Wednesday, September 19, 2007


My contract with Verizon has just come up, and my two year old cheapo Motorola phone just signed up for AARP. Time to play the field and see what's shaking in telephone land.

As much as a geek as I am, most people are surprised that I have never owned a smartphone. For me, phones are about making phone calls. I want the phone to be reliable, have great battery life, have a contact list for speed dial, and get great reception. Bonus points for voice activated dialing. Don't care about cameras (they suck), MP3s (have them on my laptop), web access (it sucks, and I have my laptop), texting (email), etc.

WAY back in the day, I was addicted to my beloved Psion 3a as a portable device. Used it for calendaring, meeting notes, to dos, etc. When laptops matured to the point of being desktop replacements, I couldn't justify carrying two devices any more and reluctantly gave up the Psion. To my mind, they have been one of the few players to actually "get it" and "get it right"

With the iPhone out, I am again tempted. If it had 3G connectivity, I would own one already. Still I'm tempted.

In doing some research, I found the surprise of all surprises: an absolutely brilliant post by the actor (and apparent gadget freak) Stephen Fry on all things smart phone. Excerpt below, but the whole piece is a must read for any self-respecting geek.

Design matters
By design here, I mean GUI and OS as much as outer case design. Let’s go back to houses. The sixties taught us, surely, that architectural design, commercial and domestic, is not an extra. The office you work in every day, the house you live in every day, they are more than the sum of their functions. We know that sick building syndrome is real, and we know what an insult to the human spirit were some of the monstrosities constructed in past decades. An office with strip lighting, drab carpets, vile partitions and dull furniture and fittings is unacceptable these days, as much perhaps because of the poor productivity it engenders as the assault on dignity it represents. Well, computers and SmartPhones are no less environments: to say “well my WinMob device does all that your iPhone can do” is like saying my Barratt home has got the same number of bedrooms as your Georgian watermill, it’s got a kitchen too, and a bathroom.” … I accept that price is an issue here; if budget is a consideration then you’ll have to forgive me, I’m writing from the privileged position of being able to indulge my taste for these objects. But who can deny that design really matters? Or that good design need not be more expensive? We spend our lives inside the virtual environment of digital platforms - why should a faceless, graceless, styleless nerd or a greedy hog of a corporate twat deny us simplicity, beauty, grace, fun, sexiness, delight, imagination and creative energy in our digital lives? And why should Apple be the only company that sees that? Why don’t the other bastards GET IT??

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