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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Mobile Frustrations

Nokia N91Yesterday Nokia unveiled its new N Series phones, with some interesting camera and music-playing features but rather chunky design. I’m not convinced they’ve fully learnt from the failed experiments of recent years (artificially-restrictive feature sets; some daft industrial design; an ill-conceived games console), and right now I’m more interested in getting a Sony Ericsson S700i than anything Nokia has available.

The N91, like the Motorola ‘iTunes phone’, is unlikely to get an overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception (no pun intended) from the mobile operators unless they somehow get a piece of the music-buying action. That stifling influence is one reason why the ‘mobile internet’ hasn’t fulfilled its potential. WAP/WML was a con, consisting of unnecessary technologies (HTML and HTTP were perfectly adequate for the job) invented purely to be wrapped up in patents. Combined with poor software and measures to discourage browsing (some phones have been designed to make it hard to enter a URL rather than use the network’s portal), this dampened enthusiasm amongst developers and users. I remember how disappointed I was back in 2000.

The whole area of mobile technology is an exciting one (particularly with XHTML and Flash gradually moving in), but as a developer and content creator it’s also frustrating. Why work on mobile-specific applications/content that might need tricky deals with mobile operators to succeed when the ‘standard’ web offers fewer development hassles and an open market? If every ISP had exercised tight control over access and hardware in the early days of the web it would never have flourished the way it has.


The upcoming 8800 looks nicer than most:,,73…

— morcs, 3rd May, 8:43am

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