9 out of 10 cats …

Kable laud the introduction of a DTV version of direct.gov – an awesome job, all built in-house by the KN team at the OeE – and note that 9 out of 10 people say they were likely to use it in the future. Sounds like a vote of confidence all round, with the exception of the poor folks who will have to use their 28.8kps modems in their set top boxes. I hope that broadband will come soon for Sky viewers (I don’t have a TV but am assuming that Telewest and NTL folks get their “dtv” internet at normal speeds).

Depths of despair for Nokia

Much news in the last few days about Nokia getting its estimates wrong, not seeing the clamshell market as important and generally not selling enough phones. Their stock is down from getting on to $25 to as low as $14 (with a bounce to $15 and change today, in a generally up market).

Back in February 2003 I wrote that Nokia had lost my custom for several reasons. My main problem was that it’s too hard to move phones:

Given that the UK market looks pretty saturated, the odds are that most people are either going through or are about to go through their first upgrade – colour screens, polyphonics, cameras etc are all beckoning. I imagine that few of them will have stored all of their contacts on the SIM (which is no use if you store more than one phone number per person), many will have figured out predictive text and so filled up their T9 dictionaries and they’ll want to move phones easily and quickly. Good luck to all those who try

Looking at the mis-steps Nokia has made, it seems clear that this is still part of the problem. Nokia used to keep people attached to their brand because they had the best interface – quite simply, it was just so good (especially compared to Motorola and Ericsson who I found unusable at the time). With new features on phones, people found that the interface was changing anyway, so there was nothing to hold them to Nokia – so they moved. Nokia failed, I believe, to give people a reason to stay. If you’d bought a new phone and when you first powered it on there was a green button that said “press this to take what was on your old phone and move it to this one”, then you can believe me that I’d be interested.

I think the clamshell argument is secondary – Nokia haven’t introduced cool designs (I’ve seen people laughing out loud when they play with the new one in the store); they haven’t kept up to date with proper smartphones (the Treo and the P900 are streaks ahead of the 6600); they’ve been slow with the sleek, silver (i.e. not plastic) lookin phones that companies like Samsung have filled the shelves with. In short, Nokia may well be the new Motorola – missing a key trend and failing to recover.

I’m no fan of 3G but Nokia’s entry there looks unworkable. If Sony Ericsson ship a P900 that works on 3G I may well make the move, but right now I love having one device that has my calendar, task list and all my contacts in it as well as being a workable MP3 player and not too bad at games – there’s no need for me to move to two devices again.

And Nokia don’t seem to have anything in the pipeline that would tempt me to their way of thinking either.

England 2 – Denmark 1

I had to get this in before John Gotze. In a new survey, sponsored by IBM, and commented on today in the FT (page 4 – doubtless you still have to subscribe to get a proper link to the text, but included here just in case) …

The government’s flagging campaign to drive Britain to the top of the internet-adoption league has received a boost from a survey that places the UK second in the world.

I’d argue with the FT’s use of the word “flagging”. I don’t see anything we’ve done so far as indicating that there’s been any flagging at all; if anything there is ever more focus and effort being put in to it all. Their justification comes from the following statements:

In 1998, it said it wanted the UK to be the best environment in the world to trade electronically by 2002.

In 1999, it said all government services should be online by 2008, a year later bringing the target forward to 2005.

It has also said it wants the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005.

However, a Cap Gemini Ernst & Young study in January suggested only half of the government’s services were online and placed the UK sixth out of 18 countries. At the same time, the Broadband Stakeholder Group said it was sixth out of seven in terms of broadband penetration in the G7.

I guess that’s the “survey says” view – how you count, who you count, what you count all shif the measures. Some people are ahead on vision, some ahead on execution. Some have coralled everyone down one route and some have let 1000 flowers bloom.

Anyway, in this survey … The UK comes second only to Denmark – so I guess my post title should say “British Lions” or UK United or something, but never mind. Funnily enough, the top 5 contains four Scandi countries and the UK.

Remember, this is about e-readiness, not e-government – our placing in e-government isolated is around 11th or so (which is worse than usual I think, but I’m not sure of the methodology). What this is assessing is broadband take-up and availability, business capability, legislation, consumer usage etc. All necessary things.

But, in the past I’ve commented on surveys that have pushed us down the table and questioned their methodology and, apparently, the way things are counted in this one has changed pushing us up a bit. Just shows that we need a survey of surveys or a poll of polls perhaps.

The full report can be found at the EB EIU site – as far as I can tell it’s available to download for free (who says content is worth only what you pay for it?).

What a day today

My day today starts with trying to take some money out of an ATM and finding I was £10,000 overdrawn (yes, 10 thousand) – surely that couldn’t be me (I have no o/d limit). Someone’s taken thousands of pounds out of my bank account and the bank has just let them. Irate call to bank, followed by another irate call. It will all be sorted tomorrow they say.

Then a visit to the cinema to see Dawn of the Dead (don’t ask). One hour into the film, the screen goes blank. A fire alarm can be heard in the distance but it’s not clear if it’s somewhere else. The film restarts a few minutes later and continues for 20 mins. The screen goes blank again, the curtains are drawn. Checking outside I see that the entire cinema has been evacuated – except the screen I am in. How can that be? The manager arrives 10 (count them – 10 – I stayed in a potentially burning cinema for 10 mins! How dumb is that?) and promises a voucher for a free movie. The voucher says can be used in any Warner cinema except the one that I’m in! Is that any use? Of course not, so a refund follows.

If those were government IT projects, they’d be front page news. For days on end.

Checking the ATM later having sorted it with my bank (don’t ask) the ATM says it will be down for maintenance over the weekend for a day and a half.

If those were government IT projects, they’d be front page news. For yet more days on end.

Incompetence is rife – but don’t for a second think that the public sector is an easy target and that everything else is fine. Your standards are different. The standards of the press are different. There is spin everywhere you look. What is in the paper is not true. Ask David Beckham (maybe) 😉

More on accessibility

Following my post yesterday, Ian Dunmore at Public Sector Forums passed on a link to some documentation that the folks in Medway put together with guidelines for how to build accessible sites.

Whilst I was looking at their site, I found that they have over 100 online forms available – that’s some total – and they’re not online PDFs but interactive forms (they look like they’re built using a common tool, perhaps x-forms based or similar). You know that the problem is cracked when you see that you can report, online, incidences of “dog fouling”. Once you’re at that level, you must have done all of the hard stuff.

The Office of the e-Envoy also has guidelines for building sites, including taking care of accessibility.