A revived and refreshed Informer greets you today after a month off that included exploring the delights of France. It’s a very diverse country, offering contrasting experiences such as camping in the Dordogne, wine-tasting in the Cotes du Rhone and queuing in Disneyland. But one factor remains constant throughout this beautiful and fertile land – rubbish mobile coverage.
It is a hazard of the journalistic trade to be persistently lied to. Most of these are pretty benign lies, or not even that – merely half-truths, exaggerations or hyperbole – but the selective dissemination of information by those with an overt agenda is big business.
Predictable though it is, the Informer just had to reflect on Apple’s mega launch this week. Unveiling three major new products at one event is just showing off. Apple probably had half of this gear sitting around for years, but it just felt like lulling its competitors into a false sense of security, before giving them so much to worry about that Samsung has presumably had to hire armies of therapists just to keep its senior execs sane.
The business world is like the real world, but with everything slightly altered. That’s because, in the real world, we’re not constantly under pressure to appear to be productive. If we want to spend days on end slumped on the sofa in front of the cricket we can, although as the Informer can confirm, dissent from those close to you is never far away.
This week presented a change of scenery for the Informer, who fled the glorious British summer into the typhoon-soaked arms of Seoul, South Korea, the home of LTE speeds so fast that your phone downloads stuff before you even know you want it.
Nokia is a company and brand that has been synonymous with the mobile industry pretty much since its inception. A decade ago Nokia was so dominant as a handset vendor the Informer wondered why anyone else even bothered, with Motorola and BlackBerry among the few that were able to coexist with the unstoppable Finnish juggernaut (and look at them now).
If a band plays at a summer music festival, but nobody records it and uploads it to social media, does it make a sound? This essential philosophical question of our times was never more important than over the past couple of weeks, when the UK population mobilised for the annual tradition of listening to music in a muddy field.
European mobile operators are big boys and can look after themselves, but sometimes the Informer can’t help feeling for them as they strive to fend off attacks from Silicon Valley OTT giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, while being constantly hamstrung by their own side.
You can tell a lot about people’s enthusiasms by the language they use; the greater the enthusiasm the more conventional adjectives prove insufficient to truly do the subject matter justice. Wine connoisseurs, for example, refer to obscure fruits, nuts, minerals or even abstract concepts in order to fully convey the majesty of some grapes that have been left lying around for a year or so.
It’s with a heavy heart that The Informer puts hand to keyboard today, following the ignominious exit of the English football team from the World Cup in Brazil. As ever, following the national football team has been an emotional rollercoaster, exacerbated by violently shifting expectations in the build-up to the tournament.
Transformation. It’s such a positive word, isn’t it; one that conjures images of butterflies emerging from the crysalis, of landscapes freshly draped in virgin snow. Or, more prosaically, of the kind of massive weight loss that drives people to pose for photographs standing inside a pair of parachute-sized trousers, holding the waistband out with their thumb and beaming the beam of the newly and evangelically slender.
Telecoms is an industry so fast-moving that even reflecting back on how things were a decade ago evokes sepia-tinged images of people from the past walking unnervingly fast to the soundtrack of frantic piano. “I remember when the point of mobile phones was to make phone calls,” sneer parents everywhere to their digitally native children.
“Get rich or die tryin’,” is the motto coined by rapper Curtis “50 (“fiddy”) Cent” Jackson and subsequently linked to rap culture worldwide. This week another famous rapper and producer, Dr Dre, became the richest of the rich – to the tune of $3bn – and is still very much alive.
There is a stereoptypical portait of the London taxi driver as a bubbling cauldron of anger and resentment, white-knuckled hands clenching the steering wheel, scowl alternating between the road in front of him and the passenger in the rear view—a passenger now cast as an audience of one to a spittle-lipped tirade about how UKIP’s immigration policy is too liberal. Many cab drivers would take issue with such a narrow-minded portrait, which is ironic, as nobody loves a bigoted stereoptype like a London cabbie.
The Informer this week found himself having several conversations about mobile dating app Tinder, a kind of local-lonely-hearts that has claimed something of a reputation for facilitating casual trysts lasting no longer than a Vine video. In a world where consumption of everything has become so rapid fire, it stands to reason that relationships would eventually fall under the hammer of transience. Figuratively spun up and spun down after the required time period like so many virtual machines, waiting to fulfil their as-a-service destiny.
Poor old Mobistar. The Belgian operator was probably bristling with pride this week after becoming the first in its market to complete a test of LTE Advanced technology. In partnership with Huawei it aggregated 1800MHz and 800MHz spectrum to drive throughput of more than 200Mbps. The firm’s chief network officer heralded “the future of high-speed mobile” upon the trial’s completion.
As the Informer was routinely deleting his morning email today he overheard one of his colleagues exclaim that they had just downloaded “a really great album of Crowded House covers.” Now the Informer is not normally one to judge but that’s a sentence he never expected to hear. The only real exposure the Informer has had to the Aussie chart toppers is those two songs that everybody knows and that was only because an ex-housemate, who had the worst music taste in the world, had a big crush on them.
The Informer once spent a month in Costa Rica. What a beautiful place it is; spectacular jungles, intricate river networks, active volcanoes, perfect, deserted beaches. Admittedly the presence of MASSIVE spiders everywhere made for a holiday that wasn’t unequivocally relaxing. More than once the sights and sounds of the Informer high-stepping at full tilt like an NFL wide receiver, while shrieking like a B-movie scream-queen, disturbed the tranquility of the forest.
The Informer has often thought that it would be fun to work in France. He is full of admiration for the two-hour lunch; the 35 hour working week and the Gallic shrug. Well the country has gone one better this week, bringing in rules to protect employees from being disturbed by work email when outside of office hours.