Jargon watch: lights out production lines

If you are of a certain age, ‘hand made by robots’ brings to mind the Fiat Strada / Ritmo a thirtysomething year old hatchback design that was built in a factory with a high degree of automation for the time.

Fiat subsidiary Comau created Robogate, a highly automated system that speeds up body assembly. Robogate was eventually replaced in 2000. The reality is that ‘hand made by robots’ had a liberal amount of creative licence. Also it didn’t enable Fiat to shake off its rust bucket image. Beneath the skin, the car was essentially a Fiat 127. Car factories still aren’t fully automated.

Foxconn is looking to automate its own production lines and create products that truly are ‘hand-built by robots’. Like Fiat it has its own robots firm which is manufacturing 10,000 robots per year.

Foxconn has so far focused on production lines for larger product final assembly (like televisions) and workflow on automated machine lines: many consumer products use CNC (computer numeric control) machines. That’s how Apple iPhone and Macs chassis’ are made. These totally automated lines are called ‘lights out production lines’ by Foxconn.

Foxconn is looking to automate production because China is undergoing a labour shortfall as the population getting older. Foxconn uses a lot of manual workers for final assembly of devices Apple’s iPhone because the components are tightly packed together. It will be a while before Foxconn manages to automate this as robotic motor control isn’t fine enough to achieve this yet.

More information
Foxconn boosting automated production in China | DigiTimes – (paywall)

China is making a product that Apple should have done

Trawling eBay gives access to a cottage industry of predominantly China-based suppliers. They take iPod Classics and remanufacture them. They get new cases and new batteries.

Real trick is in the new component put in the device. Out goes the Toshiba micro-hard drive of 120GB or 160GB and in goes a 256GB SSD. Apple had abandoned production of the iPod Classic because it couldn’t get the right parts any more. Technology had moved on and flash memory had replaced micro hard drive’s as storage technology of choice for portable consumer devices.
iPod ClassicSwapping out the hard drive for an SSD provides an iPod with a number of advantages:

  • Its a third lighter than Apple’s version of the iPod Classic. This changes dynamics in usage. It no longer has the same heft, you feel less conscious of it in a pocket or jacket
  • The battery lasts longer. I now get about 30 hours of listening from the iPod. By comparison I get 18 hours out of my smartphone. If I used the smartphone as a music player as well, that battery time would drop further. If I used a streaming service, that would sound worse, hammer the battery life and mobile phone bill even further
  • It holds more music. At 256GB up from 160GB in the last model of iPod Classic it makes the difference between being able to hold all of my music library with me or not. You don’t have Spotify when you have 15,000+ tracks to choose from
  • The same great iPod experience. iTunes still syncs with the device. It has a good quality DAC (digital-to-analogue convertor) chip. With the right headphones and a sufficiently high sample rate it is indistinguishable from CDs. Under normal circumstances it sounds better your typical smartphone – which is trying to do lots of job well
  • It is quieter than the original iPod Classic. There is no longer the noise of a hard drive spinning up and reading the music data from the disk
  • Vigorous movement is not a problem. Apple had done a good job with the original iPod Classic songs were cached in RAM to iron out temporary stoppages due to movement affecting the hard disk. An SSD had no moving parts so it isn’t an issue any more

What becomes apparent is that Apple wouldn’t have had to make that much effort to make the product itself, but for no known reason it didn’t want to.

I suspect that part of this is down to:

  • The law of big numbers. The iPod Classic revamped in this way would be a decent business for most companies, but just isn’t as big as Apple is used to
  • A modified iPod probably too simple a design solution. Apple likes to take a big step forward (even when it doesn’t) – there are no plaudits or design awards in an iPod Classic with a solid state drive

The reimagined iPod is a development in sharp contrast to Apple’s new product developments:

  • Loved products bought by key Apple advocates have not been updated or ignored: the Mac Pro and the Apple Display (which Apple has abandoned)
  • Moving out of entry level products. With the MacBook Pro and MacBook line-ups, the entry device is now a secondhand laptop rather than the 11″ MacBook Air or the non-Retina MacBook Pro
  • Big bets that aren’t resonating with the marketplace: the Apple Watch has been a best selling smart watch; but is in a category which lacks a compelling reason to purchase. The iPad is a passive content consumption device for most consumers. It has a replacement cycle that would be more familiar to television manufacturers than a computer company

 

Running programmatic creative is hard

This is the advert served up by Web Summit in my feed today. Web Summit are famous for their use of data analysis to drive everything from advertising to seating arrangements, you can read more about the how on a blog post that I have linked to in more information at the bottom.
Web Summit ad targeting
I presume that I have been targeted with the ad because of my connections given the relatively sparse amount of data in my profile and posts (most of them are published by a bot based on NASA content).

Given that I work in digital, the targeting seems pretty good so far – I am not British, but lets overlook that for a moment.  Instead look at the creative headline and the image below. It immediately created a dissonant feeling for me. There was no 29 images. At least half the people featured are Americans despite the ‘Meet 29 British going to Web Summit in Lisbon this November‘.

Finally 29 British attendees out of a list of 30,000 sounds a really small proportion for an event held in Lisbon – with the content delivered in English. This copy reduces any ‘social proof’ that the ad may have it in trying to get me to attend.

Data is great at creative targeting, particularly through seeing network patterns which otherwise wouldn’t be apparent. Where it tends to fall down is in creative utilising the data.

More information
Engineering Serendipity: The Story of Web Summit’s Growth | Web Summit Blog

The New Nokia

Microsoft finally let go of its licence for the Nokia license on May 19, 2016.
Slide03
There is a lot of logic to this move:

  • Microsoft has already written down the full value of the business acquisition
  • It has got the most valuable technical savvy out of the team and moved it into the Surface business
  • It removes problematic factories and legacy products

For the businesses that have acquired the rights to use the Nokia name and the factories the upsides are harder to see.

The factories may be of use, however there is over supply in the Shenzhen eco-system and bottlenecks aren’t usually at final manufacture, but in the component supply chain.

There is still some brand equity left in the Nokia phone brand. I analysed Nokia along with a number of other international Greater China smartphone eco-system brands using Google Trend data.
Slide06
There has been a decline in brand interest over the past 12 months for Nokia of 37%
Slide07
Nokia still has comparable brand equity to other legacy mobile brands such as BlackBerry and Motorola
Slide08
The brand equity is comparable to other value mobile brands. Honor; Huawei’s value brand has had a lot of money and effort pumped into it to achieve its current position.
Slide09
But it’s brand equity doesn’t stack up well against premium handset brands from Greater China. The reason for this is that smartphone marketing and fast moving consumer goods marketing now have similar dynamics – both are in mature little differentiated markets. Brands need to have deep pockets  and invest in regular advertising to remain top-of-mind across as large an audience as possible. Reach and frequency are more important than social media metrics like engagement.

In addition to advertising spend needs to be put into training and incentivising channel partners including carriers.

They are entering a hyper-competitive market and it isn’t clear what their point of advantage will be. Given the lock down that Google puts on Android and commoditised version of handset manufacture, the best option would be to look for manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies  – like Dell did in the PC industry. But that’s easier said than done.

Garnering the kind of investment required to seriously support an international phone brand is a hard sell to the finance director or potential external investors.

Slide13
Growth is tapering out.
Slide14
The average selling price is in steady decline
Slide16
This is partly because the emerging markets are making the majority new phone purchases.
Slide15
Consumers in developed markets are likely holding on to the their phones for longer due to a mix economic conditions and a lack of compelling reason to upgrade.
Slide12
All of the consumers that likely want and can afford a phone in developed markets have one. Sales are likely to be on a replacement cycle as they wear out. Manufacturers have done a lot to improve quality and reliability of devices.

Even the old household insurance fraud standby of dropping a phone that the consumer was bored with down the toilet doesn’t work on the latest premium Android handsets due to water-proofing.
Slide20

More information

The answer to the question you’ve all been asking | Nokia – Nokia’s official announcement
Gartner highlights a more challenging smartphone sector for Nokia than when it “quit” in 2013 | TelecomTV
Nokia is coming back to phones and tablets | The Verge
So the Nokia brand returns.. with a Vengeance | Communities Dominate Brands

Supporting data slides in full

5 great tools for the rest of us

5
I decided to post a random mix of tools that I have been using lately.

Sugru – it’s a kind of 21st century version of Plastic Padding. A rubbery resin that’s activated by the moulding process. It’s flexible nature makes it useful as a preventative repair for Apple Thunderbolt and MagSafe connectors. I mould it around where the connector meets the cable.

Nimble – is an in-menu bar app on OSX that is a client for Wolfram Alpha and invaluable for research as Wolfram are quite careful about the data sets that they use.

Hemmingway – its a native OSX app that is ideal for writing with. It provides real time proof reading highlighting flaws that make copy harder to read. It’s a bargain at $9.99.

Disk Utility – An app that comes with OSX, usually not used unless something is going horribly wrong with your computer. It is also idea for encrypting files. Lose a memory stick, its not that big a deal. Your files are encrypted using 256-bit AES – its the kind of thing that would give GCHQ’s data centres a good workout to crack.

Strategy Deck – a really useful site that has just about everything a strategist would need including frameworks, links to tools and an amazing collection of trend reports.

The internet of heavier things

I spent a bit of time with my Dad and we talked about work, engineering stuff in general and technology in general.
IMGP0606.JPG
My Dad has a pragmatic approach to technology, it’s ok so long as it fills three distinct criteria:

  • It’s useful
  • It’s efficient in what it does and how you use it
  • It doesn’t get in the way of product serviceability

The last point is probably something that we tend to think about least, but my Dad considers it as he is a time served mechanical fitter.  Just prior to Christmas one of the gears went in my parents Singer sowing machine. The machine has been in the family for about 50 years. I managed to buy the relevant cog from a website for just under a tenner.

Contrast this with most electronic goods where you tend not to be able to replace products at a component level. Even if you did, trying to find 50 year old standard catalogue processors, let alone a custom ASIC (application specific integrated circuit).

We got to talking about a concept I read in EE Times earlier that month; the internet of heavier things (IoHT). IoHT basically means wiring  up or making smart fixed infrastructure and machinery. Venture capital firm KPCB think that the IoHT will generate $14.2 trillion of global output by 2030.

The boosters for it like KCPB think that this opportunity revolves around a number of use cases:

  • Being able to flag up when preventative servicing is required. (For a lot of manufacturing machinery, companies like Foxboro Instruments – (Now Foxboro by Schneider Electric and Invensys Foxboro respectively) – had been doing this prior to the widespread implementation of TCP-IP network protocols). It is the bread and butter of SCADA systems. But it could be bridges and viaducts indicating that they need work done
  • MRI machines and other medical equipment that are financed on a per scan unit rather than as a capital cost. Basically extending the enterprise photocopier model into capital equipment expenditure
  • Machinery that is continuously re-designed based on user feedback

Kicking it around with my Dad got some interesting answers:

Flagging up items for servicing was seen to be a positive thing, however, how would this work with the reality of life in a manufacturing plant. Take a continuous process, say something like an oil refinery or food production line where the whole line needs to be shut down to enact changes, which is the reason why maintenance is scheduled in well in advance, on an annual or semi-annual basis. The process needs to take into account the whole supply chain beyond the factory and both shutdown and start-up are likely to be a complex undertaking. A second consideration is that plants are often not off-the-peg but require a good deal of tailoring to the site. Plants generally aren’t new, there is a thriving market in pre-owned equipment such as pressure vessels and valves – all of this would have implications for interoperability. Lastly, what would be the implications when when the ethereal nature of technology met infrastructure that has a realistic life of a hundred plus years in the case of bridges or buildings? Looking at the defence industry, we can see how maintenance costs and upgrading technology drives much of the spending on weapons systems – a bridge will generally last longer than a B52 bomber or a Hercules transport plane (both are 60 years old systems).

Financing on a per-scan unit cost. This was discussed less, the general consensus was that this could dampen innovation as the likes of GE Medical would become finance houses rather than health technology companies, in the similar direction to what happened with an early 21st century Sony.

Machinery that is continually redesigned on user feedback sparked a mix of concern and derision. It seemed to be based on a premise that products aren’t evolved already, they are changed. The pace of change is a compromise between user feedback, component supply issues and backward serviceability. Moving to an ‘always beta’ model like consumer software development could have a negative impact on product quality, safety and product life due to issues with serviceability of equipment.

More info
Introducing the IoHT (Internet of Heavier Things) | EE Times
The Industrial Awakening: The Internet of Heavier Things | KCPB
What does technology adoption really mean?
Old 2.0: interfaces and use cases
Old 2.0: adventures in retail
Old 2.0: On the virtual road
On the road 2
On the road
Web 2.old

Interesting video of a manufacturing process

Nokia (NOKA.NX) released an interesting short film of the manufacturing process for its Nokia N9 handsets.

You can watch it on Tudou here.

A number of aspects of the film fascinated me:

  • The amount of work that was done by CNC machines (the drill-type machines) rather than mouldings to create the polycarbonate body of the phone. It more noticeable given that the phone body is polycarbonate rather than metal and implied that Nokia didn’t want to invest much in tooling – hedging against commercial failure in the marketplace?
  • The line layout looked modular, implying that flexibility was more important than efficiency – again implying that there probably isn’t a blockbuster product expected?
  • The work was being done in western Europe, which would have been relatively expensive unskilled manual labour. Components came pre-assembled so a lot of high-value work was happening elsewhere and the factory shown just screwed things together. I expected the Nokia factory to have lots of automated soldering machines and ‘pick and place’ robots with the end screwdriver assembly happening somewhere cheaper. Pulling the parts together like this implies that Nokia is relying on a lot of off-the-shelf bits in its devices rather than taking advantage of scale like Apple does. There is possibly a distrust of foreign partners who would see the complete phone and use that knowledge to crank out shanzhai versions?

 

What we’ve lost with Moo.com business cards

Back in the early-1990s I dj’ed a little bit at Liverpool venue the Baa Bar and whilst sorting through my Rolodex frames found the card of the then manager (now chief executive of Baa Bar plc). It reminded me of the beauty that well designed and printed cards can bring.
Love this old business card design
The card has a fade towards the middle and the grey is actually a matt silver metallic ink. You don’t get that on a Moo card. Don’t get me wrong I love the way Moo cards democratise the calling card in a world going increasingly digital, but it takes away from the craft of the graphic designer and the printer.

Debenhams storefront displays and web design

I found out about Debenhams window display on Oxford Street from a friend who was fascinated by them. Once I had got over the original oohs and aarghs I was curious to find out how they had done it.

When I was a child, shop windows with animatronic displays were custom-made and fragile like a wedding cake. Their skillful construction often detracted from their entertaining nature.

Debenhams animatronic window display

The Debenham’s window display was a product of the 21st century. In sharp contrast to the wedding cake approach, this show was based on cheaply made common pieces. There is:

  • Three types of cheap stuffed animal characters: owls, deer and foxes (which I presume Debenhams had made en mass for use in their store network
  • A set of standardised electric motors
  • Fishing line and the plastic tags used to secure pricing information to clothes labels

Everything else relied on the sense of theatre of the window dresser. The amount of slack in a line connected to the electric motor arm governed the ‘organic feel’ of the movement and the line was secured with the tags. One fox lay in the snow and the extremely slack line attached to his belly gave the appearance of breathing. It was impressive the way commoditised really simple dumb technology produced such ‘organic behaviour’ from the characters in way that would have otherwise cost a fortune in animatronic smarts.

I thought of it as kind of a real-world metaphor for modern web services and social media: lots of simple commoditised components being used to make something that is much more than the sum of their parts.

I love this quote

From BBC Newsnight’s daily newsletter: “I can’t come to the phone right now because I am in jail. I’ll call you back in six years” – Apparently this is the message on the answer machine of Maryland state senator Tom Bromwell. Bromwell was sentenced to a seven-year stretch for taking bribes, filing a false tax return and racketeering conspiracy.

Blogging, customer service and cool marketing campaign

OK, so everyone is talking (alright having a conversation with some naked guy) about the Edelman blog for a Wal-Mart sponsored puppet organisation.Whilst I would like to be exploitative and steal some of their business, I feel for the people at Edelman. When you put yourself in a pioneer position, some of your mistakes can end up being very public.

Anyway some thoughts on it all:

  • There but for the grace of God go I: it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Yes it was pretty dumb and demonstrated the kind of strategic thinking that PRs often get slated for. But I would put good money on it that a number of managers of other large PR agencies had a similar reaction to the post. I am sure that they would love to nail Edelman to the cross in an effort to shake some of their clients loose, but it could just as easily been another large agency instead
  • Crisis management 101: Where Edelman did go wrong was in not keeping the channel of communications as open as they could. Both Rubel and Richard Edelman kept their counsel until they had done an internal inquiry. Really they should have told the blogosphere what they were doing and then went ahead and did it. What is needed now is for the agency to demonstrate that they have learned from the mistake by telling the inside story rather than just committing to it never happening again
  • Sloooow response leads to message amplification: This story seemed to get legs really fast, yet Edelman seemed to take a long time getting a handle on it, allowing the story to gain momentum. Blogs are like an echo chamber, allowing themes to reverberate around -and-around, rather than quickly die like the news agenda for print or broadcast media
  • The only crime is getting caught: Many years ago for a brief time I used to stack clothes in a garment factory. I was very young and there was a van driver called Joey. Joey had been an unsuccessful villain who used to rob payroll deliveries and post offices in the 1970s and used to tell us about the old days. Usually the tale would end with him getting put away and would end with a few factors that had they gone the other way would have saved his bacon. If the client hadn’t been Wal-Mart and the blog done a bit more subtly would they have got away with a good corporate reputation exercise? How many people have got away with the same trick before Edelman and Wal-Mart got caught?
  • Living in a glass house: What made the situation worse is the Wal-Mart puppet sponsored site Paid Critics which is a platform to attack paid critics of the retail behemoth
  • Chose your clients carefully: Wal-Mart is considered by its detractors to be exploitative, abusive and the best example of corporate evil in the western world today (though I am sure that environmentalists would argue that ExxonMobil could give Wal-Mart a good run for their money in the corporate evil sweepstake). To borrow from George Lucas: it’s corporate body is viewed by critics like the Galactic Empire, and each store a corporate death star with Sam Walton as its Emperor Palpatine. There comes a time when a client is perceived to be so morally repugnant (like tobacco firms have become) that you have to draw the line and turn away their business. Wal-Mart is pushing that boundary. (Hell, I don’t mind its scandalous record on the way it treats staff, its exportation of manufacturing jobs on a previously unheard of scale or its treatment of suppliers, but Wal-Mart is so wrong that it wants to hijack the smiley and own it for itself). Oi, Wal-Mart NO! You cannot hijack a cultural icon and get away with it. Bottom line: Edelman’s campaign would not have drawn as much scrutiny or criticism but for the emotive association with Wal-Mart

If anybody wants to comment on the Edelman side of the story, or if you are a masochist defend Wal-Mart’s smiley hijack, the blog comments section at the bottom of this post is there for you.

No sooner had I blogged about how customer experience was an intrinsic part of brand experience than my MacBook Pro got damaged. My home and contents insurance won’t cover it and taking it in to get it serviced at Apple’s retail locations means running the gauntlet of its online lottery for the genius bar.

I took my machine to Square Group instead where it will take two weeks for my computer to be looked at an at least another week for parts. The representatives at Square Group admitted that they were overrun in their service department, probably because so many Apple users have had to make the same trip from Apple Store Regent Street to their offices on New Oxford Street.

This service experience lacks quality and I don’t mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way.

Apple often compares itself to BMW as a brand, yet BMW has a well defined very efficient customer service machine that is based on traditional values, attention to detail and an understanding of customer needs. Apple obviously doesn’t have this heritage and understanding which is the reason why its service model lacks a soul. Slick retail design is merely emperor’s new clothes for being a premium brand.

Finally on a more positive note, Absolut Vodka have an interesting marketing campaign called the 100 Absoluts. Participants passions are tapped, they are asked to contribute their opinions and images (user generated content) on the following items. It’s a clever campaign that extends itself beyond online to PR and advertising. I only wish that I had thought of it!

THE ABSOLUTE BAG
THE ABSOLUTE BAND
THE ABSOLUTE BLOG
THE ABSOLUTE CHEF
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL OCCASION
THE ABSOLUTE COFFEE JOINT
THE ABSOLUTE COLOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDY MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE DESIGNER
THE ABSOLUTE DIRECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE DRINK MIXER
THE ABSOLUTE FLAGSHIP STORE
THE ABSOLUTE FURNITURE
THE ABSOLUTE GAY ICON
THE ABSOLUTE HAIRCUT
THE ABSOLUTE HORROR MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE IMAGE
THE ABSOLUTE JOB
THE ABSOLUTE JOURNALIST
THE ABSOLUTE KILLER HEELS
THE ABSOLUTE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
THE ABSOLUTE LOVE SONG
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE KISS
THE ABSOLUTE MUSEUM
THE ABSOLUTE NOSE
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE FILM CLIP
THE ABSOLUTE OPERATING SYSTEM
THE ABSOLUTE PAINTING
THE ABSOLUTE PLAY
THE ABSOLUTE PRE-DINNER DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE QUOTE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTAURANT
THE ABSOLUTE RETRO VIDEO GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ROMANTIC COMEDY
THE ABSOLUTE SIGNATURE SCENT
THE ABSOLUTE SITCOM
THE ABSOLUTE SOFTWARE
THE ABSOLUTE STREET
THE ABSOLUTE TECH DEAD END
THE ABSOLUTE TOILET POETRY
THE ABSOLUTE TYPEFACE
THE ABSOLUTE VICE
THE ABSOLUTE WEB BROWSER

THE ABSOLUTE BAND NAME
THE ABSOLUTE BAR
THE ABSOLUTE BURGER
THE ABSOLUTE CITY
THE ABSOLUTE COCKTAIL
THE ABSOLUTE COLLECTOR
THE ABSOLUTE COMEDIAN
THE ABSOLUTE CUISINE
THE ABSOLUTE DINER
THE ABSOLUTE DISPLAY WINDOW
THE ABSOLUTE EGO BOOSTER
THE ABSOLUTE FLOWER
THE ABSOLUTE GANGSTER FLICK
THE ABSOLUTE GIF BANNER
THE ABSOLUTE HOBBY
THE ABSOLUTE HOTEL
THE ABSOLUTE INVENTION
THE ABSOLUTE JOKE
THE ABSOLUTE JUICE
THE ABSOLUTE LIP PLUMPER
THE ABSOLUTE LONG DRINK
THE ABSOLUTE METAL BAND
THE ABSOLUTE MOVIE VILLAIN
THE ABSOLUTE MUSIC VIDEO
THE ABSOLUTE NOVEL
THE ABSOLUTE ONLINE GAME
THE ABSOLUTE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
THE ABSOLUTE PICKUP LINE
THE ABSOLUTE PODCAST
THE ABSOLUTE PUBLIC ART
THE ABSOLUTE RECORD SLEEVE
THE ABSOLUTE RESTROOM
THE ABSOLUTE ROCK STAR
THE ABSOLUTE SCI-FI MOVIE
THE ABSOLUTE SINGER/SONGWRITER
THE ABSOLUTE SNEAKER
THE ABSOLUTE SPAM
THE ABSOLUTE TATTOO
THE ABSOLUTE TECH GADGET
THE ABSOLUTE T-SHIRT PRINT
THE ABSOLUTE URBAN LEGEND
THE ABSOLUTE WALLPAPER
THE ABSOLUTE WRISTWATCH
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UPDATE (October 22, 2006)

Edelman have outed two more fake blogs for Wal-Mart. Also Wal-Mart have retired the smiley from their campaigns, now I am hoping that they will park their ridculous claim jumping efforts on the smiley as well.
—————————————————————————————————————————————-

Off the deep end

I had to take my IWC watch back to get it fixed.Cynics may say what’s the point of having a decent watch when it’ll break just like a bargain basement Casio? What you don’t get with a Casio is close on a years worth of precision engineering in the watch.

The watch is also supported by a comprehensive service organisation. Rather than having to argue the toss with a couple of school leavers, I spoke with a professional who sorted out getting the watch fixed with no quibble.

It brought home to me how quality goes beyond the product itself to encompass the whole experience behind it. Its all the other touch points on the customer’s mental score card the make up a brand experience.

It doesn’t matter how good new brands get at making a product, putting that infrastructure in to support it is going to be the hard part. It is the structure that supports the dominance of LVMH and Richemont in luxury brands.

It also shows the serious investment and learning curve that new global brands like Samsung or LG and the young Turks biting at their heels like Bird International have yet to do, if they are to become more than just the vassals for more established western brands. Thoughts?

Virus in a bottle

This is the second day that I’ve received this message from people in my Yahoo! Instant Messenger friend list. It is pretty poorly designed from a social engineering perspective since there is no compelling reason to click on it (think about the I Love You virus back in the day).Whilst Kevin Mitnick would not be impressed at this poorly constructed malware, you’ve been warned just to be on the safe side.

Major Malfunction

I got tired of my Palm playing up decided to move away from the platform as their quality control has gone out the window. I picked up a Nokia E61. Nokia have crafted together a nice looking no-nonsense Treo competitor and its priced competitively as well from what I see on the interweb.In terms of product design Nokia have made a damn sexy piece of kit, most of the shell is metal (I am guessing aluminum or an alloy), with a nice big screen and the nicest responding keys that I have felt on a handheld device.

Where things start to go wrong is the software. The Nokia E61 cannot take much more than 1,000 contacts – that’s right its a business phone and yet when I synched over 5,000 contacts into it I started to get memory full messages.

I spoke to Nokia support and they claim that its a firmware issue and they are working on writing an update but they don’t know when it will be fixed. . In order to get the update I will need to have my phone reflashed at a Nokia Service Point.

I know its unbelievable, so I will run this past you again: the Nokia E61 has a known fault that will directly affect business users because it will not hold as many contacts as a chavtastic Palm Zire PDA. It has sailed into production and they are only now thinking about fixing it.

And in order to further inconvenience their long-suffering customer base the firmware update when it becomes available can only be installed at a Nokia Service Point, leaving the customer without their phone. Nice, this makes the device about as much use as a liberal arts intern in a PR agency.