For me, the best thing about being involved in the mobile phone blogosphere is the fantastic group of people who are writing, podcasting and uploading videos for us all to consume and enjoy, worldwide.
This summer my plan was to stay in England for a stint before meeting my wife in France. Richard Yates, a legend in the smartphone world, had originally arranged for us to meet at the local pub/hotel in my parents’ village in sleepy Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, for a few drinks. “I’ll see who else I can get to come along,” I had said to me on Twitter.
I had the good fortune to be in England at the same time legendary Australian blogger Michael Faro-Tusino of ‘MyNokiaBlog‘ fame was visiting London; an opportunity to meet Michael after years of chatting online was finally here, so we had to make it happen. Richard got in touch with Michael and made it happen. The meet-up had just grown bigger, but could Richard try to get a few more famous names to attend..?
Well, clearly when Richard tries to get a few peeps and tweeps together, he doesn’t make a half-arsed effort! So on July 10th this year, on a warm summer evening at the Kings Hotel in Stokenchurch we had, sitting around the table, these titans of the smartphone blogging universe, (in no particular order):
Richard Yates (@richardcyates)
James Honeyball (@jhoneyball)
It was a cracking evening, with some great laughs, as well as some deep and thought-provoking discussion. A memorable discussion between Sergejs, James and me was focused around Microsoft dropping the names “Microsoft” and/or “Windows” in its marketing of Lumia smartphones. We discussed that this move had worked well for their XBOX line of products, and that many ‘normobs’ do still attach an outdated negative view on products associated with the “Microsoft” and “Windows” names. The idea that they could simply drop those labels and stick with simply “Lumia” for their line of smartphones led to a great discussion. James and Sergejs, thanks for that!
Richard had brought along his prized Jolla phone, and this was the first time I had held one in my sticky paw, and on first impression I was utterly impressed by it. Sailfish has many of the appealing quirks that I had loved in my Nokia N9 (running MeeGo) but it was clearly refreshed and updated for a 2014 world. Unfortunately, the hardware side of things doesn’t appeal to me very much – I just don’t see the point in switching out back-covers to change the wallpaper etc. – and I wish they had gone for a mono-block, svelte design, but who knows, maybe down the road, if they can keep going? Thanks to Richard for letting me have a play!
Legendary podcaster extraordinaire Steve Litchfield brought along his beloved white 808 PureView which did a grand job of capturing us all sat around the table in glorious 41MP Symbian style! Yes, Symbian in 2014!
It was fun to listen to Stephen Quin and Nick Robinson chatting about the pros and cons of the Lumia 1020 – it is true that the 1020’s shot-to-shot time is ridiculously slow compared to other top smartphones, but as Stephen pointed out, if you have the time to take the shot (as opposed to trying to capture your nephew running around the living room) then it produces the best results. It made me laugh when Nick informed us that his 1020 was all set to be sold on – he wasn’t that impressed with the photos when he viewed them on the device – but when he viewed them on his computer he could see just how much detail the phone had captured and he had decided to keep it after all. Update: Nick apparently tried to downgrade back to Windows Phone 8 after using the Developer Preview and inadvertently bricked his phone. Nokia/Microsoft have sent him a replacement. Hope he is still enjoying the 1020’s camera capabilities.
So in all in, a quiet drink with Richard turned into an evening of nine, with superb chat and deep discussion, and many pints consumed! Some of us stayed to chat well past midnight, but at that point my memory is a little feint and I’m almost certain Michael and I were discussing anything but smartphones at that point!
This is a great bunch of people, and we know that more wanted to join us but couldn’t (yes next time, Rafe Blandford!) but if there’s anything to be said about this Geek Fest it’s that Twitter, Disqus, Google+, etc., are great tools for introducing yourself and meeting other like-minded folk and having some solid back-and-forth chats, but actually sitting down with these folks and meeting them and chatting with them in person just can’t be beat.
Thanks again to everyone who came and travelled miles to make it (Stephen!) and of course thanks to Richard for doing all the heavy lifting in organising the evening and getting everyone there – these meet-ups are just fantastic. Here’s to next year!