Feedback

Mobile opinion

Biz Takeouts


Tune into Biz Takeouts Radio Show on 2oceansvibe Radio today at 9am with show host Warren Harding (@bizWazza). In this week's show he speaks to Louna Lohann, General Manager of Spree (@spreecoza ) and Lauren Fleiser about Trutrepreneur

Listen to the live stream in:

Subscribe to industry newsletters

Press offices

Enquire about a press office
Bizcommunity has over 400 industry contributors and we always welcome further contributions and contributors.
Advertise with us
Advertise & RatesMy Account
Company press officeList company
Recruitment packagesSubmit job ad
Download ratecard
Mobile opinion

Bland cellphones make a brick look interesting

Walk into a mobile retailer today and you'll be greeted by a wall of phones, many of them black, almost all of them drab slabs of plastic with large touch screens.
Nokia's headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Microsoft recently concluded its acquisition of the Finnish company’s devices and services business. (Image: Russavia, via Wikimedia Commons)
Nokia's headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Microsoft recently concluded its acquisition of the Finnish company’s devices and services business. (Image: Russavia, via Wikimedia Commons)
Before Steve Jobs got onto a stage in San Francisco seven years ago and unveiled Apple's first iPhone, cellphones came in all sorts of nifty shapes. There were candy bars, sliders, flip phones and swivel phones -- or a combination of some or all of these styles. The choice of funky designs was almost endless.

Today, it's as if Henry Ford has taken charge of cellphone development: you can have any phone you want, as long as it's rectangular and has a big touch screen. Heck, most modern smartphones are black, too. Ford would be pleased.

Phones, employees, to be axed

Last week, the world moved even closer to this homogeny in cellphone design when Microsoft announced - somewhat controversially - that it was going to kill off Nokia's feature-phone business in the next 18 months.

Microsoft recently concluded its acquisition of the Finnish company's devices and services business and promptly announced plans to axe as many as half of the cellphone pioneer's employees. It also intends terminating the popular Asha range of near-smartphones and its lower-end feature phones, which remain hot sellers in price-sensitive emerging markets such as South Africa.

Microsoft clearly doesn't want to be distracted by these legacy handsets as it redoubles its efforts to build its struggling Windows Phone business into a strong alternative to Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

Duncan McLeod. (Image extracted from TechCentral.co.za)
Duncan McLeod. (Image extracted from TechCentral.co.za)
The software maker stumbled badly in the early days of smartphones and is desperately trying to make up lost ground. It intends pushing Windows Phone more aggressively down the price curve, getting smartphones into the hands of people who until now have only been able to afford phones with basic features.

Emerging markets across Africa, South America, and Asia are the next big growth area for the major smartphone players, including Microsoft.

It makes sense, but...

Many analysts agree that the decision to kill off Nokia's feature phone business makes sense for Microsoft, but anyone who owned a Nokia handset in the 1990s and 2000s no doubt still has great memories of the brand. I was particularly enamoured of the keyboard-powered E71, an early smartphone.

What was your favourite classic Nokia? Who can forget the battery life that went on for days and days, or the fact that the phones didn't disintegrate when dropped? They were virtually indestructible compared with today's smartphones, which have to be housed in protective cases to shield their screens.

Meet the Brick

I was intrigued last week, then, to notice a device in a popular online store that specialises in smartphones. In among the sea of touchscreen slabs on the store's bestsellers page was a device called The Brick, made by a company called Binatone. The blurb for The Brick reads: "Touch screens, fingerprint scanners, filters, apps. Hasn't it all gotten [sic] a little superfluous? Whatever happened to the good old days, when you used your mobile to make or receive a call? The Brick isn't trying to be everything to everyone. It's a sturdy handset with an iconic style, harkening [sic] warm memories of the early 1990s."

The Brick. (Image extracted from the The Brick website)
The Brick. (Image extracted from the The Brick website)
To be sure, the phone, which costs less than R700, doesn't look modern. Indeed, it will probably turn heads for all the wrong reasons: it's chunky in the hand, has a tiny screen (compared with modern smartphones) and has a big, ugly aerial extending from the top. It has the basics, though, such as an FM radio and SMS. And the battery will last for weeks before complaining that it needs recharging.

The Brick caters to those who don't want or need to access the internet on the go. It won't give you your Facebook or Instagram fix, and it won't buzz away in your pocket all day directing your life.

But not everyone wants a phone that does those things.

As Nokia's feature phones are put out to pasture, it's nice to know there are still cellphone manufacturers dedicated to keeping it simple. Now, if only we could get the big smartphone makers to be more creative in their designs, to borrow a little flair, perhaps, from decades past.

Source: Business Times, via I-Net Bridge


SOURCE

I-Net Bridge
For more than two decades, I-Net Bridge has been one of South Africa’s preferred electronic providers of innovative solutions, data of the highest calibre, reliable platforms and excellent supporting systems. Our products include workstations, web applications and data feeds packaged with in-depth news and powerful analytical tools empowering clients to make meaningful decisions.

We pride ourselves on our wide variety of in-house skills, encompassing multiple platforms and applications. These skills enable us to not only function as a first class facility, but also design, implement and support all our client needs at a level that confirms I-Net Bridge a leader in its field.
Go to: http://www.inet.co.za
    
 

About the author

Duncan McLeod edits www.TechCentral.co.za. Find him on Twitter @mcleodd
Richard Gee
Richard Gee
I agree. Modern phones are boring and bland
Posted on 5 Aug 2014 16:00
Lehlohonolo Ramphalile
I still love my 8310i Nokia.
It's got the best organisational system.
Posted on 5 Aug 2014 20:03
Pio Combrink
Pio Combrink
Nokia N90 and N95, best i've ever had. Loved the keyboard! Now have a Lumia 6. Just not the same.
Posted on 6 Aug 2014 10:42
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.

News