X-Series is now reality

A few days have gone since X-Series was launched in the UK by 3.

A few reviews and news items were published, but I still could not find any real review. There was one on Mobile Gazette, for example, but I would not really call it a review.

Since I’m not in the UK I can’t really say much about it except what I read on the online site.
I am personally not very interested in Sling and think that Orb *might* sometime turn out to be useful, but that is actually not the main reason why I buy the X-Series package.
What are the other features included? Yahoo! search and eBay. I see it as a good branding opportunity for these two companies, but I don’t think it’s very compelling… While I see the value of getting their name next to a flat-fee data plan, I would not buy the plan just because I can search with Yahoo!. I can search using it anyway! 😀
To me, the most interesting features are messaging and unlimited internet. This means e-mail, browsing, but maybe also using other applications such as bluepulse (I also just wrote a review on bluepulse) or more that might come in a few months specifically for this kind of data plans.

Another big thing is Skype on 3 as they call it on the Skype site. The devices will have Skype pre-installed. The client is compatible with the standard service so you will be able to login with your existing account (or create a new one, of course). Users can call each other for free and this is great. SkypeOut is still not supported, but should be enabled in the next months. This will certainly take some revenues away from 3, but I’m sure it will make a lot of customers happy!

Reading the fine print you discover that data usage is unlimited, but actually 3 has defined some soft-limits that they have identified as “fair use limits”. On the website it is not written clearl, but my understanding is that surpassing these limits every months might result in an early interruption of the service from 3. The limits are high and I surprisingly agree on the limits they have identified. This is a good sign from 3. Example of Fair Use Limit for data: 1 GB each month (taken from the X-Series site).
One thing that I did not like is that the data usage is limited to the phone. In theory, if you want to connect with a PC you will have to get an extra data-plan or pay-per-use as you would normally do. Customers of this plan will initially be geeks and business people. All customers that will ALSO need internet access with their PC. The two devices provided are Symbian, but are not a BlackBerry or a P990i or an E61. They are both media-rich devices rather than business phones. I think this is not a pro.

The price is VERY interesting and while it’s a promotional price (starts from 20£ per month, which is about 30 Euro), the final price (starts from 35£, about 50 Euro) is still a very good price considering that it includes a BIG LOAD of messages and a lot of calling minutes. I would like to hear how much you pay per month, because if we consider the taxes (at least in Italy), data and calls… I’m already above that and I don’t use as much data as I would with the X-Series.

I was a bit worried of the price when they announced it, but I think it’s very compelling.
When are the other operators following? How long will it take? 6 months? Less? Never?

Also check out the X-Series blog.

3 music store

While browsing on 3’s site in UK I noticed a nice banner that invites the visitors to enter a new online shop.

3MusicStore is now open and already has 500,000 titles. What is so interesting? Is that the site sells everything for 99p, about 1.4 Euro. It’s a little bit higher than services such as iTunes, that sells songs for 99 eurocent (and 79p in UK), but 3MusicStore adds something. Something that seems very interesting to me. All songs purchased on the site can be downloaded both on the mobile phone AND on the PC. This service clearly opens the gates to MP3 phones such as the latest Sony Ericsson devices (W810i, W850i, W950i, etc).

So how is this different from iTunes? Well, I have it on my phone, I can be on the move, hear a song I like on the radio, open the site on my phone and buy it.
Later I will go home and also download it on my PC.

This is certainly a big hit in the iTunes+iPod concept that Apple has. Sony Ericsson is certainly scoring a point here.
I wonder if the iPhone will turn into reality and if Apple will sign a deal with 3. Wouldn’t it be a perfect couple?

On the other side, Italy shows that while we are ahead on the TV matters, we’re behind about music. 3 in Italy offers a service that only shares the name, 3MusicStore, unfortunately songs cost 2.5 Euro each and videoclips cost 3 Euro each. Dual-download (phone and PC) is not available. There are selected songs that cost only 1 Euro, but it’s a limited offer for a limited time (this week there are 8 songs from Jamiroquai). Hopefully the Italian site will soon follow the UK path!