Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Android – I have no Desire for thee

A signal a signal my kingdom for a signalFurther to NickM’s post on his Android woes (of the current technology telecommunications variety rather than the future technology anthropomorphic electronic servant one), I was just going to post a comment, but it turned into a bit of a middle-aged-bloke-techno-rant.

Android vs Androids

However, since that is a perfectly valid perspective with a reasonable market share in the blogosphere, I thought I would upgrade it to a full-on blog post. I mean what the hell, it’s only electrons being shoved about isn’t it? – it’s not like they’ve got anything better to do – like holding together the structure of the universe…

So first-things-first, Sorry Nick, but I can’t help you with your problem, but it’s not because I don’t understand either the technology or your perspective (not that my knowledge of either necessarily helps your current predicament), because I have played a very, very minor role in developing the technology that you are currently afflicted with.

In between building hoppers for surface-to-air missile systems that couldn’t hit a barn door if they were holding the handle, I also worked on some of the 2G and 3G mobile phone technology at Marconi Electronic Systems as part of their military communications portfolio. I also sold part of a company based upon WAP and SMS-based message notification, so I’m not exactly clueless or even old-fashioned as far as both analogue and digital phone technology goes.

The problem is that the Motorola RAZRi you are holding in your hands is not really a mobile phone in the accepted sense. You might think it is, it might even be advertised as a mobile phone, but it fundamentally isn’t. What you are coveting in your palm is a piece of “Convergent Digital Technology

It is certainly the way of the future, along with James Tiberius Kirk , his toupée and the Tribbles, but it ain’t a part of the here-and-now.

Now don’t get be wrong, in actual fact it is a wonderful example of technological development, but it has been developed without any fundamental understanding of where it, or indeed the whole field of mobile communications is actually going.

Put simply, Nick’s Motorola RAZRi is about as close to a mobile phone as a Leopard 2A7+ tank is to the Trojan Horse.

One of these is not a Trojan horse

Now I may well be a cynical old sod, harking back to a technological antediluvian era which never really existed, but I tried out some of the 2nd generation Android technology with my last corporate mobile phone (an HTC Desire), back in 2011 and although it was very flashy in everything else, e-mail, contacts, storing data, mobile internet, games consoles, emulators, blah, blah, blah – it was fundamentally a shit mobile phone.

Half the time the call would either never pick up when I pressed “Accept” or if it did pick-up I couldn’t hear what the other party was saying anyway, or I got disconnected or it ran out of power or it just plain froze up on me or etc, etc, etc. You get the picture (unless its by MMS)

Now, I’m sure the technology and the reliability have moved on since 2011, but I was so fucked off with my initial experience of Android (and I expect iPhone’s are no better), that I decided there-and-then that my next phone would be a phone, not one of these fancy multimedia MTC gadgets, but just a phone – i.e. a 10-number keypad and two buttons, one to dial and one to hangup.

Since then I’ve been happy as Larry with a cheap, SIM-only, no contract, dual-SIM (Malaysian and European), battery-life-of-a-week Nokia 108 that I picked up in Penang for a groat (well 140 RM to be honest, but never-the-less cheap enough for me). It has a camera I’ve never used  and about the only accessory I have used on it is the Alarm Clock.

It works perfectly in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Europe and I’ve never (to my knowledge) lost a call or misheard an address.

Maybe the technology has moved on since my failed experience in 2011, but I as a customer, certainly have. When Motorola invent a working teleportation device, let me know – but someone else can be the guinea pig – after all, I’ve read Stephen King’s “The Jaunt”.


  1. NickM says:

    Well fuck that! I paid GBP150 for a fucking pocket computer with like everything. Bastards!

  2. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    Doesn’t the tank have a horrible shot trap between the turret and the body ?

  3. NickM says:

    Put me in a Leopard anyday. Except a Merkava would be better but frankly why isn’t a tank crewed by two with both in the hull and a remote-control turret is beyond me.

  4. John Galt says:

    Well fuck that! I paid GBP150 for a fucking pocket computer with like everything. Bastards!

    Did the shop you bought it from have big windows? …because they certainly saw you coming :-)

    £150 is a lot of cash to cough for a phone, although I must admit that for years I was supplied with a Blackberry and a mobile phone (the HTC Desire being one of them) by the American company that I used to work for, so I was a bit spoilt.

    No way I’d pay that much of my own hard-earned wonga for one.

  5. paid GBP150 for a fucking pocket computer with like everything.

    I paid rather more than that for a pocket computer with everything, although mine was bought outright rather than on a carrier contract. Luckily, a pocket computer is exactly what I want, and have wanted since the 1980s. I’ve never understood those who want a pocket telephone; telephones (in my experience) are a difficult way to get hold of people and a way for direct marketers to harass me at very inconvenient times. Luckily “quiet hours” plus the call blocking and filtering options provided by Cyanogenmod can keep these nuisances at bay, so I need hardly know that this device is capable of calls except on those occasions when I need to call the RAC, or whatever.

    Of course, for those who do want only to make phone calls, then the market has come up with what you may want. ;-)

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    “£150 is a lot of cash to cough for a phone”

    You’re just after saying it isn’t a phone, John. :)

    I’m with Nick on this. Well, actually, I kind of agree with both of you. My current Android device is the worst phone, qua phone, I’ve ever had. It’s totally the wrong shape, and touchscreens are a pain in the arse when you’re on one of those automated systems where you to press 1 for option 3, 2 for option 1, and # to start again. But everything else it does more than makes up for that. Truth is, I hardly use it as a phone anyway.

    John’s phone’s pretty expensive for what it is, knirirr. Last time I topped up mine, EE gave me a little Alcatel job for free. It’s actually very good. If I wasn’t so wedded to Android for satnav, keeping appointments, converting measurements and currencies, and all the myriad other things, I could totally use it. It’s better than the Nokia I paid £80 for ten years ago. Yay capitalism!

  7. John Galt says:

    I’ve actually got an even cheaper one, a Nokia C01 which is basically a brick, not even a camera to speak of. I got that at Tesco in Stevenage for about £10 two years ago. It did the job, but I wanted a dual SIM so I didn’t have to carry around 2-phones, 1 Malaysian and 1 European.

    Anyway, the price of any item is what someone is prepared to offer it for and someone else is prepared to pay for it. The girl at the mobile phone shop in Midland Mall, Penang offered the Nokia 108 for 140 MYR and I accepted and I’m happy with it, which is all that matters. I have no buyers remorse.

  8. Longrider says:

    I have a Motorola RAZR. Had it for a couple of years now. Works fine. Makes calls, receives calls and I can do my banking when away from home. No problems, no complaints. Does what it says on the box.

  9. Mr Ed says:

    My first mobile was a Motorola, utterly unworkable, entered Nokialand via Ericcson, utterly delightfully easy and logical to use, and reliable. Veered off to a Sharp clamshell, not so good. Work got me an HTC, told my boss I was tempted to shove it up a nearby sheep’s arse, then got to iPhone, which rarely makes good calls but a field better than HTC. I then bought myself a new personal Nokia after a waterproof turned out not to be, to my horror Nokia are turning their £30 phones into lighter 1998 Motorolas, two examples of infinite crapness:

    1. Pull up contacts, and it wont show you the number of the contact so you can’t call on a landline.
    2. Take a pic, try to picture message it, pic too large for message to be sent, no way to shrink picture.

    The urge to address the incorporation by Nokia of these features in their phones with a hammer must be ignored.

  10. Roue le Jour says:

    Mr. Ed, I used to be a third party developer for Nokia, and yes, us developers would frequently observe that Nokia designers obviously don’t use their own products, or they would notice the whole “doesn’t work” thing. One of my pet peeves was standard apps not properly skinned which made life difficult for theme designers. The contact manager was always rubbish. Designed by a person who’s entire contact database was “Mum”, presumably. I did a better version and so did others, all ancent history now.

    Nokia gave me a free C7 a few years ago. I gave it to the missus.

  11. Mr Ed says:

    Roue, we see now why Nokia is going back to wood pulp, hubris as part of the cycle of business life and death. A shame, as they could previously be recommended to elderly relatives for their ease of use and reliability.

    For all his faults, at least Steve Jobs generally sought to make his products work.,26268/

  12. John Galt says:

    I always liked the Nokia’s, from the first brick-phones to today, my Nokia 108.

    What I like about them is their reliability and their battery life. However, since I always by the phones with the lowest capability and functionality available, this is probably a reason why. The only touchscreen phone I ever owned was the HTC Desire and it was shit as a phone.

  13. NickM says:

    Mr Ed,
    I disagree. Jobs was brilliant yet awkward. Just look at the position of the cursor keys on a Mac Classic. No inverted “T” for Jobs – it didn’t look “neat”. Indeed with the first Macs he didn’t want cursor keys at all. Look, a MacBook is about the only lappy I would even consider without trackpoint but I’d buy the Lenovo. Apple make good kit but they do not uniquely make good kit. And lordy do you pay for it…

    I guess you have read the letter (it was made public I think) Bill Gates wrote to Steve Jobs on his deathbed. It was very generous. I can’t imagine my life without either.

  14. Mr Ed says:

    Yes, Nick, I did qualify my comment with ‘generally’, Mr Jobs was overly obsessive about keyboards and fonts, why not have a ‘delete’ key? Why have all these f***ing fonts to track through just because someone did calligraphy whilst sponging off fellow students? Still, Mr Jobs strikes me as a real-life Randian hero in his ‘getting things done’ approach.

  15. NickM says:

    Jobs was a hero. I said nowt other but he was also an awkward sod. Genius tends to be awkward. Just look at Charles Babbage. A century ahead of his time but a founder member of the awkward squad. Or Maxwell. You seen his original equations? It took Oliver Heaviside and Josiah Willard Gibbs to make sense of it all.

  16. NickM says:

    Oh, and Oliver Heaviside was several sheets to the wind and Gibbs had a Grand Cannonical Ensemble which my arts educated wife seems to think is a form of monkey orchestra. It is not. Now the partition function is… Why bother?

  17. MrsNick says:


Leave a Reply