Techno Life

John Caudwell is best known as the hard-talking boss of high street mobile chain Phones4U, but his business interests also include a logistics company and The Discovery Store. When he's not on the phone, he flies his own helicopter and zips to work on a hi-tech racing bike, and he loves his ancient Psion organiser. Just don't ask him to send you an e-mail - he famously banned their use in the office.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


This is a nice phone. I have a salsa ring tone on it. But what I really want is a flip phone, because using keylock is a pain. There are some nice flip phones coming through now - I don't know why it has taken so long. My mobile is always switched on, and so are all my people's - it's a cultural thing. If it goes off in a meeting and they have to apologise, that's fine with me. Bluetooth headsets are good for arm-ache - I even wear mine at my desk now. But the technology still has a few glitches - I call it Dogtooth.


This bike has got a carbon-fibre frame, drop handlebars and lots of gears.

But it's what is in the lungs and the legs that really matters. I often cycle to work and I'm doing a sponsored bike ride in September: 2,400 miles from Athens to Stoke-on-Trent. I'm hoping to do about 150 miles a day, but that distance could be difficult to maintain in places. In Greece it will be very hot and that will make it hard work in the saddle.


I've run my life on one of these for seven or eight years now. It's got a keyboard that I like - I do all my own diary entries - but it's a bit big. My three PAs know to back it up everywhere. It went down once and I lost a week's work. I lived in fear of people turning up unexpectedly for months. I have an e-mail address but I don't give it out much. Used correctly, it's is a powerful tool, but unnecessary e-mail is the cancer of business. I reckon 90% of it is a waste of time, and you lose the important messages among the rubbish.


I can get to meetings in an hour that would take four or five hours by road, though the lack of facilities for landing a helicopter in London is appalling. Compared with other models, the R44 is pretty economical to run. I learned to fly fixed-wing in 1985, rotary in 1995. The first 10 hours learning to fly a helicopter are hard, but it soon becomes instinctive.


This home entertainment controller, which I have in my London flat, impresses me. It takes all the different remotes you have for your CD, TV and DVD and puts them into one controller. You can programme it to turn on the oven, or set it up so that pressing one button turns on the TV, draws the curtains and dims the lights.

A lot of future developments will be in the area of man-machine interfaces like this.

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