The death of the pager

Back in the day anyone who was anyone had a pager, doctors, nurses, business people, firemen, coastguards, IT pros.  I even had one myself for a short time.

The pager was in essence one of the most important pieces of technology of its time.  It offered for the first time a way to relay small pieces of information to people whilst they where away from a fixed line phone and is the reason why people like Sir Christopher Gent went on to develop the Mobile Phone technology we use today.

The first pager (type) system was introduced way back in 1921 by Detroit Police Department. However, it was not until 1949 that the very first telephone pager was patented.  The first successful consumer pager was Motorola’s Pageboy I first introduced in 1974. It had no display and could not store messages, however, it was portable and notified the wearer that a message had been sent.

By 1980, there were 3.2 million pager users worldwide. At that time pagers had a limited range and were used mostly in on-site situations for example when medical workers communicate with each other within a hospital.

By 1990, wide-area paging had been invented and over 22 million pagers were in use. By 1994, there were over 61 million pagers in use and pagers.

But their domonation of communications was not to last, in the early 1990’s as the 2G 900 MHz Mobile Phone network began to roll out, people began to prefer voice to voice communication over that of the pager.  In Finland in 2003 the first person to person text message was sent and the demise of the consumer pager had begun.

In 2001, with only 30,000 users in the UK – Orange decided enough was enough and switched off their pager network, offering customers £50 of executive gifts or a free mobile phone as a replacement.

Vodafone however kept on going and today has the only Pager network in the UK.  Pagers are still today a vital method of commication to the emergency services (and any business that must communicate vital up to date information) such as on call firefighters, doctors and coastguards.  The devices have the ability to receive text as well as offering signal where mobile phone’s fail, a long battery live and great robustness.

What amazes me most, that today we have not moved on from that of the people on the go in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. 70’s and 80’s We all crave data and information knowmatter where we are or what we are doing.

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Effective marketing via twitter by Heckler Design

This afternoon I tweeted

wiseguyrussell : I still want one http://hecklerdesign.com/

minutes later I receive this …..

deanheckler@wiseguyrussell Go for it Russel! :) Request a quote at http://hecklerdesign.com/rfq/

I reply

wiseguyrussell @deanheckler expensive to ireland i would say !

Dean then follows the link to my website, runs a quote and emails it to be directly !

Now that is what I call effective marketing on twitter !


NI tech blog talk to me

Up and coming website ‘NI Tech blog‘ talk to be about business, expansion and the economy.

The article is as follows.

Russell McQuillan is the Business Development Manager for Bitbuzz, Irelands leading Wi-Fi provider, Last year they expanded into Northern Ireland and this year are looking at the UK market. We caught up with Russell recently…

What is your company “elevator pitch”?

To provide simple, fast secure Wi-Fi to guests and customers of hotels and coffee houses.

Where did it all begin for the company?

Shane Deasy MD of Bitbuzz was working as a consultant for 02 and a company that later became ‘the cloud’ He was receiving great feedback about Wi-Fi from hoteliers and people in the hospitality industry but everyone he spoke to wanted the product to be tweaked a little bit here and there to suit there own business models, which at the time was something they could not do. So he moved back to Ireland and along with Alex French our COO and one other they set up Bitbuzz.

In January 2008 they decided to expand the business into Northern Ireland, that is when I joined the team to head up operations and expansion here. Hoteliers were happy to speak to us, as we were a real alternative to BT Openzone. We are speaking hotels every week now and launching more than one hotspot per week. In fact we have around 20 new sites due to come live shortly. Our next big step to be expand further in the UK mainland market and we have recently signed 7 locations there.

How many people does the company employ (locally/internationally)?

We employ 9 people across Ireland, naturally in a small company, job titles don’t mean much as we all tend to pitch is to get whatever we are working on completed on time.

Who are the target customers?

That’s a difficult question as we target hoteliers and high-end coffee chains, but it’s the end user that makes our service successful and keeps us in business. We would not have the end user if we didn’t have our service in the location, and we would not be in the location if our service was not popular with the end user, so both sides of the business are very important to us.

What does your role within the company entail… a typical day in your life?

First and foremost my job is to look at new ways of expanding the business, be that adding more hotspot locations or thinking of a totally new way of delivering Wi-Fi the people where we need it, like our new product Bitbuzz on Board, a service that will allow people to access the net whilst on their daily commute.

I travel all over the UK and Ireland speaking to people about our business, no two days are the same which is one of the reasons I love the job so much, my background is retail and when you open a new store it does not take long to figure out trading patterns and slip into a routine, there is no chance of that here thankfully!

Once a location is signed, I see that right through to it going live which means working closely with the management team in the location and my engineers, after the site is live I will keep an eye on it and visit every three months to look at new ways of promoting the service and increasing usage.

How did you get into this line of work?

I sold my stake in a small design consultancy, and had been looking for something new to get my teeth into, I worked for some time as an Ops Manager for restaurant chain which was later sold, I was just really looking to see what there was about and really was not sure what I wanted to do next, before my own business I had worked in retail management for 7 years and I did not really fancy going back into that sector. I noticed Bitbuzz were looking someone for head up NI, I met Shane and Alex in Dublin and started the following week.

What are the most & least satisfying aspects of your current job?

I enjoy working with people, hoteliers and coffee store owners, I enjoy learning about their business and providing them with a service that actually add’s value to their consumer offering and drives customers into their outlet.

The least satisfying part of my job is when I drive 3 hours to see a potential client only to receive a phone call about 15 minutes before the meeting ‘asking to postpone’

In the current economic climate one mantra is “Innovate out of recession” – what innovations does the company offer?

We made the decision at the start of the year to expand the business into the UK mainland, one of our main selling points to hoteliers is that there is no capex, in that we invest in all the hardware needed to get up and running. This gives us a competitive edge over smaller home-brew solutions and in recent months BT who do not seem too keen on the no capex deals anymore.

How is the company weathering the economic storm – do you see any green shoots of recovery yet?

Its tough for everyone out there, the important thing is to get your head down, keep on keeping on and get through this. There are companies that won’t survive the storm but those that do will come out of this super streamlined and so driven to achieve big things. As for green shoots, A customer of ours recently received €50 million in VC funding so if the VC’s are lending again that has to be a step in the right direction.

Does the company have plans to expand locally or internationally in 09/10?

Yes as I said, we are looking at GB at present and have recently signed our first locations there, we will look at mainland Europe when the time is right but its important for us to grow slowly and not loose sight of the customers we have already.

And finally…What is the ultimate ambition of your company?

World domination, Isn’t everyone’s?

For more information on Bitbuzz check out their website: http://www.bitbuzz.com

If your company is interested in being interviewed for NITechBlog.com please email james@nitechblog.com


Top Gear Challenge : Race to Cork

After months of debating the best type of transport in Ireland and of
course chatting about the legendary show that is Top Gear, we (Lagan
Valley Explorer Scouts) decided to take the debate one step further
and run our own version of one of Top Gear’s races across a country.

The challenge was set; we would meet at McDonalds Sprucefield at 5am
on Saturday 27th June and see who would be the first team to arrive at
Cafe Hi, Merchants Quay Shopping Centre in Cork 250 miles away.

We had three teams:

Team 1, made up of Harriot, Alison and Mark went for the public
transport option, taking the bus to Dublin (no trains at 5am, shame!)
and then catching a train to Cork.

Team 2, made up of Warren, Clare and Pudz decided to fly however the
only flight they could get left from Dublin at 9 – so they to would
need to grab the bus to get that far.

Team 3, made up of myself, James, Stu and Hylands took 2 cars and
would drive the full way.

We then had three weeks of excitement, doubt, double checking routes
and talking big talk of who was going to lose.

It very quickly became 5am on 27th June and the race began, and this
is what happened.

I was in the Car Team.

Too much talking and eating of burgers meant we did not actually
realise 5am had passed and we set off, all be it 5 minutes late.
Straight away we had an advantage as we were rolling whereas the other
teams would have to wait 15 minutes on the bus, zero traffic at 5am
meant the drive was the most pleasurable I have ever taken added to
that the banter between the other car over the CB radio and the
banging tunes on the CD player I cannot think of a better way to
travel.

At 6am we had made great progress, I received a call from the two
teams on the bus who had just came past Newry but we had just zipped
through the toll road at Drogeda.

At 7am we had shot round the M50 in great time and where on the road
to cork, The other two teams had got off the bus and split up at the
airport with the Plane team checking in for their 9.00 flight and the
train team grabbing a cab across Dublin for their 8am train, this is
where (for them) the fun began !!

At around 7.10am I received a call from Warren, my brother in the
Plane team who informed me that Clare had forgot to print her boarding
card all was not lost though as the lovely girl at the check in desk
of (lets call them) Bryanair offered to reprint it for her for a mere
€40, what a lovely company to fly with!

Things were not running smoothly for the train team either, the bus
had came into Dublin 10 minutes late making it incredibly tight to get
the 8am train, the taxi agreed to zip across Dublin for them, getting
them into the station 6 minutes before the train was due to leave.
That however was not the end of their problems, their tickets had been
pre-booked and the reservation machine was not finding the tickets
against the credit card they had booked with, a long queue meant they
could miss the train.  They got sorted though with minutes to spare
and boarded the train just as it was about to leave.

With everyone now south of Dublin, adrenalin was starting to pump and
everyone was getting excited and concerned that the other teams would
arrive first.  At this time we spotted a sign by the side of the road
– CORK – 39KM, What? Really? Fantastic, we where defiantly going to
win.

The phone call’s pretty much stopped at this stage, the plane team
were through security, the train team had boarded and we where very
close to Cork – the race was on big time.

We entered Cork city at around, 8.15 and began looking for the
shopping centre.  We parked up to asked a taxi driver who informed us
it was right behind us, a quick lap of the one way system we parked
and began to laugh hysterically (knowing the plane has not taken off
yet!)  At 8.35 we arrived at the cafe and won the race.

The next hour and a bit was pretty boring, we were waiting on the
plane team landing and checking in…… not wanting to let people
know we had won – I decided to update my facebook with ‘ flat tyre,
this could cost us the race!’ straight away Harriet texted me to laugh
(the joke is on you now Harry) at around 10.15 the Plane team checked
in again to say they had landed and were on route to the meeting
point, the race (or so they thought) was on again.

Sat in the Coffee store, two of my party had gone to cash machine and
I began to panic – the rules stated that all the team had to be
present when the 2nd team arrived to count as a victory, oh noes ! I
quickly rounded them up and we sat quietly in the corner waiting, I
could hear Pudsey from the plane team coming around the corner saying
(I think we have won ……….. oh f&*^$£^%£)

That was it, the car won, the plane came second and later the train
team came running in and lunch was on them !

Times….

We all left at 5am, checking into the end-zone at

Car 8.35am

Plane 10.35am

Train 10.55am


Renault sales down but market share increase's

logoFrenchy French car maker Renault has reported a sales dip of 13.5% however have also gone on to say that they have had a better 6 months start to the year than forecast and after the successful launch of 5 new vehicles their market share (of a shrinking market) has rose to 4.3%

So why are people that are buying cars, buying Renault ?

Discounting France who pretty much only drive French I would like to take a look at how the UK and Irish figures break down.  I would imagine that they have gained market share in both the consumer sector, where you get better value for money with a Renault than a Vauxhall or ford for example; and also in the cooperate sector where companies still want their employees to have a nice respectable car, but must look seriously at running costs and fuel consumption.  This is an area where BMW and Ford will certainly loose out.

Renault is getting a 3bn euro (£2.6bn;$4.24bn) rescue loan from the French government but it is conditional on not making forced redundancies.

From Irish Times

Renault said total vehicle sales – including passenger cars and light commercial vehicles – were down 16.5 per cent worldwide, in a market that fell by the same amount, leaving its overall market share stable at 3.7 per cent.

Renault brand sales were down 21.5 per cent in the first six months, with car sales 19.1 per cent lower and light commercial vehicles (LCV) posting a 33.2 percent drop. Renault launched five new models in the first half, including versions of its best-selling Megane range and a new Clio.

Renault’s Romania-based Dacia brand – which makes the low-cost Dacia and Sandero models – saw a 22.9 percent increase in passenger car sales to 146,160 units, but LCV sales were down 13.7 per cent.

In the world passenger car market, where the Renault-Nissan alliance ranks 4th, group sales were down 13.7 per cent, at 969,361 units, in an overall market 15.6 percent lower.


Nokia report a tough Q2 2009

Nokia today has published its Quarter 2 financial results and are reportedly down a staggering 25% on last years Q2 results, they are also down a further 7% on Q1 of this year.  This equates to a staggering €9.9billion loss in sales in one single quarter.

The King of mobiles has lost 2% market share, bringing their share of the market down to a (still healthy) 38% overall.  They have been hit hard by new up and coming competitors like the apple iPhone and RIM Blackberry and all other areas of the business have also been effected.

The Mobile phone industry is has changed from that of a healthy 2005 and continues to change rapidly, Nokia once spent a fortune on R+D and were always ahead of the pack, always that was until the launch of the phone that turned the industry on its head, the Apple iPhone, others like RIM and HTC have been quick to catch up with the launch of similar products that offer fast Internet and applications on the move but Nokia have failed to capture the imagination of this new tech hip customer and have had to rely on their sturdy business phone reputation.  New handsets like the N97 and E71 which on the face of it offer the same features as the iPhone and RIM are bulky and not as easy to receive emails on the go.

I predict that Nokia will continue to loose important ground to smart-phones in the coming years until such times as they get their act together and come up with (if possible) an iPhone killer.

From Silicon Republic

The company’s largest division, Devices and Services, reported sales of €6.6bn, down 28pc year-on-year. The division nonetheless increased margins from 33.8pc in Q1 to 34pc in Q2.

The company shipped device volumes of 103.2 million units, down 15pc year-on-year and down 11pc on Q1.

The company’s share of the global mobile device market also appears to be slipping, down to 38pc from 40pc a year ago.

Software revenues from applications for devices fell from €65m in Q1 to €62m in Q2, despite the launch of its flagship Ovi store.

Its infrastructure division, Nokia Siemens Networks reported sales of €3.2bn, down 21pc year-on-year and down 7pc on Q1.


Whats the coolest brand in the UK ?

Boys (and girls) love big brands, some we can afford to have in our lives and some we dream of one day having.

Coolbrands is a global search and study of brands and they have came up with the definitive list of the worlds coolest brands.  They canvas the UKs experts and consumers every year.

Below is this years list and my thoughts on each…

01. Aston Martin. Automotive – Cars (very cool, every boys dream car – James Bond has helped these guys out, big time!)
02. iPhone. Technology – Telecommunications (The online phone to make the list, and yes very cool)
03. Apple. Technology – General (Apple appear twice, good work and a great brand)
04. Bang & Olufsen. Technology – General (Expensive Hi-Fi systems, I’d love one)
05. YouTube. Online (I don’t think they will make the grand next year if Im honest)
06. Google. Online (okay, I see where they are coming from)
07. Nintendo. Leisure & Entertainment – Games & Toys (its not for me, but the DS is a great thing for kids)
08. Agent Provocateur. Fashion – Lingerie (need I say more…. stand up boys)
09. Rolex. Fashion – Accessories, Jewellery & Watches (yes please)
10. Tate Modern. Leisure & Entertainment – UK Attractions & The Arts (okay…..)
11. Dom Perignon. Drinks – Champagne (I’ll have two)
12. Virgin Atlantic. Travel – General (well if you are going to fly, then fly well, all the virgin brands rock)
13. Ferrari. Automotive – Cars (after I get the Aston, Ill have one to run around in)
14. Ducati. Automotive – Motorbikes (I’d rather have a vespa)
15. PlayStation. Leisure & Entertainment – Games & Toys (Again not to sure it will make the longtime grade)
16. Sony. Technology – General (yea, fair enough)
17. Nike. Sportswear & Equipment (no thanks)
18. Bose. Technology – General (now the bose systems rock, probably more than Bang)
19. Facebook. Online (I live here, no twitter though ? maybe next year)
20. Lamborghini. Automotive – Cars (yea, very cool !)

So what would be your definative list ?