Whatley on Wednesday: Vodafone’s MusicStation

[ A wardrobe malfunction, that is, I was on a plane for hours on end, prevented me from publishing this at the appointed hour – Ewan. Now, over to Whatley…]

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I woke up on Monday morning with the intention of writing this week’s ‘Whatley on Wednesday’ piece about firmware and firmware upgrades.
Recently a fellow Mobile Geek of London was exclaiming to me that ‘Nokia Rule for doing this [latest release of their firmware – V20]!”

I disagreed. The idea is great, but the application and execution leaves a lot to be desired.

We argued… and then decided it didn’t matter and discussed something else, (like whose round it was next). I left the pub with every intention to write this argument up (or at least my side of it) and post it right here for your reading (dis)pleasure. Delete where applicable.

That was until, just as I was leaving the house, I heard the latest single from UK indie group Scouting for Girls, ‘Elvis ain’t dead’. And, as with every song that you hear just before you leave the house in the morning, it became stuck in my head.

By the time I made it to the train station I had hummed the bloody thing to death and had decided that I needed this track NOW.

So I thought I’d make the most of NOW and jump onto Vodafone’s new Music Station service.

Awesome, not only will I get the track I want but I’ll also make notes throughout and then I can write it up as a review the service for SMS Text News. Score!

This – rather oddly – all happened before Monday’s Unlimited Drinks and also before yesterdays Omnifone stories that Ewan ran… Hmm… Telepathy’s working then.
But alas, Vodafone were not going to make it easy for me.

I arrived at the Vodafone Live! music page and I’m asked to download and install the Music Station Application (I had no idea it was an app?!).

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Not a problem, I thought, I’ve done this before. I wonder how good their user education/hand holding is. To their merit, it’s not too bad at all. I think any average normob could find their way through this process. Well. Right up until they hit this point:

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Rubbish. I tried again: Same problem.

This is becoming annoying. I turn the phone off, turn it back on again, try again and…. STILL the same problem!

I hit 191 on my phone and call customer service. After a little explaining I eventually get passed through to the technical dept…

‘Hello Mr Whatley, what error do you have?”

‘It says here: ‘Certificate error, contact the application vendor’.”

‘Is there an error code?”

‘No, it’s a certificate error… No number. I have a screenshot that I can email over if that helps?”

‘Er…(small amount of confusion at this point on my keenness to help maybe?) No sorry. We’re not actually allowed to give out our email addresses.”

‘Okaaaaaaaay…”

‘Can I call you back on a different line?”

So I say yes, and they do. And lo and behold I’m requested to repeat the process (obviously my word isn’t good enough) and guess what? Same error.

THEN I was asked to do something, and I must state that VF UK have NEVER EVER asked me to check this in the history of being a VF customer, they asked me to check my firmware!

To the layman – this is the software version that your phone is running. Same thing on every Nokia, got an N95? Try it now. *#0000# – anything below V20 means you really should think about upgrading.
(Benefits here.)

Anyway – ‘Sam’ (I think that was her name) informs me that my current firmware, (V20, obviously) is the problem as ‘the Music Station is only compatible with Vodafone branded firmware versions 10b and 10c”.

Let’s just pause and take that it in for a moment.

That’s right. Vodafone’s flagship ‘Hero’ service, The MUSIC STATION, the big one they’re pushing this Christmas does not work with the latest Nokia N95 firmware.

‘Sorry Mr Whatley, you’re going to have to go back to version 10.”

‘That is not going to happen.”

Thinking on this now, a few hours after the event, when I originally got the handset from Vodafone it was running V11. I didn’t even know VF had V10. On top of that – I didn’t know you could go backwards with firmware either! That’s a new one on me.

VFUK suck for not making sure their leading application is compatible with the latest Nokia firmware.

So I’m sorry folks – no MusicStation review from me today. I do have a MusicStation handset but alas the generic Nokia firmware that I’m running is not compatible with the service.

Doh.

EDIT: I met Terence Eden of Vodafone at the Unlimited Drinks on Monday. He explained to me that the Vodafone MusicStation is only compatible with Vodafone’s own firmware. He also assured me that the MusicStation does work above V10 as he has seen it working on (Voda’s own variants of) V11 and V12.

Terence’s defence was that I should not have changed my firmware from VF’s to Nokia’s Generic.

Thinking on this now – that’s not a bad argument – anyone who knows me knows how much I like to hack… ahem… augment my phones so I can the optimum functionality out of them.
Well. It’s not a bad argument when you consider someone who might not buy their handset directly from Vodafone. Whose firmware is already generic upon purchase, what about them?

Next week: That rant on firmware and firmware upgrades, (the one I wanted to write this week).

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  • Mike

    When I tried the Nokia upgrade software last night, it told me I had the latest version (12.0.013).

    What gives? What do I need to do to get me some V20 fruitiness? How can the blogerati get this and not me? where is the justice?

  • http://shkspr.mobi Terence Eden

    You can read my (fairly unbiased) thoughts on MusicStation at http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2007/12/musicstation-some-thoughts.html – now with screenshots!

    The firmware issue is tricky. On the one hand, everyone wants new and shiny features, on the other, it costs a lot of money to check that firmware is suitable for release to the mass market and won’t destroy a user’s phone.

    In this case, the Vodafone certified firmware contains a digital certificate which ensures that the software is only installed on a compatible handset. This makes sure that the software should run as expected and reduces the number of angry calls to customer services.

    Ideally, you should have seen a screen on Vodafone live! telling you that you needed the official firmware. Unfortunatley at the moment, it’s quite tricky to tell the firmware of the phone via the UA*

    I’m sure that the Vodafone variant of V20 for the N95 will be available soon. In the mean time, why not invest in an N95 8GB ;-)

    Terence (Not speaking on behalf of my employer)
    *Yes, the irony isn’t lost on me.

  • Mike

    Ah. My N95 product code is for a 3UK handset. They need to approve the V20 build first, and the Nokia SW updater won’t give me the goods until they do.

    In the meantime, I’m stuck here knowing Mr Whatley has a faster camera than me. That *burns*…..

  • http://3xseries.wordpress.com/ Ben Smith

    James,

    That certificate error looks familiar from my E61 and happens when I try to install unsigned applications. Turning this off in the App Mgr application allows things to proceed OK… Maybe VF are signing their apps with their own certificate which is only included in their firmware?

    Ben

  • SE fanboy

    don’t bother installing musicstation, its crap!

  • http://whatleydude.vox.com/ James Whatley

    @Mike – I can easily fix that for you. Although I’m not sure if you’d lose your X-Series apps.
    S’up to you really.

    With all respect to Vodafone I wouldn’t hold my breath for the V20 variant of their firmware. Same with the other networks.
    I’m really glad Terence has posted again, he’s a great guy and it’s nice to get the story from the other side of the coin as it were.
    I would invest in an N95 8GB if a) It was an ‘investment’ ;) and if b) My 8GB micro SD card hadn’t just turned up.
    :)

    I see the point Terence is making – but again, the only issue I have with this argument is that some independent stores would happily sell you/me a generic, Nokia branded N95 on a Vodafone Contract without a second thought. What happens then?

    I can understand VF making sure that their software/applications won’t work on competitor variants – but Nokia’s own in-house generic software? Approved by Nokia themselves?

    Hmmmm…

    For some reason I am reminded of when the N95 was first launched and all the big hoo-hah about VF (and T-Mobile too if I remember rightly) ‘crippling’ their handsets by removing the Internet Telephony settings…

  • simon

    I am going un-install it. when my n95 rings it just cuts the music and turns the application off. when i try to go online it says i have too many connections so i cant surf and listen to music at the same time. or read a delivered text because then the application cuts off…. its a great idea and if it worked would be worth the money, but along with the tracks it is continually saying is loading and then never does!!

  • http://blog.spinvox.com James Whatley

    @Simon – from the sounds of it you need to upgrade your firmware… But then again if you do that you won’t be able to use MusicStation…

    Round and round we go!

  • Adrian Hirst

    Could we not just get a copy of the certificates somehow and install them?

  • http://blog.spinvox.com James Whatley

    @Aidan Hirst – Great idea! I’ll just go and download them from Vodafone’s power user friendly website…

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