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Hello, everyone! As summer is getting closer my capacities to focus on work are fading. But I soldier on and instead of a nice park stroll I try to sort out the news. This video below illustrates my feelings at work.

What I want to make the highlight of this article is how some people turn their heads into warehouses of stereotypes and misconceptions.


  1. How Things Can Make You Better
  2. Nokia World and the Official Death of Symbian

How Things Can Make You Better

I grew up in the USSR where everyone was equal. When sneakers became a hit in America, blue Adidas sneakers became available in the USSR soon. They were purchased from the US because the Soviet light industry was not yet ready to produce them. They first went on sale in the Soviet Union in 1979 right before the Moscow Olympics. I even heard rumors that the military was going to provide them for the Afghanistan corps. In the 90s I visited a closed Soviet factory and saw the military footwear prototypes based on those Adidas sneakers that never made it into serial production.

Sneakers were very rare and expensive in the USSR and it was really hard to get a pair. My very first sneakers, a pair of Ecco training shoes, were a gift from my uncle who bought them in Copenhagen. I saw them as great sports shoes not an object of fashion. But the first time I wore them to a gym class a classmate of mine told me You think you are now better than others?. I ignored him but still remember the incident. That phrase of a Soviet school student I think perfectly describes the world adults live in. Things like clothes and mobile phones serve the role of social IDs.

What is your social circle? What watch do you wear? Where do you spend your holidays? Answers to these questions will quite precisely determine your social status. It is only natural that mobile phone manufacturers are trying to satisfy the diversity of the demand and make products to any taste and wallet. But just as in car industry there is not much technical diversity in products. It is about the price, the brand and the ideology. If your are choosing a new phone then you are choosing between iPhone and Android. I don't mean any disrespect to other platforms but their sales are insignificant at the moment.

Any market has different tiers and just as the society does. Luxury products tend to make their owners feel special and selected few. Consumer electronics also offers a variety of vanity feelings. Buying the most advanced PC makes people feel smarter than others while buying a prosumer camera makes its owner feel a true artist. Markets use stereotypes because people cherish them.

Remember the classic Apple ad campaign 'Think Different'? It was Apple's 1997 response to IBM's 'Think' campaign that used images of outstanding thinkers of different times whom IBM offered the viewer to identify himself with.

What is the main idea of this ad? While IBM were promoting PCs as tools for those who thinks Apple went a bit further and said think different like the best minds in history did. In both cases manufacturers were only promoting their products. IBM said that the PC is necessary for any modern person while Apple embellished the same message with a bunch of geniuses.

However, the idea that computers can make you think is somewhat true. To use a PC means mastering a whole lot of skills. But can a computer actually make you smarter? Does possessing a PC make you more intelligent or enhances your brain activity?

Take a minute to think about it. Also, does the brand of your computer matter in making you smarter? If a Noble prize winner used an iMac to write put his research down could possessing the same PC make you similar to him? Naturally not.

Now I want to divert from the electronics and give a different example of my idea. Richard Feynman in his 'You Are Surely Joking, Mr. Feynman!' covers the subject of the cargo cult in the chapter 'Cargo Cult Science'. These cults appeared in the Oceanic island cultures. Tribal peoples who never had never seen planes before WWII developed these primitive beliefs after observing planes deliver precious 'cargo'. When the war was over they began building landing strips and wooden radio towers, they even imitated the behavior of the American military. These rituals were supposed to bring them more 'cargo'. In the next fifty years these cults disappeared apparently because the rituals were to no avail.

The consumer electronics market has seen its own cargo cults and Apple has been the most successful manufacturer in creating such cults. While islanders were building wooden replicas of planes in the hope that they would bring them cargo, the modern consumer of mobile phones and computers considers the 'aura' of the device, its image, the sort of people that use it. The old 'videri quam esse' principle. In some countries like Russia for example this consumer culture is very strong but I have seen this principle work all around the world. This 'electronic cargo cult' suggests the consumer that the device he is using is making him smarter and better.

Don't believe me? Check out the comments under my article on Instagram where I said that it is not the gadgets or software tricks that make an artist but only a good taste. And a man with a good taste can create masterpieces without the latest tech. The technology surely widens artistic horizons but it cannot make anyone into an artist. When a man buys an expensive camera he for some reasons begins to fancy himself a big talent. Lots of people nowadays post tons of high quality photos that lack any idea at all. They are substituting notions just like some of the real artist who only give an idea without a proper form while art requires harmony.

Instagram: Social Service or The Photo Manual

In the heads of people who commented the articles in such a fashion an excellent camera automatically translates into high quality photos. I can even go as far as to claim that owners of particular brands genuinely believe there is a direct connection between the brand they have and intelligence. Moreover, some sports cars drivers erroneously think they drive well. They don't buy a sports car to tell everyone they are mediocre drivers. Ads promise that by driving their model you will feel as a F1 driver. At the same time professional skills can't be bought as they require hours of preparation, good tracks and experienced trainers who can teach you well and fast how to drive in different conditions. Even if you buy the best and most advanced car you will not drive as a professional car racer. Don't trust the ads as they sell only dreams. Similarly, when buying an Apple computer in late 1990s you did not become similar to heroes from the Think Different advertisement.

People in the advertising are too busy creating shadows for people to chase, but they have nothing to do with real life. It's a pity when consumers buy it and get frustrated when promises turn to be false. One more recent example can clarify the matter. In the promotion of Skechers Shape-Ups we were promised that anyone can lose weight and strengthen the leg muscles by just wearing the sneakers.

In the May of 2012 the company was fined $40 million for the deliberate deception of customers.

Can you call the buyers of these shoes silly? I think the answer is negative and they are just the product of our times. We are prepared to be promised the Moon and we often don't think reasonable. That is why we have photographers with good cameras for whom megapixels and picture resolution equal artistic capabilities. These stereotypes are created by advertisers, who want us to believe that if we buy a particular gadget we will be smarter and happier.

A computer can be bought within five minutes, while education takes months and years. It is much easier to buy a gadget, which turns you into another person. Your smart copy should theoretically boost your reputation in eyes of others, but this does not happen. It is a good idea to learn how to employ smart devices.

You should buy devices to suit your lifestyle and not expect to become a singer or composer overnight. A similar swindle is Songify, where your text is turned into a song even if you cannot sing. Don't try to learn, the app will do it for you! In future such apps will become more and more popular and the quality will be better still. The mass culture spreads everything, which opposes hard work and education. People will not buy what is difficult and takes time. The problem is that you can improve only if you are at the very bottom and then you will have to work hard anyway if what you need is a genuine success in a particular field.

Another example comes from the social life. Many people from the former Soviet Union moved to Germany and in their first decade enjoyed generous welfare payments, which allowed for comfortable, albeit not luxurious living. Those who started working had to pay high taxes and many decided to stay on welfare and exploited the system. What seemed to be a perfect idea, changed suddenly when the welfare payment were severely cut. After several lost years people had to start working and follow the hard way of their more active countrymen. I think the story we are witnessing is a similar one. Some learn about the new technology, while others buy gadgets, which should simplify their life today and require no thinking. We are all different, but I side with those who try to learn.

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Nokia World and the Official Death of Symbian

Nokia decided to move Nokia World from September 25-26 to September 5-6, because the company is planning to unveil first products on Windows Phone 8 at the time. The choice of venue in the home city of Helsinki is not a coincidence too. It is an attempt to show that the company retains its Finnish core, which is not necessarily the case. The event will be open only to those, who are invited and the list for this Nokia World will be more limited. Nokia is switching from grand events to smaller ones. On one hand it generates more media activity, while at the same time there will be not many serious announcements in the time ahead to impress the public.

Another development was expected and now we know that Symbian will not be supported until 2016 despite all earlier promises. The news from our website runs as follows: According to Mathias Fiorin, Product Marketing Manager for Nokia South Europe the company decided not to develop the latest Symbian version called Nokia Carla. The news was announced to the representatives of an Italian fan website Nokialino. Nokia Carla will now be called Feature Pack 1. The name change is important as both Feature Pack 1 and 2 will not bring considerable changes to the OS. Frankly speaking Nokia Belle is the last official update of Symbian. There will be no support of HD screens and dual core processors for the OS.

I am not surprised at all. Nokia is selling off all assets attractive for buyers. In mid-April was made a decision not to have holograms on batteries to save related expenses. Before the company already agreed not to verify the authenticity of batteries and ditched logos on memory cards, which is rather cheap, but Nokia found it a surplus to requirements. In other words the destruction of the once great company is moving fast in accordance with some unknown, but effective plan. It has no products attractive to consumers.

Additional reading:

Have a nice week!

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Spillikins 170. What Happened to Mobile Phone Design?

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Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 30 May 2012

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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