People, for some inexplicable reason, argue about mobile phones. Well, for those of you who do, who take stock in things like ‘most successful’ and the like, Apple have overtaken Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone maker.
They sold more mobiles over Christmas than any other brand, thanks to the Chinese going crazy for iPhones. And there’s a fantastically large amount of sales going on too, with Apple selling 74.8m phones, pipping Samsung at the post with their sales of 73m.
It is good news for Apple as their sales were up nearly 25m from the same period the previous year, which saw them making a not too shabby £11.8bn profit.
Obviously, this is going to worry some people at Samsung who have seen their sales falling. They sold 10m fewer phones than the previous year.
Might be something to do with the collective ‘meh’ at the Galaxy S5. Still, at least they’ve got a pair of phones coming out soon, one which will be curved for seemingly no reason.
Another thing chipping away at Samsung is the rise of Chinese businesses like Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo, providing phones at lower prices, which is making them very appealing to younger consumers. Of course, Samsung are teetering on the precipice and still doing well for themselves across the planet, but they’ll be all too aware of the fact that a large mobile maker can fall out of favour very, very quickly. Just look at the state BlackBerry got themselves in.
London has its own TfL to manage all things train-shaped in the capital, but a think tank has said that the Government should thrown £15bn at a similar transport body for the North of England in a bid to get everything ship-shape.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said this idea would only serve to help George Osborne’s vision of a “northern powerhouse” and they prodded the chancellor to include such a thing in his budget, which is happening on 18th March (so they’ve invariably left it a bit late, as he’s no doubt got the main meat of the budget sorted by now).
The IPPR would call this thing Transport for the North (TfN), although we’d prefer Tremendous Transport for the North so you could have TTFN as the acronym. This body would be responsible for rail, road, sea and air and determine what infrastructure investments should take priority and the like and could be made up of the existing Transport for the North alliance, which the government set up in 2014.
The IPPR plan also includes the need for a transport commissioner for the North, as well as a move toward a contactless, cross-boundary ticketing system.
Ed Cox, Director of IPPR North, said: “Northern transport infrastructure is dated, poorly integrated and lacking the large-scale investment it needs, but Transport for the North could be at the vanguard of a coherent economic plan that will fire up the northern powerhouse.”
“Devolving transport powers and budget to the North will help transform the region’s growth prospects and rebalance the economy.”
Good old Co-Operative Food. You know, the one founded on ethical principles? Well, it seems they are as ready to swindle consumers as any less ethical supermarket, by making false claims on their products, and then attempting to charge almost ten times as much for the hyped-up product.
If you have a headache, you might want to buy some painkillers. Ibuprofen is a popular choice. In Co-operative Food stores, you can find both standard ibuprofen tablets and ‘Long Lasting’ ibuprofen tablets side by side on the shelf. If you are a busy person, you might think you’d better purchase the ‘long lasting’ tablets to make sure your pain does not impinge on your day any more than absolutely necessary.
As you can see, the standard and long-lasting tablets are in very similar packaging. So similar, and so closely nestled together that it almost might be possible to mistakenly pick up the wrong packet- which would be an expensive mistake to make given than the ‘Long Lasting’ ibuprofen tablets cost £1.95 for 8 tablets (24.4p each)and the standard ibuprofen tablets cost 45p for 16 tablets (2.8p each). Now, almost ten times more expensive is a fairly hefty premium to pay for a ‘long lasting’ effect so we checked the ingredients of the tablets to see what gave the long lasting tablets their endurance. Guess what we found? That’s right. Nothing.
You see the 2.8p tablets and the 24.4p tablets are identical in terms of active ingredients. Both contain 200mg ibuprofen. So we were confused. Surely the Co-op with their “ethical values” that include “openness” and “honesty” were not merely trying to sell consumers ibuprofen with added snake oil just to make a hefty profit?
So we asked them. And they said “there is a difference,” but didn’t actually get round to explaining what the difference was, or responding to our query as to whether they thought they were deliberately misleading customers by selling products that are chemically identical under another name. Funny that. Looks like the “Co-operative value” of “self responsibility- we take responsibility for, and answer to our actions” might be something else that is actually a load of old codswallop…
Fancy a trip to Norway, where the people seem to be almost entirely lovely and the scenery is so nice that you might find yourself walking around, steadily sobbing down the front of your jumper? What do you mean you walk around crying all the time, regardless?
Anyway, we’ve spied a deal which is really great, where you can get return flights to Norway for as little as £13.98. That’s less than a new album release. That’s the price of a ironic burger from a posh bar! Have a look at the deal here.
WHAT? MORE DEALS?!
Toaster that does 2 slices of toast and your egg and beans at the same time, for £29.99
Wolfestein: Old Blood on PS4/PC for £13.85
Huge Steam sale for you gamers!
Gillette Fusion Proglide razor-blades, pack of 8 for £10.97
Duracell portable USB charger – only 99p
Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds for £19
Samsung 40″ smart LED 3D TV for £349.99
5TB hard drive for £119.99
FOR MORE AMAZING DEALS, VISIT HUKD!
We reported a while ago, that the EU was all set to abolish roaming charges. However, that may not be the case now, as they’re going to be here for another 3 years.
The pointless and outdated charges were to come into play this summer, but now, roaming charges are going to stay until the end of 2018. And only then, the situation will be reviewed. With the average Brit spending £120 on these charges, this is a bit of a kick in the pants.
The telecoms industry aren’t happy about this either, as they say that this will affect their revenues, presumably because holidaymakers will prefer to switch their phones off while abroad, rather than use them. That said, they’ll happily take the money of those who do use their phones, so they won’t be too annoyed at all this.
A number of consumer groups across Europe, who have joined forces at the BEUC, have called this u-turn ‘outrageous’ and that ‘roaming is not justifiable in a single market.’
Only last year, the UK was planning on getting together with other European countries to sort out a fairer system which would abolish roaming charges, whereas now, everyone’s going to have to work out a common position with the European Parliament and Commission before any changes come to the fore.
“EU member states should hang their heads in shame,” said Belgian MEP and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group leader Guy Verhofstadt.
The state pension is something that most people in the UK take for granted. Everyone gets it, so if you’ve not been saving up, then at least you’ll be able to fall back on that, and maybe sell a few of your organs if you’re stuck… right?
Well, around 6.1 million people aged 40-65 could actually miss out of getting a full state pension because they haven’t made enough contributions, says a new study.
Thanks to needing to be in full-time work for 30 years, that means that 39% of women and 14% of men in this age group will fall short, and, seeing as the minimum number of years rising from 30 to 35 years next year, that could mean even more people missing out.
Provided you’ve made enough National Insurance contributions, there’ll be a new flat rate pension. This is bad news for certain regions, as the table shows below.
The study suggests that those who took time out from work to raise children are likely to be hit hardest, as well as people who have had long term illnesses. According to figures, 10% of people stopped working to look after a family member, while 11% took time out to retrain or study. It seems unfair that they should be penalised for those things.
Andrew Megson of Partnership, who conducted the study, said: “When people plan their retirement finances, many assume that they will be eligible for the full state pension. However, almost a third have not worked for the 30 years required and if they have not taken any action to ensure they either make voluntary contributions or receive the relevant credits they may well face a nasty shock in retirement.”
“Others who opted out of the state second pension may also find that the support that they receive from the Government is less than they hoped. Therefore, it is vital when planning your retirement finances to ensure that you not only understand how much you will receive as part of the state pension but consider making up the shortfall if at all possible.”
What Can You Do?
If you’re concerned about this, then you can make voluntarily payments to the National Insurance. You can find out more about this, here. There’s also a state pension calculator which will help. You can also get National Insurance credits if you’re unemployed or receiving benefits.
Or, if you prefer, you can get yourself a state pension forecast by calling 0345 3000168, go to gov.uk/state-pension-statement, or writing to The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU,
HTC and Valve have teamed-up for their thing, but the one making us really giddy is Sony’s Morpheus VR set. Coupled with the PS4, this could make for some mindblowingly great and daft games.
And, the good news is that it will be launched properly in early 2016, according to Sony bigwig Shuhei Yoshida.
The improved Morpheus has an OLED display with 1080p resolution, which can notch up 120 frames per second, which is twice as good as the one shown off last year. There’s less than 18 millisecond latency too, which is thought to be indistinguishable from the way you move and react in the real world.
With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, the race for VR is well and truly on.
Yoshida said: “Over the last year we have all seen the virtual reality world explode. Whether it’s Morpheus, Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR, an increasing number of people are looking at moving virtual reality from the realm of science fiction into our living rooms.”
Sony have shown off a number of game demos, with The London Heist showing off some gangster shoot-’em-up action, as well as a ‘street luge’ game. There’s also Keep Talking And Nobody Explode, a bomb-disposal affair too.
Yoshida continued: “VR is a new medium: the demos that we have been creating are just the beginning. We will deliver a VR experience that pushes boundaries of play, and ignites a passion in players. Creativity is thriving in this industry.”
Here’s some gameplay involving a shark. We can’t wait!
Scottish Power have been slapped with a sales ban after they failed to meet Ofgem’s customer service targets. The energy provider was told to clear all their outstanding Energy Ombudsman decisions regarding customer complaints, but they didn’t.
They were asked to answer customers’ calls more quickly, reduce a backlog of bills and sort out outstanding ombudsman rulings. As such, the 12-day sales ban means the company can’t engage in “proactive sales” from today.
The energy company said that they are “committed to delivering the best service possible and treating our customers fairly”.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner in charge of enforcement, said: “A sales ban illustrates the difficulties Scottish Power is having in delivering the levels of service customers deserve. While Ofgem’s targets have driven significant improvements in Scottish Power’s performance, we remain very concerned about how customers are being treated.”
Scottish Power say: ”We have successfully delivered two of the targets. In relation to the target of having zero ombudsman remedies over 28 days, we cleared 2,575 cases during November and, at 1 December, the Ombudsman confirmed that we have achieved the zero target.”
“However, subsequently it was identified that 30 cases had been closed incorrectly. We sincerely apologise to these customers for these errors. The cases were immediately fixed on discovery. In line with our original voluntary commitment and with the agreement of Ofgem, we will now stop outbound selling from 4 March until 15 March.”
Have you been looking to get yourself a next-gen console? Are they even ‘next-gen’ now they’ve been out a while? Either way, you don’t have to pay full whack if you’re smart about it – by which we mean; if you use our DOTD round-up!
If you’ve been after a new Xbox One, then you can get one for £232.76, which is the cheapest price we’ve seen so far! This particular offer doesn’t include Kinect, but you can pick that up separately if you’re in need. Have a look at the deal here.
EVEN MORE DEALS!
Buy two, get two free: medium Easter eggs £1.50 each
Destiny: limited edition Xbox One/PS4 for £27.99
Samsung M3 1TB USB 3.0 slimline portable hard-drive for £39.99
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare PS4/Xbox One for £20 with code
Lenovo Yoga 8 16gb tablet with 12-months warranty for £95
Tenn Active waterproof-set, now £5
Assassin’s Creed: Unity Xbox One for £9.49 with code
Spectrum red digital microwave 700-watt for £24.99
FOR MORE BRILLIANT DEALS, VISIT HUKD EVERY DAY!
There was a fair bit of hubbub surrounding Amazon’s Prime and how it changed from a free trial to a paid-for service.
The Advertising Standards Authority have banned one of Amazon’s adverts, which was a direct mailing advert, which offered a “free trial” of the Prime delivery service, saying that it misled consumers on the now infamous subscription fees.
So what’s the beef?
Well, the ASA’s ruling came about after their were complaints about a card that crowed about a “30-day free trial”, which wasn’t prominent or clear enough when pointing out that a paid subscription would kick-in automatically if the service wasn’t cancelled during the trial period.
In addition to that, the regulator noted that the ad for the instant video element of Prime also didn’t point out the cost of a subscription.
The letter itself said: “Dear [name], I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime … Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want … That’s all there is to it …”
It did say; “Paid subscription starts automatically after free trial unless cancelled,” in the small print, and Amazon pointed out that the advert repeatedly said the “free” element was time-limited. The company also pointed out that in all occasions bar one, the word “free” was preceded by “30-day”.
The ASA weren’t having it and said: ”We did not consider that it was sufficient to include the information about the automatic paid subscription in the small print of the ad only and therefore did not consider that that information was sufficiently prominent to make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of the offer.”
“We concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that this particular advert for Amazon Prime was misleading and it mustn’t appear again in its current form.
Of course, eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that there’s been an increase in cheaper Xbox consoles in our Deals of the Day for a while now, but it looks like these prices drops are going to be more widespread.
One thing that looks like it is going to be consistently cheaper is the handsome Xbox One that comes in white (a bundle that comes with Sunset Overdrive Bundle) and the Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed Bundle.
So, instead of being around £350, the average price looks like it’ll now be around the £280 mark. Not bad eh?
These deals won’t last forever, sadly, so get on it asap if you’re after a new console. Through the Microsoft Store, you’ll be able to buy the console and get a £20 voucher with it too. Like most things, this is a case of ‘while stocks last’, so don’t dilly dally.
If you miss out, we’ll have more deals from elsewhere, so don’t fret.
Another day, another attack on people using gadgets to get on the internet. This time, something called Freak Attack (which sounds like an ace ’80s horror b-movie) is causing a headache for users of Android and Apple devices.
The good news is that there are no reports of this weakness being exploited (yet) and that the relevant companies are working quickly to shore up the flaw… but where has all this come from? Well, researchers reckon that the problem comes from code that came about from old government policies which required software developers to use weaker security in encryption programmes, thanks to that old chestnut of ‘international security concerns’.
The flaw is to do with web encryption technology, which could potentially enable bad people to spy on what you’re doing if you use Safari or Google’s Android browser.
Around a third of all encrypted sites were vulnerable as of yesterday, as sites continued to accept this weaker software, which affects Apple’s browsers, the Android browser, but not Google Chrome browser or the latest versions from Firefox or Microsoft.
Apple and Google have both said that they’ve fixed the Freak Attack flaw, with Apple rolling theirs out next week and Google saying that they’ve sent out the goods to device makers and wireless carriers.
Obviously, this highlights the problems with governments interfering with encryption codes, even when dealing with national security. This old policy has come back to bite it on the arse, as it could well do the opposite of what it was intended to do, and actually give a helping hand to criminals.
Until a rollout occurs, you’d be wise to use Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft’s browser or, indeed, ride your luck until the new security measures are in place, if you’re feeling saucy.
For those of you counting the days, don’t worry, the next bank holiday isn’t that far away- Good Friday lands in exactly a month’s time. But is this the ideal time to book your next holiday abroad or not? The helpful chaps at Kayak have crunched the numbers and can tell you the ideal time to book, and which days to fly to get the cheapest deals. But it all depends on where you’re going…
On average, Kayak recommend that British travellers book around three months ahead of their departure date, but some destinations require looking even further ahead, with travellers needing five months waiting time for South America, four months in advance for the Caribbean, and a whopping seven months for trips to Asia. European jaunts can be timed to perfection as the best prices are available one month ahead of time, but those looking for a trip Stateside need to book only two weeks before leaving.
Kayak also looked at the best day to fly, and based on their data from between November 2014 and February 2015, flying in the middle of the week is the cheapest option for all long-distance routes. On average, the cheapest flights depart on a Thursday and return between Tuesday and Thursday.
Note that while weekend flying is normally most expensive, a simple change to a European long weekend could save you a packet. A four-day Friday to Monday weekend break would be weighted with premium prices, but a break of identical length from Thursday to Sunday actually comes in as the cheapest option. So what are you waiting for?