back to article Vodafone Live 'improvements' kill mCommerce

Vodafone UK has launched a mobile optimising technology which reformats web pages to fit onto a mobile phone screen. Unfortunately, it also prevents anyone else doing the same thing, and breaks several mCommerce technologies. Dubbed Mobile Internet, the service includes a shiny new portal, which users can personalise with …


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  1. Rich Silver badge


    Hang on a minute....

    Vodafone are downloading web pages to their servers, messing them about and then (maybe) adding advertising to them...

    ...and then REPUBLISHING them to the handset user.

    Errr.... isn't their a copyright issue here? Most web sites (pretty much all the commercial ones, and a lot of non-commercial ones) specifically disallow republishing of their material unless you have their express permission.

  2. Name

    Just leave it

    They just can't resist mucking about with things can they? All we want is decent, straightforward pricing. Their online billing is still not showing anything after May 31st so we still can't check how they're charging us for internet access.

  3. caffeine addict

    What about dotmobi?

    This makes some sense for the large number of websites that don't bother managing mobile devices but it kills all of us who make a business out of it. We know more about our content than Vodafone does, and we know how we want it displayed.

    It also completely destroys the whole purpose of the mobi TLD - why bother with it at all if you're just going to rerender it?

    Still, it stops myspace having to develop a system that works on mobiles...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    content based charging?

    This allows them to placate users moaning about data rate charges by offering low or zero data rate charges, or seemingly high capacities, but instead charge additional fees by content, or block content they see as competitive. Yeah, 120mb *but* what can you actually do with it? Anything likely to actually use a fair proportion of it may be blocked or face additional charges. Perhaps not now, but maybe in the future.

    i.e. Perhaps they may inject adverts, but also could potentially charge variable rates depending on what you visit and download, especially if it's a competitor site or anything that detracts from their lucrative SMS income (e.g. by using Hotmail, Yahoo! email, or a free/cheap SMS site).

    The way things are going with operators it's better to look out for WiFi phones and bypass the operator altogether for Internet use. Just make sure it's not a branded phone though as they'll have disabled half the functionality that's a threat to their income anyway ;-)

  5. Adam Peters

    Not impressed

    After reading this I fired up my book marks on my phone to see what a shables this service is.

    Now all the websites that detected I was using my mobile don't revert to WAP mode, and try to stuff the entire site down my phones throat, using more bandwidth to boot!

    Secondly, the 'banner' at the top with its great new features takes up half the bloody screen!

    I rang customer service who politely informed me they can't turn it off, despite me telling them the service was 'complete arse, unwanted, and why I wasn't warned about it'

    My Voda business contract has just expired, and we spend a sizable sum on it. They better get their arses into gear and deliver what the customer wants, or I will be looking elsewhere.

    (Oh, and thanks for introducing the unconvincing robot woman voiced menu. I used to get straight through to a human last week)

  6. Chris Matchett


    The first time I visited a site I was asked if I wanted to use their mobile internet engine. I said no and Live Mail opened up fine without banner. If I want optimised I've got Opera Mini. Otherwise Pocket IE plus copes just fine with most things. I can also use that to set the User Agent.

    This including reading and sending an email plus reading the 3 help pages on the new portal took about 200+Kb.

    STILL waiting for VF to update billing.

    Also they can no longer compare past usage with new because they have so significantly changed the VF Live portal page. So how can they tell that the new setup doesn't cost 10% more each month?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure its more a glitch than conspiracy

    As I hear it, Vodafone was intending not to transcode / mask mobile sites, only HTML sites. Unfortunately their default was wrong, because it means that all sites that are mobile (to deal with 95% no-voda users) would have to be registered with Voda. Given there are 1 million WAP sites out there that would be really hard .....

    Anyway, I'm sure they are working on a fix and have heard the feedback loud and clear.

  8. Chris Matchett


    I tried to visit BBC News later on and got the banner twice - it also stopped me from getting the BBC site properly. I tried twice more and eventually got the proper site. I'll try removing from my homepage in case that works. Bye bye Vodafone Live.

  9. tim chubb

    serves you right for using net on phone

    bout as useful as a chocolate frying pan.

    as the only places you tend to get decent 3g reception i find is in towns, the likelyhood of not having a net cafe within 5 mins walk is 0

    where u can view the site on a proper monitor, hell a 12" ega crt is a 72" plasma screen in comparision to the crap that is mobile lcd's. access the site infinitely faster, input data easier and not have half your battery dissapear

    bah all rubbish, resent the fact phones can do more than store numbers and ring, gladly go back to my old 3210 any day, week or 2 without charge, never crashed just worked, and was actually silent when "silent" without sounding like a dildo/swarm of wasps trying to traverse your desk in a convulsive fit

  10. Chris Matchett

    Maybe Chubb should go to Yale

    1) mobile email

    2) windows mobile smartphone edition

    3) welcome to the big city! 3G coverage is pretty good actually

    4) good data plan cheaper than some dodgy internet café

    5) HDSPA

    6) AgendaOne/Pocket Informant

    7) Turn vibration off when silent

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two ways?

    Over here in Malaysia, all the cellcos I know off offer two ways to access the net: One through a WAP proxy that almosts certainly will "optimize" a non-WAP page, and one through a direct connection via TCP/IP. Anyone with a smart enough smartphone or who has his phone and PDA/laptop paired via bluetooth can switch to the latter to access the net and see it the way it's meant to be seen. Sure, lots of page needs lots of scrolling if you're on a small screen, but better than nothing.

    @tim chubb, if you've bought on eBay and half of the stuff you're bidding on ends when you're at work, and you're exceptionally paranoid, then mobile web is a total savior (i.e. the bidding may end and I may lose the item because it's heavily coveted, but I don't trust my office PC - the janitor could've secretly loaded a keylogger into it for his nefarious deeds for all I know).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all about the Google Deal

    I reckon it has a lot to do with the deal they did with Google a year or so ago. If you notice, now on Vodafone Live the 'enhance by Google' search is right at the top of the page. If you the search you will see 3 sponsored links at the top of your results (depending on keyword).

    Funny thing is that the advertisers on Google are all 3rd party sites, and are of course the ones being hit by this transcoder nonesense.

    Even when a site has been white-listed and is therefore not transcoded, it still tries to transcode multimedia files e.g. video MIME types of all things! Returning an error of 'page too large'. What monkey wrote this kak!

    So the current situation is, for a white-listed site, you can browse and pay for a video, but when it comes to download it Vodafone will not let you. The barrage of support calls must be taking it's toll.

    The transcoder appears to be the Google transcoder re-branded - when it was originally launched on Google that also killed mCommerce at the time. It seems they don't want people to actually use mobile internet sites and would prefer them to see transcoded regular web sites!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Two ways?

    The two ways of access is how Orange do it. They have an access point for WAP and another for full Internet.

    Those with rubbish phones that can only cope with WAP sites can stick to the WAP access point. Those with decent phones that render HTML pages properly use the full Internet access point.

    The thing with what Vodafone are doing is I suspect they ignoring the fact many of the smartphones can now render full Internet sites just fine and have resolution enough to not require this dumbing down of the net with banners galore. Scrolling is not a problem thanks to new innovations in thumbnail scrolling based browsers.

    Though some of these phones are being kitted with WiFi anyway, so you can bypass the whole problem of operators if you're near an access point, and pay a tiny fraction compared to the rip off price operators charge for data (well okay it's a subsidy to pay for the OTT prices they foolishly paid for 3G that nobody wants or needs anyway).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to disable this feature...

    I think this is a great idea to let mobile users with poor browsers like in most Nokia Series 40 phones access web pages when on the move.

    It is possible to disable the "optimising" feature. When you access an external website, just select "Tools" in the menu that appears at the bottom of the page and select "PC standard". You will still get the banner at the top and at the bottom of each page but the page should be displayed untouched.

    If you change to use the "internet" APN in your web browser it seems to work as it did last week for external websites. No idea of whether the data through this APN would be part of the data bundle though and you will not be able to purchase any content on live! when using this APN.

  15. Adam Peters

    Quite Correct

    Remove the Proxy IP,

    Port at 8080

    username : web

    password : webs

    No more banners!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Help getting out of a vodaphone contract

    Funnily enough I don't like:

    a) not knowing what I will be charged for a service at all

    b) having my mobile net access changed without warning

    Is this legal? I know theres a clause that allows them to alter T&Cs but this strikes me as totally unreasonable.

    My personal vodaphone contract expires in Feb 2008 as I took an 18 month deal last time (and now bitterly regret that)

    Any suggestions about how to get out of it?

  17. Chris Matchett

    how to get out of the contract

    Ask Vodafone to prove that the new arrangement will not increase costs by more than 10%. If they cannot do so then you can break the contract.

  18. SimonThomas

    Simple Solution

    Firstly Vodafone need to keep the devices requesting HTTP Headers intact as these are required by most to determine what to serve to that device, in terms of image sizes, page markup, media formats, DRM capabilities, Java capabilities, Language and Encoding support, security support etc etc...

    I also suggest they don't mess with anything carrying wap specific Doctypes as these pages have been designed specifically for mobile devices in mind.

    They should implement and respect the HTTP Header 'Content-Type: no-tansform' thus if a server sends out this header they should honour it and not transcode anything during that request.

    Also some of our clients have clearly stated they are not impressed to see their Brands Logos messed up by Vodafones image transcoding.

  19. SimonThomas


    I meant 'Cache-Control: no-transform' in previous post not 'Content-Type: no-transform'

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