Reflections of My Friends

While attending the Uplinq Conference this past week, a few friends of mine – Ricky Cadden and RIta El Khoury – announced that they would be shutting down the popular Symbian Guru website. There’s almost no reason for me to add to the chatter that has happened around the web about Ricky and RIta’s decision – I support it, and in their position – I would probably do the same. It did cause me to pause and think.

It wasn’t just that announcement, but a conversation with another mobile writer – Ewan from Mobile Industry Review and I had a conversation on the last night of Uplinq which had me assess a lot about what I do with mobile, and how I parlay that into value for those folks that attend to my dealings with MMM. If you will, why would I have a device that was the breaking point for another writer, especially in light of the shape of the current mobile environment?

For me, there is contentment – and a good bit of clarity. The Nokia N97 is definitely not the best smartphone available today. Depending on your opinion of Symbian, its probably not the best Symbian device either. However, for me and how I go about living mobile, it checks more boxes than most. Some of these boxes have changed over the years – and many more need to probably change a bit more. But, I am certain of many things in mobile, and device and platform choice is never something that I do lightly. I pick what works for me, and learn the rest and then become the fan of functionality, ability, and imagination, not of platforms or specific devices.

And yet I do live with a device that can be a bit too much to think about. Before I left for Uplinq, I had to do a hard reset because the N97 became inoperable. Yes, the day before leaving I was awake working on a device that had a corrupted backup. This hurt, and in reading Ricky’s post renailed home that the edge of what we do with mobile is really an edge. One can only play so long there before needing some stability, or at least the appearnace of not falling over the trailing edge because of unmet expectations.

Is there innovation happening in other platforms with mobile? Sure there is. For example, with the iPhone, we see an ecosystem executed with very nice precision, if not some healthy measure of slight-of-hand. With Android, we see this pace of development that looks more like iterative application development, not platform and ecosystem development. Its to the point that there really has been a better device announced each month of this current calendar year, and that doesn’t seem to want to slow down one bit. There’s RIM and its BlackBerry devices pushing the idea of enterprise mobility into the consumer space with devices and a platform that just works, and has just enough style that – like Merc – is good enough to play on the weekend with. And there’s the absolute innovative user expereince offered by Palm/HP’s webOS which still makes me pine for a real upgrade from my Treo, while seeing connectivity as something I willingly participate in, not something forced towards implementation.

There’s something that each of these platforms, each of the mobile experiences and tools that seems to offer just a bit more to each person as we need. And given our faith in how we want to live, we do best to move towards those mobile environments that work best for us – even at the cost of what enabled us to live for so long.

Some years ago, one of the hardest articles for Brighthand that I had to write was the one where I announced that I would be leaving the Palm platform and my Treo for the Symbian platform and Nokia’s devices. I did it (1) because the platform was at its announced dead end, and (2) my mobile needs started to require more than what the platform required. It took me months to getting to the point of even admitting that I needed to move on, let alone the days it too to write that post. It was hard to leave something that literally paid many bills and opened several doors for me. And yet, I moved on, and grew in ways that I could not have imagined. I don’t regret moving on, nor am I without pining for those simpler days.

Yes, sometimes it is right to just go with your heart when it comes to this mobile thing. A lot of action is happening here. But when our heart gives out, and we need something a bit more life-giving to stand on, its ok to move one – as long as we carry with us the lessons of the past, and the inertia that started us going in the first place.

Ricky and Rita, I look forward to your new adventures in mobile. As for responding to Ewan, well, I’m writing this on that N97 and wondering when Android and Apple will catch up with this functionaliy given their pace of innovation. Because when its all said and done, we can know about all of these platforms, but what is in our pocket is what we have to be most convinced about that it will work for us. Cheers.

2 thoughts on “Reflections of My Friends

  1. As usual, an excellent, thought-provoking piece. I most certainly gave up quite a bit of functionality when moving from the N97 to the Nexus One – decent camera, hardware QWERTY, gobs of storage, among others. However, what I gained, thus far, has been speed, stability, increased support, and a bit lighter load (let’s face it, the N97 is not featherweight by any stretch of the imagination).

    It’s the different things that each is able to sacrifice. I sacrificed with the N97 as my primary for too long – you read the post, lol, so you know.

  2. It is unfortunate that there is always the idea of sacrificing something with mobile platforms. We have both talked about on various occasions how all the pieces are there, its just not built and executed yet. Maybe some company will be willing to swing for the fences and put innovation back at the front of how we live and see these platforms and technologies.

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