Dear Lumia 900

Per my last entry, I scoped out the scene and after much effort, managed to acquire myself a Nokia Lumia 900. It was difficult to come by, and I ended up using it for about a week. While I enjoyed it immensely, some things didn’t work out and I ended up returning it. What follows is a letter to the Lumia.

Dear Lumia,

I guess I should start by saying that I’m sorry. We had a wonderful week together, but it just wasn’t working for me. What we had was new and exciting, but I was just coming off of my anger at Steve, you know? I mean, I was so dedicated to my iEverything that reading his biography rocked the boat a bit too hard for me. I felt connected to a philosophy of free and creative computing that I was convinced was supported by the mind behind the iUniverse. Turns out I was wrong, sort of. I lashed out. I’m sorry you were caught in the cross-fire. You didn’t deserve it. You did some really amazing things. I was blown away by some of your features. At the same time, I was shocked to find that you struggled with the basics. I mean, one of the things I do most with my .mp3-ready device is listen to books on tape (as a spotify subscriber, I never need to load music onto a device again), but your Zune player didn’t really make listening to the books easy. It didn’t remember where I last was in a track, and I couldn’t quickly navigate to the last point (I didn’t want to hold down “>>” to get there. Can’t I just grab the location and move it around? I mean, that’s a pretty ubiquitous feature nowadays.) Day 2 I started carrying around my iPhone so that I could listen to books on tape comfortably. The iPhone felt small and insignificant compared to you, but I still carried it with me everywhere. That was really telling, if you ask me. We had some special times, but I turned to my iPhone too often. I didn’t want to be that guy, the one who carries around 15 devices. I already have so many that I wanted to limit myself to one phone. A Macbook Pro, smartphone, iPad, Kindle Touch and PS Vita are enough for me. Too much, maybe. Not that I carry them all around with me, of course.

I started thinking about the investment, both of time and money, that I had put into my iPhone. It fits me like a glove, not because of anything specific, but rather because I made it work for me over time. In trying to make you work for me, Lumia, I realized I just didn’t have the energy. The iPhone just works for me because I’ve spent so much time with it. With the “new iPhone” (which is what it’s going to be called, by the way) around the corner, I wanted to liberate my upgrade opportunity. I know it’ll be great, but not perfect. Just like you, Lumia. Just like you.

~Elan

I know that got a bit personal; I apologize if it was TMI. The thing about trying the new phone was that it was very easy to get the phone, play with it for a week, and return it. AT&T made purchasing the new phone almost impossible for me, but the return process was completely painless. I went back to using my iPhone and it was as though nothing at all had changed. Very comforting.

Anyway, this brings me to a rehash of the last post. Granted, the post took a very hard angle about Apple’s philosophy as envisioned by Steve Jobs, but a conversation I had with my friend Erin brought some very interesting points to mind. To summarize our conversation, I had been too focused on a specific demographic of Apple’s user-base and extrapolated. Many people who invest in Apple products adopt a certain lifestyle, true, but that doesn’t account for the rest of the folks out there who are multi-platform users, or perhaps just a little bit calmer about the “Apple Lifestyle” thing. I’ll admit it. I was a serious Apple Fanboy. I soap-boxed with the rest of ’em about how great Apple products are, waxing nostalgic about playing Math Blaster or Glider on the old Khaki Macintosh or the first time we saw the iMac, with its translucent case and cable, handle begging you to pick it up (which, of course, still seems odd. Why should it have a handle?)

Since I started working for a corporation, I’ve developed mixed feelings about the “meaning” that products and brands have in our lives. I understand it (google that, hand me some kleenex, etc.) but have grown to resent it. I suppose that reading the Steve Jobs biography reinforced how strongly I had attached myself to the Apple brand and my reaction to that was to call Apple and all of its dedicated customers corrupt.

A brand is a concept that has changed dramatically, and the etymology of the word makes  for a very interesting perspective. Brand used to be a thing you did to your farm animals to mark them as your own. Conceptually, it’s not so different now. The aim of many companies is to have their brand become a verb or replace the noun (google, kleenex, etc.) effectively marking the individuals who use the products. A brand is a multifaceted label, and whether or not each individual who partakes in a brand’s product has fully endorsed it as a lifestyle choice, the label is applied to them, if only temporarily. This won’t change any time soon, but as I’m growing more aware of it, I try to make conscious decisions about what exactly I endorse, both actively and inadvertently. I’m not going to canvas outside of the Safeway or anything, but it’s good to think about these things, sometimes…

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2 Responses

  1. I think it’s funny that you returned your *phone* because the audiobook feature didn’t meet your expectations.

    The game has completely changed. Now a phone is measured less by how well it can handle its core functions (making/receiving calls reliably) and more by how it performs at being a portable computer. That’s got to be tough for any competitor – how do you compete with a company who started by creating the perfect media player and then turned it into a phone?

    The media player was ubiquitous long before the smartphone and anyone trying to make a run at it has to perfect multiple long-established experiences (phone, camera, Internet, gaming, social media, messaging, and on..). They also have to start with a baseline of core apps – Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Angry Birds, Amazon, etc.

    I’ve attempted to switch to Android multiple times and keep bumping into the same challenges – lackluster media experience, and poor battery life. Email integration (Exchange) has thwarted me time and again while the overall lack of polish and “quality control” for third-party apps has made for a clunky if not hopeful-for-updates experience.

    I carry a Lumia 800 and love it, I wax poetically about its simplicity and sexiness – but I still carry an iPhone 4S as well. Any time I want to dive more than 1 or 2 levels deep (map +address +address = directions) I find myself reaching for my iPhone.

    Your friend Erin does bring up an interesting thought and considering Dad’s habits I come to the conclusion – how can you satisfy everybody? You don’t even try. That was the arrogance of Steve Jobs, he created simple, intuitive, elegant products and flipped the middle finger, daring anyone to do better. So far, no one has been able to and like yourself I imagine many come to the same conclusion – the iAnything might not be perfect but its a helluva lot better than a substandard iClone.

    1. There were several reasons, but yeah; the fact that my primary reason for taking the phone back was the audiobook issue is pretty funny.

      I think there will probably be a time in the future when Windows Phone is more than a legitimate competitor, but it’s not ready. Unfortunately, the reality is that iOS is likely to always be a few steps ahead of the competition (at least in the minds of the masses,) ensuring its continued dominance regardless of the quality of the competition’s software. There’s just so much more public/3rd party support for iOS that it remains a superior choice for “appy-ness”.

      I guess it comes down to just that, like you said. The iAnything is what I want to be using, so there’s no real reason to adopt the iClone.

      Thanks for reading!

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