Vodafone Live!, not available on the N86 [UPDATED]

POST UPDATED 12/10/09 – Scroll to the bottom of the article for the latest…

Vodafone, oh Vodafone, why do you upset me so?

Regular readers of my work will know that I have an ongoing love affair with Vodafone UK, or ‘Big Red’ as I affectionately call her.

A mini Voda-moan

We’ve had our ups, our downs and our fallings-out, but over the years we’ve grown to appreciate our mutual quirks and subsequent relationship demands. Lo and verily,  today we have another… hurdle to overcome.

Some of you may remember me wondering just where my handset of the moment, the N86, would land when it reached these shores. I speculated that it would be land on the lap of Big Red, but alas they passed and plumped instead for the N97.

Ah well.

So far, so what eh?

Being the Nokia aficionado that I am however, I wasn’t going to let a small thing like no carrier support prevent me from owning my handset of choice, so I promptly went out and bought one.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Thing is, among the myriad of reasons for me having been a Vodafone customer for the best part of 15yrs, one of them – today at least – is its home portal, currently going under the name of Vodafone Live!

It’s through this portal that I find music, games and mainly, my train times. I don’t drive and when I make plans, I keep them. I often plan my journeys with an almost military-like precision and Vodafone ‘My Trains’ is an invaluable service that I use pretty much every day, without fail.

From here I may choose to visit different parts of the Live! service… but this particular saved bookmark is nearly always my jumping off point.

Now, look at these two pictures….

Vodafone Live Vodafone Live on the N86

Something’s wrong with the one on the right, right? Of course there is.

Even worse though is this, the Vodafone Live Homepage:

Vodafone Live Vodafone Live on the N86

Both pages are from http://live.vodafone.com, both are connected using the Vodafone Live APN. The only difference is the handset I used; my old N95 8GB is on the left and on the right, my beloved N86.

I asked @VodafoneUK about a possible fix on Twitter, to which they replied (over three tweets):

Using the WAP access point will give you best chance of it rendering properly however it maybe a case of it not being Vodafone Live! compatible if it’s not rendering normally through the WAP access point. It may be worth posting your settings on the eForum to make sure everything is set up as much as it can be bearing in mind the N86 isn’t a phone we stock. Thanks.

The first part is fine. Naturally I’d check to make sure I was using VF Live as the default access point. I did. I am. The latter part, ‘bear in mind isn’t a phone we stock’… hmm. This was backed up and re-iterated by a couple of Vodafone staffers who also said ‘we don’t support phones we don’t range’.

This is also fine. A perfectly justifiable reason for not rendering your web pages. However, to me at least, this is EXACTLY the reason that you should be doing just that for these devices. Here I am, with a T-Mobile exclusive device (for argument’s sake) and I’m looking for a new network. I decide on Vodafone and sign on for a SIM-only deal. Then I discover that my phone isn’t supported on their webpages, so I decide to go somewhere else.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

The N86 is a similar screen size, build and design to the not-too-shabby (and Vodafone supported) Nokia N85. If it’s a simple case of switching the user agent* sniffer to present the N85 screens for the N86, then this is not a big job. Nor is it complex. Quick fix. Done.

*For the uninitiated, a user agent is basically the identifier string for the browser that you use when you browse the web (mobile or otherwise). For instance, the user agent string for the N85 looks something like this:

NokiaN85-1: Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.3; U; Series60/3.2 NokiaN85-1/11.047; Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 ) AppleWebKit/413 (KHTML, like Gecko) Safari/413

Whereas the N86 user agent string looks a little something like this:

NokiaN86:  Mozilla/5.0 (SymbianOS/9.3; Series60/3.2 NokiaN86-1/10.086;; Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 ) AppleWebKit/525 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 BrowserNG/7.1.13380

(Thanks to friend of Really Mobile Richard Hyndman, CTO at Mippin for that extra detail)

A final thought…

Back in my youth, while working through college, I had a friend who spent a his time working at a rather large chain of fast-food restaurants. The Manager of which had a policy that meant that for any food voucher or special offer coupon presented at the counter, no matter for which chain (be it for McDonald’s, Burger King, Wimpy etc), if they could fulfil it then they would honour the voucher.

As he told me at the time:

“It is better to please someone else’s customer who might come back another day than to tell them you’re not interested and never see them again.”

————- UPDATED – 12/10/09 ————-

A member of @VodafoneUK’s PR team has literally just been in touch to let us know that the Vodafone Live! pages have now indeed been provisioned for the Nokia N86.

Here’s a screen shot to prove it…

Huzzah! Its a-Live!
Huzzah! It's a-Live!

Congrats Vodafone, you’ve just earned 20 ReallyMobile points.

Keep it up! 🙂