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Despite being on what seems one big UK road trip the last months, there’s been a number of stories which have successfully deposited themselves in the memory bank over the last 30 days or so. And here they are…

UK Gets Its First Intel-Powered Smartphone

San Diego will be arriving on European shores very shortly. No it’s not the start of latin-fused easy listening collective Euro tour, rather the first handset which will feature Intel processor technology. Whilst Intel has largely dominated the PC/laptop market, this foray clearly signals Intel’s intentions to take on the might of ARM, currently the dominant processor player in the mobile market. The handset will initially be offered via Orange on a 24 month contract.  Jokes about hoping it doesn’t turn out to be lemon, seem wholly inappropriate at this stage as initial feedback from prototype users appears highly positive.

Facebook May Launch Smartphone by Next Year

Whilst rumours have been abounding for the last 2 to 3 years over if and when Facebook might launch its own mobile handset range the latest is that Facebook may be gearing up for the launch of it’s own mobile handsets at some point in 2013. This follows reports that Facebook is busy looking to recruit hardware engineers to support handset construction. My big question has to be over what Facebook’s unique proposition will be and how users will take to it, given the degree of integration Facebook and other social media tools have within existing handset ranges. And, if not successful what impact will it have on the brand that is Facebook and that all important consideration, shareholder value? I’ll be watching this one with interest...and no I don’t hold Facebook shares currently!

MoneySupermarket To Acquire MoneySavingExpert For £87 million

More than ever in these cash-strapped times people are turning to others to get advice on how best to cut down on household spending. With a £87 million acquisition tabled for the Money Saving Expert website by Money Supermarket, this isn’t likely to be a problem afflicting Martin Lewis finance journalist and self-positioned people’s champion. Founded by Martin Lewis way back in 2003 (can you think back that far??), clearly the value resides in the user submitted content and power of the forums not in the user experience provided by the site. Money Saving Expert currently boasts over 39 million unique visitors and about 277 million page impressions a month. My question is what impact, if any, this is likely to have on users, given that the perceived impartiality of the site in terms of not favouring one service provider over another will be adversely affected by any such acquisition. Or, will the experience be so subtle that users won’t pick up on any explicit branding relating to Money Supermarket. I guess buttons and links to relevant price comparison areas will be a giveaway. But then in these harsh economic times, giveaways aren’t always a bad thing are they?

Not so Great Western

Finally, a First (not so) Great Western user experience with personal resonance. In today’s “Open all hours” society, any website or online application not offering a 24/7 can often attract the spittle and venom of its users. I’m no exception in this respect, so imagine my frustration and disappointment when it came to trying to book a ticket one hour before travel on First’s main website and my bewilderment as I’m guided around a recursive loop of trying to select and book tickets. With hindsight I now believe this may be due to the proximity of my purchase to actual travel time, but is an hour too much to expect in this day and age? Some error/warning messaging would have been appreciated. We know that sometimes web front ends have to hide a multitude of constraints in back office processes and systems, but there’s so much you can do with user experience to allay some of these. With the Olympics fast approaching that old Nike strapline “Just do it” seems appropriate, and maybe with the adjunct “now without delay!”