The BBC recently aired a couple of technology focused documentaries, one called Life and Death of a Mobile Phone and the other Upgrade Me.
They’re available to watch/download on the BBC iPlayer (Sorry, UK residents only – er, unless you know how…)
I always find it interesting to see technology related programmes designed for the mainstream.
Life and Death of a Mobile Phone
This first 30 minute doc shows how mobile phones have become an utter necessity to modern day lifestyles – we live in a world where we are compelled to always be connected. You’ll see a brief history of handsets – some brick carphones progressing to the pocketable variety, and people’s mobile phone habits.
You’ll also see where mobile phones go when they’re no longer wanted: Some are recycled and resold, others are broken apart and spare parts taken, metals extracted. With 500 tonnes of mobile phones, one particular plant extracted 150kg of gold.
If you’re reading this, most likely you’re obsessed with technology. You love gadgets, always seeking to get the latest one, even though what you’ve already got might already still be pretty functional. Cameras, TVs, Computers, MP3 players, and of course, mobile phones.
Are you upgrading out of ‘need’? Or is it something psychological – a status symbol, or perhaps, as mentioned, you just want the newest, shiniest gadget?
The content of this video is what I expected the first video “Life and Death of a Mobile Phone” to be about. How with the upgrade culture, we’re constantly upgrading our phones and disposing older ones.
“Upgrade Me” shows the gadget culture to constantly upgrade to the latest and greatest. It’s interesting to see that the Apple’s iPod and iPhone are seen as the landmark devices that people covet. When Simon Armitage visits a school - the most desirable, ultimate gadget the children mention is iPhone. It’s nice that people are opening up to the world of Smartphone and convergence devices, but it’s a bit disheartening as a Nokia Geek that Nokia isn’t getting a mention.
Frankly though, I can understand it – except for pre-iPhone era, Nokia have still got to put a device out there with the intrinsic desirability factor of the iPhone. It’s not so much that the iPhone is particularly better than another phone, it’s just THE device of the moment. Like how a lot of (non tech) people confuse all MP3 players as iPods, people are associating high end only with iPhone. With the great advertising hype and inevitable word of mouth, Apple have TAUGHT people, like with the iPod, exactly what to desire instead of just “listening to the market and following what consumers seem to want…*cough*Nokia*”. Apple don’t play things safe and follow trends, they take risks and set new ones. (Though when they do “copy” no one really bats an eyelid)
I really wish that Nokia will push the boat out in 2010 to give us something truly wow-worthy. The N900 is the closest we’re gonna get so far, and it’s pretty good. But from Nokia, I want to see that device where (in addition to the internet/messaging/possibly gaming/touch prowess of the N900) I can leave my point and shoot camera and video cam behind by giving us the imaging performance that could rival dedicated counterparts. Nokia are already there with bringing the best Mobile Web experience, possibly even with gaming on Maemo 5. It’s all about just bringing it all together, in that one device.
Then there’s the trouble of shrinking all that, and perhaps like Apple, keep some sort of ICONIC design/appearance/NAME to maintain that recognizability even with future physical updates of that device.
Samsung also get a big mention. Simon takes a trip to Samsung HQ in South Korea. Apparently, the key to Samsung’s success is they’re always striving to bring new technology. I remember the days when samsung phones were purely style over substance, with any ground breaking phone looking extremely hideous (7MP camera phones with opical zoom *yuck*!). They were quite laughable. Now, Samsung is constantly punching the pistons to the max, delivering the very best in convergence hardware (e.g. i8910, W880/Pixon 12). Samsung of course, aren’t just phone manufacturers, they make practically every type of consumer electronic device. Still though, their “Future House” looks kinda stupid to me. Design wise, they’re nice, but they’re not at all futuristic, not by today’s standards anyway.
Towards the end of the video is most interesting – with nanotech/biotech, we may soon be able to upgrade ourselves, restore hearing/sight, monitor internal physiology and something I’ve always thought the inevitable, the physical integration of “mobile phone” with the human body.