Some smart phones are neither smart nor good phones

I have usually been an early and enthusiastic adopter of new technology. I liked the arrival of the mobile phone, thought the internet amazing and welcomed the sat nav. I automated business processes where this could take drudge work out and improve the quality of the product and the quality of work people were asked to do.

I don’t have the same enthusiasm for my so called smart phone. I’m not talking about a particular model or make. The faults of mine are likely to be faults of others.

My main need from a mobile phone is to be able to make and receive phone calls when on the move. I have good internet connections at home and in the office, with  a large screen computer, good keyboard for typing, and landline phones that work. I have no wish to use a small screen mobile with variable reception in these circumstances. I need my phone travelling by  car (hands free using when parked), walking or on public transport. I take an ipad for  computing at my destination or on a train  if travelling to a temporary location away from home and work.

The mobile phone has several disadvantages. Because it operates by means of a small screen if there is bright sunlight you cannot read it at all. Even not so bright daylight makes it difficult to read. Because you need to instruct it by touch it becomes finger printed, and  often your touch is taken as a different instruction from the one you intended.  Trying to type a message is difficult at speed because the letter pad is so small for any given letter. In addition, when the phone rings I need first to scroll the page, and then hit the receive bar on the second frame to appear. All this can take too long so the caller rings off. Quite often my touch does not register in time with the phone.  It means a lot of lost calls when out and about. It does not have a long battery life, so on a busy day you have to remember to take a recharger with you and plug it in somewhere.

It is not that reliable on a train and of course cuts out on the tube. Bluetooth links to the car do not always work, unlike the old mobiles which you plugged into the car system by cable which always worked.

It is true it can receive messages, offer me a moving map, provides a modest quality camera and doubtless other things I have not asked it to do. What I can’t accept is that is a smart phone. The truth is its a dumb phone,  a not very good one. I just lose more calls with it. The old  phones just required you to press one button to receive a call, and plugged into the car which also recharged them.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

64 Comments

  1. Leslie Singleton
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Couldn’t agree more–As soon as I tell people that I no longer carry any kind of phone people are jealous sick. My old thing (with lead in to cigar lighter, which I think keeps it charged) stays in the car for emergencies. I hardly know what an App is and don’t feel the lack. Easier for women to carry one in their handbags. And that’s before even thinking about the cost and poncing about with something “sophisticated” (whatever that means as Philip Howard used to say).

  2. Ian Russell
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Get one of those new Nokias!

  3. David Thompson
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I have exactly the same issues you describe. Their is a chance the old “classic” mobiles might be coming back.

    • libertarian
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      The old non smart phones have never gone away. You can buy one non contract for between £10 and £40

      They are basic phones make calls and send SMS

  4. David Cockburn
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    I am so relived to find someone else who doesn’t like smartphones. What is wrong with them is not the concept but the implementation, they do a lot of things, none of them very well.

  5. DaveM
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    As much as I dislike the mobile phone culture, I have to admire the technology – I’ve posted to your site from the middle of the desert and can access encrypted emails and files from the arctic.

    The phone’s pretty big but it’s pretty amazing, I have to say!

  6. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Think your observations/experiences are similar to mine. Smart in that they constantly seek money or you have to suffer in-App Ads. Its about social media which I don’t use on such a phone, head down staring into a hand…constantly?

    Think the older Nokia phone has been revived…that requires I change glasses though.

  7. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Smart phones:
    That’s the way it is.
    Most examples of progress are 2 steps forward 1 step back.

  8. Excalibur
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Join the club, JR. I spent years in radio engineering, but my so-called smart phone gives me nothing but grief, and barely controlled bouts of rage.

  9. alan jutson
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    But its not just smart phones John, its so called smart TV’s, camera’s, washing machines and so many other bits of equipment.

    Afraid its the boffin factor at work, motor cars are also now beginning to suffer from the same fate.

    Amazing that no one has yet developed a screen which is visible in sunlight, so many phones camera screens and in car displays simply cannot be read when the sun shines.

    Far too often the manual which tells you how the bloody things work has to be accessed from the internet, which when you have a small screen are impossible to read.

    Many other non electrical products now only have instructions available on the web, not exactly helpful when trying to install them.

    I find it strange that the government are making it an offence to use a hand held mobile (and I do agree they are a distraction) phone when driving a car, but the use of the built in, in car computer screen to tune the radio, to look at navigation/directions, change the heating, de-mister settings, and a whole host of other basic motoring functions where you have to scroll and read a screen are allowed.

    A friend of ours recently purchased an expensive British made car from the local dealer, and included in the purchase package was a two hour lesson on how to use the in car touch screen function !

    Modern technology is great when it works, but frustrating when it is simply not practical in use.

    The recent introduction of your captcha pictures to prove you are not a robot I would guess are almost impossible to read on a small screen.

    I sometimes have a problem to see them properly on my 27 inch desktop screen !

    • Edwardm
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      I strongly agree with you about car controls. The use of touch screens with menus are a serious distraction as they require more than a quick glimpse to operate. I find I’m unable to use such controls when driving – much to my inconvenience.
      This is a problem created by motor manufacturers by their design fads.
      I wish they would revert to quick-and-easy-to-use manual controls for basic functions.

  10. Mark B
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I am typing this from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

    On public transport transport travelling oop North. It uses predictive text, which is most helpful.

    I can monitor my journey using the inbuilt sat-nav. It even can give me an ETA on my arrival.

    Check my emails and so on.

    Funny thing on the way from home, I was thinking back in the UK day when the GPO use to supply the phones. You could only get what they gave you and even then you had to wait. Today thanks to deregulation and competition I have choice.

    Oh. And I can almost any number in the UK and talk as long as I like.

    • Anonymous
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Thanks to the GPO for all their research and cleverness in laying the foundations for this technology. In the 70s they didn’t have the technology to deliver the services we have today.

      • Sam Duncan
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Which foundations, exactly? Cellular technology was developed by Motorola in the US, and introduced to the UK by Racal (now Vodafone). The microprocessor was invented by Intel, and the architecture used in the majority of mobile phones today is the work of ARM, originally a joint-venture between Acorn, VLSI, and Apple. The operating systems of most smartphones, both Apple and Android, can trace their lineage back to Unix, a product of Bell Labs. The early work on capactive touch was done at the Royal Radar Establishment. GPS is a project of the United States Air Force. Predictive text entry has been worked on by many organisations. The GPO wasn’t one of them.

        It’s hard to determine what it brought to the party, really, apart from being the custodian for many years of a landline network established by private companies over a century ago. The packet-switched network that allows smartphones to be “smart” owes its origins to the American military research establishment ARPA, and was opened to the general public in the face of powerful opposition from traditional circuit-switched telephone people, not least the big European “PTT” monopolies.

        You could make a tenuous link to digital computers in the person of Tommy Flowers, the GPO engineer who built Colossus at Bletchley, but since that was (and, technically, still is) under the Official Secrets Act – few people even knew of its existence before the 1970s – it can hardly be said to be the foundation of anything much outside of GCHQ.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Predictive text is rather annoying, insted of a misspelt word you get a totally new one that often just confusesand wasts time. My friend Furgus becomes a Fungus and ERM becomes Erm!

      What would make far more sense is some rationalisation of the more absurd English spellings rather than wright, write, right, rite or G(h)ost or there, their. frend instead of friend perhaps.

      Then children could learn far more interesting things instead like science, maths, logic and how question, think rather than just learn & regurgitate.

      Then they could all see that socialism and ever bigger government is a disaster even/especialy for the poor and that climate alarmist is clearly a scam.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        It seems you can get a geography degree at Oxford, become leader of the (allegedly) Conservative party and even PM with grasping these basics.

      • hefner
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Good luck with rationalising the English spelling. The Germans worked on it for ten years (1996-2005), the French for 26 years (1990-2016)!
        If this ever happens in Britain, I guess these two examples might serve as some benchmarks to be beaten.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted March 6, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          Just let spelling evolve instead of the absurd this is right and that is wrong, this is top down socialism we want freedom and liberty.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    I see I am coming back into fashion. I still run an old Nokia with a key pad. Mine is for making/taking calls only, for emergencies and for rendezvousing. I admit, I wouldn’t mind a camera and that price comparisons would be easier when shopping. Overall I can’t be bothered upgrading as these things aren’t such a big problem. Bigger buttons are more of a priority as my near vision is going.

  12. Bert Young
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t have and don’t want a mobile phone and will not use my satnav if I can avoid it . On one occasion when driving to see a friend in Cardigan , my satnav directed me up a grass lined country lane that went on for several miles – apparently this had happened to several others !!. Maps are far better . I’ve driven all over Europe and the USA using maps and never got lost or finished up country lanes . As for mobile phones – well I’ll say no more .

  13. A.Sedgwick
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Agree absolutely, my mobile is small, flip top, key use, calendar reminder, small note facility, phonebook etc., no fancy mystifying apps, the security of which would concern me. Yet “smart” phones seem universally popular, they are ridiculously expensive, perhaps they should be regarded as luxury fashion accessories rather than being particularly useful.

  14. Lifelogic
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Indeed and one of the biggest problems is that having the colour screen and doing all these extra things mean that the battery has very limited life. I my case I now have to find my reading glasses before I can do anything with the phone. I kept using my old Nokia with car kit for many years after the blackberry and later smart phones came out. The Nokia had a week of battery, was very light & even went through the washing machine twice and still worked.

    New phones are build for (and perhaps by) children with small fingers! I prefer to use a laptop with a proper keyboard whenever I can, rather then mucking about on a tiny touch screen.

    The problem of missed called is made worse by the network providers as they switch the call to voice mail too quickly. This way they make more money as you have to pick up the voice mail then call back making three calls. You can sometime adjust the voice mail but never to long enough.

    The phones can also be mugging devices when abroad if you are not careful with controlling data usage.

    The biggest failure though is poor network coverage in the UK and dropped calls voice or data. The absurd way you can only use you local network. Rather than roaming to a strong signal as you can with an overseas phone used in the UK. We need cooperation between providers!

    The phones are a jack of all trades (and an advertising/sales tool for the providers). More of a Swiss Army Knife than an efficient tool for the user.

  15. Lifelogic
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Someone should perhaps do an efficient portable laptop and phone combination. With a simple phone, good buttons, clear LCD screen with long life battery of a months or so, and probably with a camera. But also a small wirelessly linked laptop with a decent full keyboard and larger screen for most other tasks maps, emails, skype and the likes. Sharing battery recharging/power facility and the data/sim usage (with roaming to the strongest network).

    • oldtimer
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Asus produced something like this a few years back. The phone slotted into the back of the tablet (that way everything was kept in sync) and would slip out when you needed to take it with you.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 4, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        I think this could be a good product for people on the move, if done to a high standard and with long battery life and just the one SIM card connection for both devices.

      • zorro
        Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Mobiles and your laptops can remain easily synced through cloud technology and mobile data/wi fi connectivity.

        zorro

    • libertarian
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      You dont need a phone on a laptop if you use Skype

      This thread is a real eye opener and explains a lot about the thinking of a number of the contributors on this blog

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      It’s called a soft phone, they come as a licence with any decent PBX

  16. Richard1
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Not sure i can agree, although battery life is frustratingly short and phone calls can be irritating due to scrolling etc. But i’d be hugely less productive without mobile email and the use of collaborative communication tools

  17. oldtimer
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I like my mobile phone, including the camera which has effectively replaced my traditional camera.

    What annoys me is that it has become too smart. It sometimes anticipates and alters what I thought I had typed. I find it necessary to carefully proof read text to ensure it actually reflects what I thought i had typed. I have complained to Google about this via their feedback process – so far to no effect.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Surely you can switch of the predictive text. If you can find out where the software switch is hidden.

  18. acorn
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The smarter the phone gets, the worse the sound quality on bog standard telephone calls. Plus my back-up, ancient, voice and text only Nokia C100, has better sound quality; better signal reception in weak areas and a battery that lasts for days.

    Apparently, voice telephone calls are a rarity amongst the younger ones; it’s all texts and pictures.

  19. libertarian
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Oh dear !!!

    Its not mandatory that you own a smartphone, if you dont like it buy a non smartphone there are plenty of very cheap sim only phones . On Amazon you can buy a non smartphone vodaphone Alcatel for £9.99

    Me I run 9 businesses plus do all my banking from my smartphone. I binned my iPad and laptop saving a fortune and have a full computer in my pocket. The biggest issue is the cellular coverage in the UK is amongst the worst in the world. I can work from the middle of the bush in Botswana better than I can from my local town in South East England. Its true there are certain makes of phone that force you into feature that you may not want. Heres a thing Turn them off . Mobile phone technology is one of the many success stories of UK technology and manufacturing

    • Richard1
      Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      Indeed mobile coverage in the U.K. Is dreadful. For this – like so much other long term damage – we have to thank Gordon Brown. mr Brown was clearly advised at the time of the 3G auction to ensure actual universal coverage (rather than the spurious %age of population used by the operators, a useless stat if you are eg in a car). But he chose to maximise proceeds and got £30bn if I remember rightly, which was no doubt swallowed up in public sector wage increases like so much of the rest of his ‘investment’. This has caused lasting damage to U.K. Competitiveness, as has the continuing inadequate broadband. Even at this late stage the Government should ditch the useless vanity project HS2, and ensure proper competitive mobile and broadband coverage nationwide.

  20. fedupsoutherner
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    All this modern technology is great when you can use it. I would be grateful just to have any kind of decent broadband connection from my home. I am glad you are talking about this today John. My husband has only just got off the phone to BT about the internet in our house. It is terrible. It took me 10 mins to finally get onto your site this morning and that is not unusual for us. Our landline phone sometimes rings once, twice or even four times to get to the answer machine but not always. We cannot have the latest TV packages because our broadband is so slow. It is a disgrace in this day and age. If I travel more than 100yds from my home my smartphone or ordinary mobile loses the signal. Living where we are is like living in the third world!! By the way, Vodafone do a very good smartphone at a fraction of the price of others. I am now trying to link to your CAPTCHA icon but my computer is too slow and it won’t allow it at the moment. I will try later when the internet is less busy.

    • hefner
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      In fact, it is worse than the Third World, where most countries are within 30 degrees of latitude North or South and mobile phone technology in these countries relies on geostationary satellites for handling the information transfer.
      Unfortunately the UK is too far North and here the technology mainly relies on masts.

  21. stred
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    My brother gave his smartphone away so that he could avoid annoying emails and harassing calls, he just pushes the accept and end buttons in a second. I have fingers the size of sausages and have had an excuse to avoid them. Now wifey is going to buy me one so that I can gawp at it like the rest of the family, but I will not use it and am happy with my old Nokia.

    I recently bough a car over the internet having looked at the pictures carefully and read the description of the parts as ‘very good’. Of course, when it was delivered it had a scuffed bumper and broken mirror and chipped windshield. The young lady dealing with my complaint asked me to send photos with my smart phone. When I said I didn’t have one she went quiet and sounded as though I had told her that I had no legs to get to the car.

    As for my stranded asset smart meter, we went back to the old company that installed it because the new company could not read it and doing it manually was very difficult. After five months, it is showing gas at twice the cost of last year and electricity estimated at 80 pence for the year, and no reading taken on the messages.

  22. David Williams
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    The smartphone has unleashed a wave of innovation. Much more to come. The car of the future is effectively a big smartphone with an electric motor and wheels. The UK can lead these innovations. The EU will over-regulate. Embrace it!

  23. Mark
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I still use an original Nokia 3310. It works very well, with excellent battery life. I found I could control my call costs by simply using a local SIM when I travelled to other countries.

  24. Peter Martin
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I felt the same about my Smart phone at first. But, whenever I had trouble I’d ask my tech savvy children for some advice. They’d swipe away at the screen, press a few buttons, and I’d imagine they were looking at me as if I were suffering from some kind of mental deficiency but on the whole they were pretty good and at least some of what they were saying stuck!

    So I’d just advise anyone of our generation to find a young person and all will be revealed!

  25. Earacher
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    There was one message I got from my boss via my works’ mobile phone which was useful. It was to cancel a visit I was to make two hours travelling-time away. That was about ten or fifteen years ago. Nothing useful since or before. Hundreds upon hundreds of calls and driving off motorways to answer each time.

    • libertarian
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Er

      If you dont want to answer the phone while driving, use the off button maybe?

      So you get 100’s and 100’s of calls all of which are of no use to you at all…..okay….get well soon.

  26. Peeved with CEOs
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    It is easy to ask rhetorically: ” How did management manage before smartphones, mobiles, emails and the like?.” It shouldn’t be easy.
    CEO of a major financial institution: ” I spend all morning from 8am just answering emails”
    CEO of the above “He ( his direct underling ) comes in at 6am and works for two hours. Every morning I receive an email from him with a full account of details of the previous day”

    ( They work in small personal offices next door to each other in the same building, same floor ). In addition, they no doubt phone one another on mobile, landline and have a smart phone each to communicate further. It is not known if their wives are aware of this.

  27. peter
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I suppose its a choice between doing multiple things badly (smartphone) or one thing well (Kindle). But I like having email on the phone. I just wish they were more robust – or me less clumsy – £75 for a new screen is imminent 🙂

    • libertarian
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      buy a decent bumper cover for it then !!!!

  28. David Price
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you would be more comfortable with a “feature” phone that a smart phone, one with a wifi hotspot function would allow tethering for laptop or tablet

  29. Doh!
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    “The mobile phone … operates by means of a small screen if there is bright sunlight you cannot read it at all….”
    A cunning plan by our security forces to defeat ISIL, not knowing that one can have inclement weather even in the Middle East and Up North in Birmigham and Bradford

  30. JimS
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I avoid these phone problems by not having one!
    However last year I bought a new lap top and a new car which both use touch technology.
    I cannot believe that anyone can do productive work on a laptop such as mine, the slightest brush of a hanging sleeve jumps the cursor, opens new windows or ‘apps’.
    Similarly with the car. In the 1960s they made cars with different shaped controls that you could tell what they did by ‘touch’, now there is nothing positive to feel and the slightest brush will bring up modes that need the full attention of the driver to get out off. I almost feel the need for a co-driver just to manage the touch screen.

  31. brian
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    If making text on a small keyboard with fingers is a problem, get a phone with a “stylus”.

    • libertarian
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Or voice control

  32. turboterrier
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Like all these high tec gadgets they are fine one could say the same about wind turbines but they suffer from the same fault.

    They are marketed and fed to the masses as the way forward to a great new future sadly without the infrastructure to support them. And to add salt to injury politicians encourage more and more of the same with no thought of the millions being left behind due to little or no infrastructure. My download speed this morning 0.04 and my supplier still takes my money for a 1.5 minimum service. Just one of the prices of living in a rural area.

  33. zorro
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I am also an enthusiastic embracer of modern technology particularly when it helps me as opposed to acquiring every new invention under the sun……

    The smart phone is a good thing because it is a mini computer. OK the screens can be tricky to see in the sun but not on my iphone 7 🙂 … There are also excellent Android alternatives available and some of the lumia phones (640) with windows 10 are cheap and effective.

    You have more processing power/memory between your fingers than the NASA computers had when they sent rockets to the moon!

    The battery life is just as good if not better than a laptop and far more portable. The mapping technology has come on leaps and bounds with Google maps and reviews for many places.

    To be honest, it is quite simple to answer a call – either a swipe or a press and you are done. You can even talk to the phone and it will ring people for you or find something on the internet (Siri/Cortana)….

    Reception is getting better underground too – my provider alllows me to use Virgin wifi in stations and also use my minutes/texts/data in 42 different countries (not all EU I might add – ref remainer nonsense during referendum)…. When I travelled abroad recently the amount I saved has easily paid back the cost of the iphone and the SIM contract for the next two years if I want!

    Oh dear John, is this increasing frustration with your recalcitrant phone or nascent Luddism creeping in 😉 ?

    zorro

  34. Treacle
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never had one: I still have one of the old mobile phones that are now regarded as antiques, and the only reason I have it is in case I break down in my car, something that hasn’t in fact happened for 20 years. I am told that the main reason people have smartphones is because of the dating apps, which are only on smartphones and not on computers.

  35. Simon Platt
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Phones like the one you want are widely and cheaply available.

  36. English Pensioner
    Posted March 4, 2017 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    I fully agree with you, after many years I’ve been persuaded by by daughters that I should have a mobile phone, mainly in case the car breaks down. It is a Doro, and came from the local supermarket and is PAYG. It’s a flip phone with a large character screen which I can read without my glasses! I can make phone calls, send texts and there is a camera of sorts which might come in useful if I had a car accident. If it’s not used, just left switched on, the batteries last for a couple of weeks, and I’ve got a charger cable in the car.
    I cannot understand why people want to do all the things that they do whilst on the move and I certainly would not want to use the phone for financial transactions. Indeed, I’ve refused a credit card that you just touch on the shop’s terminal and I’m glad I did as today’s papers suggest their is a security problem with these cards.

  37. Caterpillar
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    I think smartphones are a good example of how free markets really work.

    Sun readable transflective LCD technology is known (think e.g. early Nintendo game boy), but these displays in pure transmission mode do not look as bright and so compared with a transmission only LCD or an OLED in the show room they look bad, and so don’t get bought. It is the same for digital camera screens – sun behind you and you cannot see the screen. Whether this is information or rationality failure I don’t know, but it shows the market not delivering maximum value.

    Secondly there is a winner take all effect going on with certain brands looking to set unofficial standards for connectors. Again market failure.

    Finally there is scarcity creation so that goods/services are economic not free. Things that can be done free, open source on windows or Linux based PCs are not free on some tablet platforms. Some things don’t exist (e.g. solver and data addins run local on windows, not available on some operating systems). Also forced upgrades rather than expandability.

    Finally, I agree with the point that others have made that in car systems should be regulated so that they minimise distraction. The modularisation and unnecessary tech in cars seems to be another market failure, repair costs and hence insurance up. The unnecessary tech is again scarcity creation.

  38. Den Perrin
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    You might like to look into the new updated Blackberry phone, where you have a physical keyboard as well as the touch screen. So you never need worry about the screen too much.

  39. margaret
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    and the apps are useless . I spend a long time trying to connect and never manage it. A stylus is too fiddly and easily lost. I bought a smart TV which doesn’t connect . I have a system in my car which is absolutely fantastic when it works .It completely solves the problem of having to pick up a handset and even talks to me . I command it to do things , however it will not up load tel numbers although should have the facility to do so. More recently my phone has been cutting off mid conversation. I even had some hacker speak ..Ah well I am connected for emergencies in the car. Police are now clamping down on hand sets in the car and I could cock a snoot to that if it always worked.

  40. Matt
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    My phone works fine. I don’t know what phone you have, but the apple phones are far more polished, robust and reliable then the competing devices with the similar general specifications. I don’t work for apple by the way, but I have extensive experience in this area.

  41. MikeP
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    You realise of course that we’re all being taken for mugs. In order to maintain their own revenue and profit growth, mobile phone companies have to keep offering more and more widgets that we’ll all be tempted to buy, following the herd. Microchip speed and scaling (Moore’s Law) ensures that if these new features are only partially successful, a new bigger, faster, zappier phone is on the market within 18 months to counter our disappointment. Camera phones are a perfect example of this – traditional video cameras have gone out of fashion, we all use our phones instead. Added to which, we save all our emails, take still photos, download lots of new-fangled apps that sound vaguely useful but by doing so fill up the phone’s memory, need a bigger capacity phone even sooner and round we go.

  42. John B
    Posted March 7, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    It appears you have bought a racing thoroughbred to pull a plough. Tools are only as good as their users.

    Smartphone is a misnomer . It is not a phone, it is… “an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator” – so said Steve Jobs launching the first iPhone.

    Voice communication is just one of its functions; it is not intended for writing long articles or spreadsheets or anything normally done on other computers.

    If you do not need a hand-held computer with voice communication, and since you have an iPad it seems you would be better off with a standard mobile phone whose primary purpose is voice communication with the added advantage of text messaging.

  43. margaret
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Predictive text facilities are OK for benign messaging , but I have personally received a lot of grief from the use of predicative text on computer systems used in medicine where I typed a word ,which automatically changed to it’s opposite , but then I corrected it and then entered it only to find at a much later date, that it had been stored in the original mistake.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page