Silly Season Fallout

My vacation’s drawing to a close, and ending in a grand finale of sorts.

First off, the knee I bumped on the very first day is now a textbook case of light bursitis and requiring a course of antibiotics, since it hasn’t gone down completely over the past two weeks. Movement is not impaired and it is no longer warm to the touch, but it’s inflamed enough (and for long enough) to require me to get an ultrasound and take altogether too many pills for a fortnight.

It’s a pain, but fortunately not literally. However, my allergy and continued sinus trouble has, in turn, degenerated into laringitis and a touch of bronchitis with the kind of wracking cough that keeps you up at night.

The nihilist’s take: vacations make you sick. Avoid them.

The Fallout

I’ve so far managed to steer clear of reading e-mail until yesterday or so, which was (I think) for the best.

Lacking further sources of amusement, and moving steadily closer to home (and hence being able to enjoy mobile broadband, if intermittently), I’ve been knocking off items from my Instapaper queue, reading the stupefyingly biased accounts of the Samsung-Apple verdict, and generally trying to discern whether or not there were actually newsworthy events during the past couple of weeks.

My opinion on the verdict is predictable, but, on the whole, largely irrelevant, so I’ll save you the trouble.

However, my opinion on what Samsung has been doing in the mobile industry since, like, forever, is rather more clear cut:

They’ve always done things that way.

If you go this far back, you’ll see Nokia and Motorola-“inspired” designs. I handled dozens of them over the years as Samsung’s influence grew and the market became more sophisticated, and none of it was really news for anyone in the industry.

The big difference is that the stakes are higher now, and you try to sell more of a smaller range of devices. As handsets became more complex (and hence a larger engineering challenge per device) they’ve gone from a “shotgun” portfolio like Nokia’s (trying to cover every conceivable niche and form factor) to a smaller set of form factors (touch, “candy bar” and “messaging”), with a tiny amount of “premium” devices where there isn’t that much diversity.

Their Bada devices were already eerily “familiar” (and made tremendously irritating due to the UI being almost exactly alike other devices, but – and this is the bit that I always hated – with things like OK and Cancel buttons swapped), and I’m not surprised their Android ones were found too similar in many regards1.

As to the software side of things, quite honestly, I abhor their TouchWiz UI and all the junk they install by default – the only Samsung device I’ve ever considered buying (and that I’m still considering buying, depending on other musings) is the Galaxy Nexus, and that’s solely because it embodies the reference Android user experience – and I like the Android 4.0/4.1 user experience.

A lot. And I don’t think it’s at risk, or that all the noise about hardware and interaction patents are being used to clobber Samsung is, in a word, relevant. There are too many biased opinions on the matter for any kind of sanity to be discernible2.

Anyway, I find myself rooting for Nokia for the simple reason that they currently embody the only decent full-blown alternative user experience on a phone (and one I would actually prefer to Android), and yet their sales are residual, at best, and (sadly) not likely to improve at all in the next quarter, in the US3 or otherwise.

What a weird, fracked-up industry we have to deal with, huh?

  1. I am not surprised their tablets weren’t, since their physical appearance and “trade dress” are markedly different – if unoriginal when compared to other Android tablets from the Honeycomb era. ↩︎

  2. I’m a bit more concerned about software patents, though. But I won’t bother you with that either. ↩︎

  3. And yeah, I somewhat resent the idea that the US now dominates the mobile industry – it’s as if Homo Habilis went from chipping stones to piloting F-16 fighter jets in a couple of generations. ↩︎