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15 questions to James Whatley of Refresh Mobile

If you thought SMS Text News readers were amongst the best, brightest, sexiest and most notable of the world’s mobile community, then you’d be dead rght. Well done.

Nice to see you here, by the way.

Pull up a chair.

I’m always surprised to meet, talk and interact with SMS Text News readers. It’s phenomenally exciting. Do you remember Whatleydude? You will. If you’ve been reading around the blog comments now and again you’ll have seen his comments. A lot of the time I talk with people and I don’t really know who they are or what they do as a day job or occupation. So I hadn’t actually engaged with Whatleydude (James) as to his background or profession, we’d just been knocking about some mails. I thought it would be good to get him to answer the standard SMS Text News interview questions and see where it went.

Well. Oooh it’s an interesting one. Have a read.

Without further ado, James….

Picture 11

1. What was your first mobile handset?
I honestly don’t know.
It was a horrific piece of machinery that I got given for Christmas in 1997!
All I remember about is that it had an extendable aerial (which I broke off pretty sharpish – whoops), no caller ID and a ‘design your own ringtone function!’

It was on Vodafone and it was PAYG. Shocking…

The same applies to the phone after that one – no idea what make –

But I can however tell you that my first memorable handset was the Nokia 3210 – ahh… the wonders of Snake!
And T9!

w00t!

But yeah – started off on Vodafone – dilly dallied with Orange and Three – but always came back to VF. Also – I’ve pretty much the same mobile number now for 12 years! That’s gotta be a record surely?!

2. What is your current mobile strategy? (i.e. Handsets, devices, networks)
My current mobile strategy?
Eh?
You what?

*emails Ewan*

Ah… I see!

I’ve got an N73 currently – I play around with a lot of handsets – on my desk right now for instance I have an N95, a Nokia 6680, N80 and another N73.
I really need a Java handset though – maybe if I steal someone’s K800i… Hmm.
Sorry!

Getting distracted!

Why do I have all these phones on my desk?

Well – I guess I’ll come to that later on in this Questionnaire!

My next handset will probably be the N95.. and I’m giving serious thought to moving Operator too.
Although VF have got ’til March (apparently – ahem) to sort out their data etc…

(I’m a Nokia fiend – always have been – although I once tried those NEC phones that launched with H3G – lets not talk about that though eh?)

3. What price plan are you using right now?
I’m on something stupid like 3000 mins pcm + STC
(I discovered yesterday that I’m on an 18mth contract – I am not amused)

*runs off to check*

Anytime 3000 3G STC 50 VC + 40Pds 3G Extras Pack for 34Pds – whatever that means… I know I know – I should pay attention – but I really don’t.

4. What’s your background?
I’m a fellow Essex boy like yourself chap – Canvey Island born and (in)bred.
What? Webbed feet are handy?!
Hahah – moved to London in my 20s to have a crack at working in the city.
I worked for LWT, GMTV, The Storm Trooper’s Gazette (sorry – The Daily Mail)

And then an amazing thing happened…

Bear with me – life story time!

I was tinkering along at The Mail enjoying life etc and – via a mobile forum http://www.talk3g.com – I discovered the BBC had a mobile service which was supposed to be better than WAP. So I thought I’d give it a go on my (then) N70.

I couldn’t get it to work.

So I emailed the BBC and told them it was rubbish and they were too (in as many words).

I got an email back from a guy called Kevin Cunnington at Refresh Mobile telling me that he could fix it and that the N70 was capable of the BBC (Mobizines!) Service and that I should try this.. and try that and and… etc etc.. but no matter what – I couldnt get the bloody thing to work!

Anywhoo – the long and short of it is – I ended up getting it working one weekend after lots of fiddling and playing with various settings – so I Kevin emailed back to let him know that a) I had got it working and b) How much I enjoyed the service.

So yeah – he emails me back and offers me a ‘mystery prize’ from their website (I’d give you the link but they’ve since taken it down), this website had all sorts of things on it – generally boys toys and various other firebox kinda stuff y’know?

At the very bottom of this website it said something along the lines of:

“Or – spend a day in the office and meet the team! If we like you – we may even give you a job – Refresh Mobile is always looking for fresh ideas from innovative people…”

So. You can see where this is going can’t you?

I went along – met the CEO, Scott Beaumont – had a really long (and kinda geeky) conversation about the mobile industry and the Mobizines product and where it was and where it was going and yeah – all was well.
Unfortunately I was doing accounts at the time (YES – ACCOUNTS – AARGH) and Refresh Mobile wasn’t looking for any accountants…
Hmph.

Three months later I decide to start looking for a new job – figured I’d drop Refresh a bell, see how they were getting on – Scott & Kevin were both pleased to hear from me and invited me in for another chat.

That was the evening of Wednesday 8th June 2006.

By Friday lunchtime I’d quit my job at the Mail and signed the contract with Refresh.

I am now currently ‘Mobizines Manager’ at Refresh Mobile – working on various projects such as WAP, CRM, Quality Testing, Product Marketing and general Product Management…

However – now here’s the big ‘revelation’ – my name is James Whatley – I have an online tag – it’s Whatleydude.

Go on – Google ‘Mobizines’ & ‘Whatleydude’ – have a look what you get…

Yup – that’ll be me – ‘posing’ as a user evangelising the service!

So yeah – time to come clean – I work for Refresh Mobile and I work on the Mobizines Service.

Thing is – I REALLY believe in this service and I think everyone should have it – so in my defence – I was bigging up the service before they hired me! So the use of the word ‘posing’ is kinda wrong really. I AM a user of the service – I’ve just been kinda neglecting to mention that I work for Mobizines..

*whistles innocently*

So yeah – I guess they hired one of their biggest fans – I’m a paid user!

…I hope no one hates me! I know I’ve been a surreptitious about my evangelising – but now it’s all out in the open I can be honest about who I am, what I do and who I work for.

Sorry – didn’t mean to go off on one – but I’ve been needing to get that off my chest for a while.

I spoke with my CEO about it this morning and he gave me the ok – I mean Whatleydude is my tag – so I need to reclaim it as it were y’know?
I’ve been blogging since March (www.myspace.com/whatleydude is my main one – but I have others) last year (when I buggered off to Thailand for two weeks and checked myself into a detox spa – http://www.spasamui.com – everyone should go!) …and I’ve had an online presence for around 10yrs now (as that tag).

I also run a gaming forum http://s8.invisionfree.com/ThePGF – gaming being my initial interest that brought me online in the first place… that has now developed to Mobile!

I think I now look at more mobile sites than I do gaming…!

*spots next question*

Ah ha!

5. What sites do you regularly read to keep up to date with mobile?
OBVIOUSLY smstextnews – but also

http://biskero.org
http://talk3g.co.uk
http://ringnokia.com
http://darlamack.blogs.com/darlamack (sometimes)
http://technokitten.blogspot.com
http://www.flash-lite.de

But I also read/use (not entirely mobile)

The Register – we all know this one
Talk3g.co.uk – that mobile forum
IGN.com – for films and sometimes gaming
spoNg – gaming news
http://www.rogerandjames.blogspot.com – comedy blog by me and my mate Roger
http://www.alondonsingtonwrites.blogspot.com – the dating scene in London (written by a buddy of mine – again makes me laugh)

Oh and obviously my own forum (which has a phone section!) The PGF – http://s8.invisionfree.com/ThePGF – where the main chat at the moment is all things Wii related.

I love my Wii – ahem.

I *think* that’s it – although I’m sure I’ve missed some…

6. What was your mobile bill last month? What do you think is a fair amount to pay for your mobile service each month?
I HONESTLY don’t want to say – it was a bit hideous – the good thing is I get my data charges back on expenses BUT – you do the math.

It’s three figures…

I’m kicking off at Vodafone at the moment because MMS is no longer part of my bundle – which, quite frankly is ridiculous… But yeah – I’m giving them two months.

7. Pick 3 people that you admire and rate in the mobile industry and give us 2-3 lines about each.
Personally – I guess Scott Beaumont for a start, (no corporate sucking up here – seriously) Mobizines was born out of a management buy-out at T-Mobile which he personally headed up.

And to give me a job based purely on my passion for the product and the mobile industry is something that I will for ever be in his debt for!

Secondly – I’m a big fan of most (if not all) mobile bloggers – there’s no real one that stands out for me but that whole ‘community’ (of which I hope to eventually be a part of) is growing. And people are sitting up and taking notice. The example being: Bloggers being invited to the big Mobile Industry events around the world. Nokia/Motorola/SE etc want YOU to use their product and enjoy it and then they want you to blog about it.

Over the past 6mths I’ve read a lot of articles regarding ‘How to get bloggers to blog about your product’ or in most cases ‘How NOT to get bloggers to blog about your product’ – its a tough one.

I guess that’s why I’ve come clean about who I am and what I do etc as I know eventually I would’ve been found out/discovered – which doesn’t do ANYONE any favours!

Thirdly?
I haven’t got one – I’m hoping to go to 3GSM next month – so maybe someone will impress me there!
:o)

8. Do you have any pets?
Nope. It’s a bit annoying really – I love dogs and I used to have one – but I’ve recently discovered I have a potentially fatal allergy to all kinds of animal fur.

I spend my time with my Wii.

Brilliant.

I s’pose I could get a tortoise..

OOO!
just remembered!
I’ve got a Nintendog called Bruno!
lol

9. What one issue or technological advancement would you like to see with the mobile industry? What are you looking forward to?
I must admit – I am intrigued about the iPhone. I’m itching to see if it will have the massive impact a lot of people think it will.. Now the dust has settled things are becoming clearer about the product.

The UI looks pretty special – but other than that – *shrug* – d’ya know what I mean?
I am a big fan of convergence – I recently filled in a Nokia survey in regards to the N73 and in doing so I gave away the fact that I only carry my phone. No Blackberry, no MP3 player/iPod, no PDA/Organiser, no Diary etc etc..

More convergence – that’s what I want.

Oh – and that thing they did in Japan? With the move to standardise every phone charger?!
WHY ISNT THAT WORLDWIDE?!

NOKIA! Please STOP changing EVERYTHING. Memory cards & Chargers being my key example…

Grr..

10. What’s your ringtone?
The Killers – When you were young
My phone only rings briefly as I pick it up sharpish – so that opening guitar is fine by me.

Message wise I had the ‘woo dini’ of a Jawa up until about two days ago – right now I’m experimenting with the ‘3D Tones’ – we’ll see eh?
Incidentally – I upgraded my N73 from standard to Internet Edition thanks to Stefan’s instructions over at Ring Nokia..
Good work fella.

11. What’s the last movie you saw at the cinema?
Casino Royale.

If you’ve seen it – ’nuff said.
If you’ve not – hit ctrl T and book your ticket now!

12. What services do you most use on your handset?
Obviously Mobizines first – I must admit that I HAVE to as part of my job but I actually READ it if you know what I mean?
Ok – so I might not read Shoewawa – but Pocket-lint for instance – I read everyday.

What else?

Agile Messenger – can’t be without this one.
Yahoo Go! – Great App.
MP3 player – I go spare if ever I forget my earphones.
Opera Mini – (although I use Safari sometimes)

My active standby is: Mobizines/Contacts/Calendar/Agile/Bluetooth/MP3 player.

13. What’s the hottest mobile service to catch your eye recently?
Yahoo GO 2.0 on Java – it’s about time they caught up with the Java users. Reporo & Widsets are doing well also – its good to have a bit of competition! Sky Mobile is also a very good idea – and that’s the kind of convergence I’m talking about. Setting your Sky+ to record from your mobile? Brilliant stuff.

14. When did you last send a picture / video message — and who was it to?
*check sent items*

I sent an MMS of me pulling various stupid faces to a friend of mine who I knew was feeling down. It made her laugh. Job done.

Before that – I sent a pic of my new cowboy boots (I love them) to a friend of mine… No really.

15. What new mobile companies have caught your attention this year?
Pass. I keep an eye on Widsets and Reporo (who’ve done well with their CPW deal). But that’s about it – I need to improve this area of my knowledge base…

16. What is the best thing and the worst thing about the mobile industry?
Worst – Data charges & unclear tariffs.
T-Mobile Web n Walk/X-Series on Three – THATS the way forward.
There’s your answer.

Saying that – something that me seethe recently – my mate’s Dad, been with T-Mobile for yonks – on an old one2one contract(!) his last bill was for something like £160-odd quid and he’d used 270mins and sent 10 sms’.

Ok – so he’s 65yrs old and isn’t that savvy.
BUT – T-Mobile should’ve seen this and recommended a new contract to him.

THAT really annoyed me.

Thank you James! Thanks for taking the time!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

6 replies on “15 questions to James Whatley of Refresh Mobile”

Good point!

*thinks about it*

Left school in ’96 – got my first phone in my first year at college.
So that must’ve been Christmas ’96.

And I’ve always has the same number…

So… I stand corrected – 10yrs!

Sorry!
I wrote the answers over the course of a couple of days and kept coming back to it and had forgotten what I’d already written etc…

*runs away and hides*

10 years is still something of a record, methinks. I’ve had my number for around 6 years, a little longer than we’re have mobile number portability in Australia. But I’m a little younger than you lot, too. 😛

How long as the rest of the world had mobile number portability? Australia tends to be behind the times with things like that.

🙂

I found it through this place mate – so all the thanks should be to Ewan really.
But yeah – I do like it…

And Daniel?

One of my friends read this interview and took great pleasure in telling me that he’d had his number longer than me…

Yeah – and my Dad’s bigger than your Dad!

🙂

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