An ode to Nokia

Okay, so this is not exactly an ode, per se. Just something that I felt like writing about Nokia, now that the company has ceased to exist as we know it.

I guess everyone has a story about how their first phone was a Nokia (except for those weirdos who got a BlackBerry) and so do I. My first phone back in 2003 was the Nokia 3315, which was a stylish variation of the Nokia 3310, a phone so tough it’s the only known object that can kill Chuck Norris and Rajinikanth. Simultaneously.

The reason I got the 3315 because my sister had one before me and I loved it so much my parents ended up getting me one so I could leave hers alone. It was a strange silverish-gold color, which now that I think about it, was rather gay. But I loved it, nevertheless.

For two whole months.

Yes, that’s how long I loved that phone, until I came across the Nokia 3530 and suddenly I forgot all about my 3315. It had color screen, which back then was as rare as finding an original Pritam song. It also had GPRS support, which was the mobile version of dialup in terms of speed. You could feel the continents drifting while files downloaded but it was something new and exciting, nonetheless.

Oddly enough, it was the first device I used to go online. I didn’t have a PC while growing up because my parents lived under a giant rock and believed kids shouldn’t have computers, so this was the only way to go online for me back then. Yes, I watched porn on it. It was in GIFs. It got the job done.

That phone was with me for nearly two years, after which I had a major lapse in judgement and got the 2650. I was young and naive back then, so you can’t really blame me for that. It was a mediocre phone and had a design so gay it went for pride parades. Needless to say, it didn’t last long and was quickly replaced by the N-Gage QD in 2005.

The N-Gage QD is by far one of my most favorite Nokia devices of all time and favorite phones I’ve owned. It lacked the quirks of the previous generation N-Gage, such as the side talking feature (and annoyingly, also MP3 playback and 3.5mm headphone jack) but it was epic. It was a gaming device primarily and considering my interest in gaming I enjoyed the hell out of that phone. I still miss the fun I had on that phone nine years ago on today’s phones. (Gameloft may have released many games on mobile since then but the original Asphalt: Urban GT will remain the best.) It was an amazing little device and I wish Nokia had made many more of those.

The QD also stayed around for a couple of years until I had a second momentary lapse in judgment and replaced it with a Sony Ericsson W710i. I won’t dwell on that phone much since it doesn’t concern this post but I wasn’t too fond of it.

The last and final Nokia phone I bought was the 5700 XpressMusic in 2008. It was a sensible choice and was a decent phone but I didn’t particularly like it as such. It stayed with me for two years, but saw use only for about six months until I got a job at Techtree, after which I started using review devices and the phone spent most of the time in a drawer. Eventually it was sold to get an LG Optimus One (lapse in judgement no. 3), but that story is for another day.

Back in the day I was an enormous fan of Nokia phones. I particularly loved the Symbian operating system and how flexible it was. The N-Gage QD was my first smartphone and in a way my first computer. I used the hell out of my phones, probably more than most people would and I loved all of them because they were all lovable devices.

Nokia phones back then had a personality, which you hardly get to see in phones these days, even Nokia’s own. Each phone would have some sort of a quirk, usually in the design. Some designs were particularly outlandish; who can forget phones such as the 3650 with its insane circular keyboard, the 7600 with its oddball square design and rounded corners, the 7280 that looked like a lipstick case, the 6800 where the keyboard split open and turned full QWERTY, the Communicator series and of course, the N-Gage. Many of these weren’t even practical but they had their own individuality. Even today they can stand out among the crowd and get noticed.

You’d expect designs to start off as boring and then over a period of time get exciting but pretty much the exact opposite happened with mobile phones. Unfortunately, the black slabs won and even Nokia eventually had to give up its whimsical designs and try to fit into the same old boring mould as everyone else. And while doing that they completely forgot about the software, which was the same old Symbian S60, once a great operating system, now clearly long in the tooth and with one foot in the grave, begging to be put to rest. Except, Nokia continued to drag it around like a fool until Microsoft came around and threw some money at them.

Anyway, the Nokia of the past seven years is mostly dull and sad, and not something I want to remember the company by. Instead I’ll remember the great designs that the company had in the past, the ability to think outside the box and do something different even when the competition around you did not, having a user friendly interface on their phones (compared the UI of the 3310 to that of any of the Motorola or Siemens phone from back then and you’ll know), great battery life, build quality that can survive the big bang, and cameras, that even today, take the best photos.

I have been harsh on Nokia in the past few years, only because I saw the company I once loved and respected first turn into a bumbling idiot who had no clue what is happening around them and then turn into Microsoft’s bitch. And now it is being assimilated into Microsoft, which is perhaps the saddest thing that can happen to anyone, especially a company as creative as Nokia.

Anyway, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Regarding ads within Windows 8

There is currently an outrage regarding ads found within first party Windows 8 apps, such as Weather and Stocks. People are ticked off by the fact that Microsoft is placing ads within Windows 8 after charging for the OS.

Now I’ve seen these ads and they are not hideous like Google ads. But it’s not the fact that they look bad but it’s their mere presence is what’s annoying.

Usually when a developer wants to monetize a software, he either charges money for it or makes it free and earns through advertising. Microsoft here is doing both, charging for the OS and placing ads within the OS.

Now some are arguing that these ads aren’t within the OS itself but within apps. But these are not third party apps that you downloaded. These are not even first party Microsoft apps that you have to download separately. No, these are first party apps that come pre-installed within the OS, and are part of the OS experience, an experience which now also includes ads.

I am yet to see any other developer put ads within a paid software. Apple has no ads within OS X. Google provides Android for free and still there are no ads in any of the apps even though Google is primarily an ad company (the YouTube app is not a core OS app and has to be downloaded separately or is installed by the OEMs). Even Ubuntu, which is a free operating system, has no ads (admittedly it’s been a while since I used Ubuntu or any other Linux distro, so things may have changed now).

Sure, some of us bought Windows 8 for a really low price. But there will be many who will be buying it at the full price. Imagine their chagrin when they see ads after paying that much. Again, it’s not about the ads being bad or ugly but it’s principally wrong.

Microsoft can’t double dip here. Either remove the ads or make the OS free and place as many ads as you want. There is no need to take the Mickey out of paying customers. This is exactly the sort of behavior that drives people to piracy.

The future is Metro

I have been using Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my PC for the past few days and I must say I do like it. Having said that I still find the transition from the desktop to Metro UI jarring. Yes, for me it’s the other way around, because being a desktop user I find myself more in the desktop side than the Metro side. 

Till now I couldn’t figure out why Microsoft would have both the Metro and the desktop UI in one OS. But now I think that they are just conditioning the user for the future versions of Windows that will only use the Metro UI. Had they gone from desktop directly to Metro everyone would have started bitching, including me. Besides, Metro hardly has any applications for it so the switching process wouldn’t have gone smoothly at all. 

But in future when Metro does have all the basic apps and games, and that people slowly start getting used to using it with a keyboard and mouse, Microsoft would slowly cut the cord of the desktop UI. People would still complain, but only momentarily, before they realize that now they don’t really need the desktop UI at all. 

This could happen with the next version of Windows or the one after that. But I have a feeling that the current Windows UI as we know it isn’t going to stick around much longer. 

The Man Who Laughed At The iPhone

The idea that Apple might get into the TV business is apparently making Samsung laugh. This reminds me of an incident that happened a while ago. There was a man called Steve Ballmer, who once laughed at the iPhone.

Here he is, producing the aforementioned laughter from his smug face. 

You know what happened to that man? He got his ass handed to him by Apple. Not only did his precious Windows Mobile fail, even the new Windows Phone is having a hard time. All this from a company that not just Ballmer but many other believed couldn’t succeed in this segment. 

And now we have Samsung laughing at the yet to be announced Apple TV. This is the same Samsung, by the way, that is getting its ass torched in almost every field Apple operates in, including smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and notebooks. 

I’m going to file this under my own claim chowder folder. Couple of years down the line, we’ll see who’s laughing.