Firmware updates for legacy devices should be mandatory not mocked


So Stephen Elop has stated that Symbian mobiles will receive OTA firmware upgrades through to 2016, four years after the final smartphones using this OS are scheduled for release. Good for him.

It beggars belief that some idiots have chosen to knock Nokia, the most mockable of manufacturers, for choosing to provide ongoing support for legacy devices. Clearly these self-styled mobile gurus know nothing of which they speak.

If you truly believe that there is such a thing as a mobile ecosystem it is surely nonsensical to shun the bottom of the pyramid through overly short life-cycle obsolescence.

As I have written previously this issue has become something of a headache for Google and shows no signs of going away as that OS fragments into the legions of low-cost OEM/ODMs crapping out those 400,000 Android devices a day.

This week an all too believable rumour that the forthcoming iOS 5 release will not support the iPhone 3GS has been doing the rounds. The intent is all too clear: you will buy a new iOS device every two years. I’m as much an Apple fanboy as the next guy but forgive me if I don’t see such a policy as being good for consumers.

If Nokia does one thing extremely well it’s firing firmware upgrades that support hundreds of language packs into multiple dealer channels. If you have any sense you should be lauding the decision to prop up Symbian through to 2016.

Image Symbian World

The best selling consumer electronic device in the history of the world

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas later this week. The Tech press and legions of bloggers will be hard at work, 24 hours a day, ensuring that microblogs run red-hot and RSS Readers are stuffed full of new product announcements and service launches. We can expect everyone and his dog to show off new Tablet devices, push their own particular ‘4G’ solution and big-up the potential global dominance of the Android Operating System. I’m looking forward to it.

Before the hype and hyperbole starts, this might be a good moment to step back and take another look at the best selling consumer electronic device in the history of the world – the Nokia 1100. Launched in 2003, this simple mobile phone shipped an incredible 250 million units. Here’s the technical specification:


Network: GSM 900/1800

Weight: 86g

Dimensions: 106 x 46 x 20 mm, 79 cc

Display: Monochrome graphic, 96 x 65 pixels

Sound: Monophonic ringtones

Battery: Standard Li-Ion 850 mAh, standby 400 hrs, talktime 4.5 hrs

Features: SMS to many, Calculator, Flashlight, Stopwatch, 2 Games


That’s it. One of the least sexy mobile phones ever built. Tough, rugged and dependable it has no trouble surviving a 1.5 metre drop test. It won’t support any apps, it doesn’t have a camera, or even a browser, and yet unquestionably, through innovative use of SMS and mobile money services such as M-PESA, it has lifted the quality of life of millions of people in the world’s poorest regions. With no fanfare, the Nokia 1100 empowered countless numbers of entrepreneurs, from farmers and fishermen, to craftsmen and market traders.

I’m certain we’ll see some really cool devices and amazing new services at CES, but I’m also willing to wager that none of them will have the same lasting impact for positive good as the humble Nokia 1100.