Following up on my pledge to never buy routers that are not supported by OpenWRT, FreeWRT, or similar Free Software projects, I wish the same could be done for mobile phones, but I am not yet sure how.
Mobile phones suffer more from shitty software than many other devices, and their flaws are more painful because we interact with them so much. Recently, I wrote about the Hell’O'Moto that I found myself in when buying a Motorola phone. That is a mistake I certainly won’t repeat anytime soon — usually it takes me between 7.5 and 15 years to maybe give such companies another chance.
So I am actually looking into mobile phones again, trying to figure out what to get. While I decided to try Motorola because I was not willing to spend my money on supporting Nokias pro-software patent policy, I now found myself wondering whether to consider their E70 phone. It does have nice hardware design and — unlike the Blackberry, for instance — does not seem exclusively designed to make people dependent on Microsoft Windows.
So I was rather interested when The Register put online a review of the Nokia E70. The review starts very favorably with the hardware, including the battery lifetime, and then comes to the software. Here is what Andrew Orlowski had to say about it:
A special circle of Hell needs to be created for the souls behind Nokia's new web browser. [...] The kindest thing to say is that it makes for a great demo, showing off stamp-sized portions of full web pages in their glorious colour. But it's strictly for show. Web, as the browser's called, may as well have been designed by people who have spent the past few years in a time capsule, having only partial descriptions of the web fed through to them in an ancient and forgotten language, with no Rosetta Stone to help.
So it appears that Motorola does not have the monopoly to put its customers into software-induced hell. It seems that once more perfectly good hardware design is invalidated by bad software, which is all the more infuriating considering that in general we could fix this, if they’d let us! But in most cases they try to prevent or at least discourage this from happening — and are not cooperative with people who try to make their products better, effectively helping them to sell more of them.
And by the way, Mr Orlowski, by making it better I did not mean that I wanted to put the proprietary Opera Browser on there that you seem to like so much and that I got the impression you were advertising for quite heavily in your article. I would definitely choose Free Software, and Free Software only. Just so you know.