10 things that have really puzzled me

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If you've ever looked at an aspect of the Symbian or smartphone world and asked 'Why?', then you know exactly how I sometimes feel. This being Friday, here are some of my puzzlers for weekend pontification....
  1. Why?Why do companies like Symbian (they're not alone in this, you know) bother issuing time-limited DRM-like certificates for software when they're so trivial to get around? You'll recognise this if you've ever tried installing an older item of freeware or a theme. You get the message 'Certificate expired' and you sigh, pop into 'Clock' and set the year back one notch and then try installation again, successfully, before putting the year back right again. What purpose does the expiry of certificates then serve? Beats me.
  2. Why did it take Nokia and Sony Ericsson SO long to realise that computers like RAM and that they were shipping device after device in generation after generation with far too little of the stuff. From Nokia 6630 to Sony Ericsson P800 through to the Nokia N95 and Sony Ericsson P990, RAM shortages have been an utter CURSE in the Symbian OS world. A monkey with half a brain could have figured out the bottleneck sooner, I'd have thought.
  3. Why are Sony Ericsson so appalling at marketing their smartphones? They have a developer network second to none and here at AAS we're always receiving press releases about this and that developer initiative. But who cares about developers and third party software if there are relatively few smartphones to run it on? Nokia and S60.com rightfully shout from the rooftops about every new device, what it can do and they keep on shouting. And hiring the likes of WOM World to help spread the word has helped enormously. But Sony Ericsson only seem to stick their head up above the parapet once a year and trying to get news from them is like getting blood out of a stone. And marketing? When was the last time you saw an advert for the pretty decent P1i?
  4. The Nokia N93i. Yes, the N93 wasn't perfect and I can see why they wanted to slim it down and make it prettier. But some of the design decisions - putting in focussing in video mode, a totally unique feature, and then ripping it out again before production made absolutely no sense. Yes, I and a few other bloggers complained about the motor noise, but we meant for this to be filtered out in software or reduced mechanically, not FOR THE ONLY REAL UNIQUE FEATURE TO BE REMOVED! Add in the terribly reflective main display that can't be read in sunlight, the UPWARDS-FACING microphones and the decision to can the original N93 (and - apparently - stop developing firmware for it) and you honestly and truly have to hope that whoever was product manager for the N93i is now serving the community more helpfully in some institution.
  5. Ah yes, interfaces. Why on earth are there four (and arguably five) totally different ways to launch some applications in the Nokia N95? Why are the tiny main control icons in UIQ 3 tucked away in a corner of the screen where they're almost impossible to reach with a fingernail? And how on earth did it take EVERYONE so long to realise that simply redesigning the S60 'menu' button icon as a 'Home' key (as in the E51) would (roughly) triple S60's accessibility for new users?
  6. And talking of interfaces, which illegal substance WAS the designer of the Nokia 3650's CIRCULAR keypad smoking? "Woo, round and round we go, I can see it now..." [hits 'Submit to production' button and falls over]
  7. Why does it take so long for an Nseries camera to start up? Lesser smartphone cameras start in a (fraction of a) second, as do dedicated digital cameras that share (or surpass) the same quality of lens. So why on earth does it take the Nokia N95 five seconds to get ready to snap a picture? In five seconds, my 8 year old has long since finished doing whatever it was that looked cute and moved into the next room to do something different, leaving me about to snap a picture of nothing at all...
  8. Why was it that, despite OPL being one of THE crown jewels in Psion's treasure store, an onboard language that enabled the creation of THOUSANDS of user-written applications, started my own career in the Symbian world, and created an entire device-recommending community, it was never given even a couple of official man hours by ANYONE at Symbian or Nokia or anyone else with money in the smartphone world. How come it's OK to spend 10 million dollars on an ad campaign but too risky to spend 10 thousand dollars on an intiative which could potentially do the same for a modern manufacturer as it did for Psion, only on a larger scale?
  9. How come Nokia, as the single biggest Symbian shareholder and licensee, never sponsor Symbian's London Smartphone Show?
  10. Why on earth did I title this piece '10 things' when I've only managed to come up with 9? Oh, hey, I made the 10 after all!

Steve Litchfield

PS. Actually, number 10 could have been my traditional pre-Smartphone Show rant about why Nokia ship a lot of devices with trial versions of multiple anti-virus suites, all designed to slow devices down and hog their RAM, when there is precisely zero chance of a Symbian OS 9 device contracting or being affected by malware in the first place. But then you've heard me on this well worn track many times before, so I decided not to mention it. Ah, I seem to have done so anyway....