Is there really nothing more to Nokia’s Lumia 900 than Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt?

I guess Nokia got even more than it could’ve hoped for after making its $1bn deal with Microsoft last year. On top of an epic decline in smartphone market share, and an even epic-er implosion of its share value, Nokia looks to have gained some awesome viral marketing tips from its Microsoft buddies (who could forget this campaign?).

In a particularly bold ignorant and aggressive misguided series of YouTube videos, Nokia takes the fight to smartphone rivals, labelling the competition as “borderline defective, glorified prototype[s]” (though, judging by the videos, they’re mainly criticising handsets built circa 2007 & 2010 – yes, that’s Nokia squaring their flagship saviour-of-a-mobile against 2/5 year old handset-shaped strawmen).

It’s all very odd. The three videos, the first shot in a massively expensive marketing drive to push the Nokia Lumia 900, are titled ‘death grip’, ‘outside’ and ‘fragile’. The ‘Beta Phone’ flaws they’re mocking are, respectively, dropped signal when the phone is held a certain way (i.e. anntenagate), low-quality screens that make viewing in direct sunlight difficult, and glass screens that break when dropped.

If you haven’t seen the videos yet, here’s a taste (keep a bottle of mouthwash handy):

The whole concept is absurd. For one thing, consumers aren’t really faced with a choice between a Lumia 900 and hypothetical phones with dull screens, dodgy antennas and cases made of snowflakes, launched back when Charlie Sheen still retained a slither of dignity. I’m sure there are some clumsy, gorilla-handed, half-blind wannabe-smartphone owners out there whose sausage-sized fingers are positively twitching from Nokia’s promise of an unbreakable, interference-free phone with a screen that throbs with the power of ten suns, but there’s got to be more to the 900 than FUD. Right?

These videos are awful. How cheap do you have to go to find a smartphone with a display that can’t be viewed on a sunny day? Is that what Nokia is pitching itself against? And is the ‘death grip’ something that only affects iPhones?

Actually, that last question isn’t even rhetorical. I checked the online user guides for Lumias 710 and 800:

You’re holding it wrong!

I guess these smartphones were prototypes too.

To be fair, maybe the iPhone 4’s antenna problems were so much worse than any other handsets – but considering it had a return rate of only 1.7% it couldn’t have been that bad (in comparison, Nokia’s N97 Mini was reported to have a return rate of 20%).

And what makes the Lumia 900 so much less breakable than the villainous, inferior ‘prototypes’ that came before it? It’s all to do with something called Gorilla Glass. You may have heard of it; as this article from PC World says:

Five years ago, the Apple iPhone launched the Gorilla Glass renaissance. There is some debate as to whether or not current iPhone models still use it or not. The Corning site lists devices that use Gorilla Glass, but states up front that there are non-disclosure agreements in place with some vendors that prohibit it from naming them. That sounds like something Apple would do. All I know is that I’ve dropped my iPhone 4S four times in the past week, and it doesn’t have a scratch.

Corning claims the super-strong glass is used in nearly 600 different products, and it expects 2011 revenue from Gorilla Glass to top $700 million.

Corning (the creators of Gorilla Glass) list 12 smartphone manufacturers as users of their product. What was Nokia’s point again?

But the thrust of these videos isn’t to highlight the 900’s superiority in terms of these aspects (I wouldn’t go so far as to call them ‘features’). The impression viewers are supposed to get when viewing these videos is that all the other smartphone manufacturers are out to dick over their customers in silly, petty ways. Now, I don’t think that Nokia’s ever been a nasty company; they used to have something of a reputation for quality. But they’re now partners with Microsoft: a company whose entire business strategy is based around fucking over their customers. Spare a thought for the poor souls who found themselves stricken, abandoned after buying into one of their many feeble attempts to penetrate the consumer market (e.g. Zune and all previous iterations of Windows mobile), or those who bought a barely operational Vista PC before quickly having to invest in another upgrade just to make it work.

The version of Windows 7 pre-installed on my parent’s laptop doesn’t even allow you to change the desktop background unless you pay for a £70 upgrade!

I expect that from Microsoft, but I’m disappointed in Nokia. However, having thought about it and with Redmond alumni Stephen Elop steering the Finnish company, I can see why they went for this type of negative campaign. The 900’s a huge deal for both Nokia and Microsoft – make or break, possibly. When needing to resuscitate Nokia’s smartphone sales and rescue Microsoft’s mobile OS from obscurity, they only had two options. One, they could genuinely produce a game-changing device with a user experience that makes other smartphones look dumb in comparison. Or two, they could spend a lot of money trying to convince people they’re doing option one. Which did they choose..? (Hint: Microsoft has no idea how to do option one).

In terms of specs, in direct comparison with the iPhone 4S, the Lumia 900 unambiguously arrives at a fairly decent second place (it may be out-muscled into third or fourth if some available Android handsets were thrown into the comparison). And in terms of user experience, the Windows Phone 7 operating system is nothing new. It was launched over a year ago and hardly anybody gives a shit.

This isn’t some revolutionary new device that is going to change the smartphone industry as we know it. This is a slightly improved version of the already available Lumia 800 running the same version of an operating system that very few people seem to want.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s a bad phone. For the price they’re flogging it, it’s probably a good bargain and, who knows, it may be entirely perfect for you in every conceivable way. I’m just saying it’s not objectively better than all other available smartphones and it is objectively inferior to the leading smartphones in several key ways. The Nokia campaign is predicated on the entirely false notion that the best-selling (and best-loved) smartphones of the past five years are (this quote again) “borderline defective, glorified prototype[s]”. Insanity.

More importantly, we don’t know if other smartphone manufacturers have been sitting in meetings, making bad decisions to wilfully and enthusiastically screw their customers. But we do know that some agency got the green light from Nokia (and possibly Microsoft) to make a series of videos that aim to deceive, frighten and confuse consumers into buying a product that can not live up to the hype.

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8 things I might’ve written about over the last three months if I could’ve been bothered

Blogging is exactly like watching a US TV series, listening to indy music or doing something special at tiny, nauseating milestone events in a relationship. If you keep at it, it’s the greatest, most rewarding thing in the world. However, if you pause for too long, it’s all to easy to stop giving a shit and forget why you were so fussed about it in the first place. I mean, Travis!? The only half-decent song on The Man Who is the secret track and I can not be arsed to listen to 3 minutes of Slide Show followed by 4 minutes of silence. Bastards.

Well, that’s just one of the reasons why I haven’t updated Crunkfish in such a long, long time. To make up for this blip in my otherwise extremely blippy posting rate, I’m condensing all the nerve-pinchingly exciting stuff I might’ve considered blogging about over the last three months, but never did because (when it comes down to it) I simply couldn’t be bothered, into one overly long list. Indulge, young patrons of the inane.

1. Backdated Movie Reviews

justin_long_cunt

In an early effort to encourage some blogging, I bought a subscription to ilovefilm.com. The promise to myself was that every movie would be reviewed. This was broken quicker than the one I gave my girlfriend about not digging out great lumps of snot from my nose and wiping it on the side of sofa. Sadly, my first attempt (an intelligent critique of Die Hard 4.0) was so curmudgeonly cynical it depressed me even more than Justin Long’s face. A succession of stinkers didn’t help things (worth mentioning the honourable exception of The Devil Wears Prada – ah, that reminds me, I think I need to add “banging on about how much I love Anne Hathaway” on to this list) and so I ended up not really bothering. A new promise will be that the next movie review I write will NOT rely on sarcy comments and crude similes. Saying that, my last cinema trip took me to Transformers 2 and what Michael Bay doesn’t know about story-telling, character, emotion and, well, good directing, he more than makes up for in gargantuan action sequences that offer the depth of a brownie’s vagina – without offering any satisfaction.

2. Geek Fury

Over the past few months, I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated by the nonsense buzz surrounding Google’s Android operating system. I own a Google phone and it’s alright – definitely deserving of some noise, particularly some clamour over when another update will arrive that fixes some of the more obvious annoyances and preferably gives it a prettification. However, I don’t understand all this hype around rocking Android on a bloody netbook. For the non-geek, Android is an operating system for a touchscreen phone that offers a messy, bloated, impossible-to-navigate app store selling mostly pointless and overpriced apps useful only on a mobile phone. It seems to offer nothing for a netbook. Stop it.

3. My mates have released a new EP!

My buddies, making up the crunktastic two-piece Apologies, I Have None, recently released a new EP, Two Sticks and Six Strings. In the words of Flood and Drought: “They are friendship, freedom, fun and passion and their music personifies this ethos. This EP is flesh and bone and this band is testament to the candor and mettle that turns van wheels, stokes throats and moves cold feet across this country chasing the map.” Great work, guys.

4. Plenty of fucked-up shit from Cracked.com

Every day I don’t write a post is a day when I don’t share some brilliance from the warped mind-stems of the Cracked word pits. Case in point: The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in the History of Fan Fiction. Where else on the internet would you find such a lovingly crafted article about insanity like this:

Tom [Riddle – AKA Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter] remembered how good he’d felt the previous night, how good Indiana’s [as in Indiana Jones’] cock had made him feel. He gave Indiana a lopsided grin. “We could play cards. Or we could discuss music.” He got up on his knees and pushed Indiana down on the sand. “Or we could make magic,” he whispered, slipping his wand from his pocket.

[Hmm…this article seems to have been taken down – probably due to the intensely disturbing nature of the content. Not put off? View the cached page here]

5. Banging on about how much I love Anne Hathaway

anne-hathaway-header

*Sigh* she’s just so lovely. My thesaurus broke trying to find the right words to describe her. An understated icon-in-the-making? A future Mrs. C. Fish? Maybe. Though I don’t really agree with marriage. Do you have to be gay to have a civil partnership? That’s discrimination that is. Sorry Annie, I love you but I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment. One day, people will talk about this great love that could never be…

anne-hathaway

6. Dangerously stupid Americans in a position of authority and influence

7. Atheist Activism

Let’s face it, God probably doesn’t exist. To clear this up, I say probably in the really rather strong sense to mean the existence of a God character is hugely unlikely and massively illogical. I know many people who agree with this view and yet they persist in granting unnecessary levels of respect to religion. Sure, there is a bit of a conflict between the liberal “respecting other cultures and all that shit” stance and the atheist “you believe in, like, an invisible space-dwelling, super Dumbledore?” view, but I’m fed up of otherwise rational people conceding secular ground to the religious types. Try this on for size: religion deserves no more respect and sensitivity than any other opinion, belief, passion, fashion, trend, or fad. Even hard-bitten atheists would reluctantly accept that it’s acceptable for religious studies to be taught in schools. Fuck that. I had to do R.E. for much of my secondary school and there was absolutely no point, other than to try and grant some sort of respectability and authority to the Bible. I want to be more of an Atheist Activist and make more of an effort to kick religion in the nuts.

8. fuckyeahskinnybitch

An almost bottomless supply of hot sluts in fine cuts – passed on by STNF. Fuckyeahskinnybitch really shows off the primary purpose of Tumblr – skinny bitches. Fuck yeah.

I’ve got another 14 things I wanted to get through in this post, but I guess that’ll have to wait for another time. Coming soon… Another 14 things I might’ve written about over the last three months if I could’ve been bothered.