Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FOTA and the Aluminum Falcon

Jason Lackey

When not playing with phones, doing demos or making collateral, one of the things that I like to do is play with big, fast motorcycles. So far my favorite has been the Suzuki Hayabusa, a machine named after a Japanese falcon with which it shares a nearly 200 mph top speed. In memory of Han Solo and Chewbacca, I sometimes call it the Aluminum Falcon. Interestingly dual length velocity stacks give it an intake resonance which sounds a bit like the warbling cry of a wookie.

Anyway, I head up to the hills for a spirited romp. I was having an OK time but the bike was feeling more like a garbage truck and less like a nimble predator. Must be getting old, either bike, rider or both. I backed off. Yuck, old age sucks, entropy too. Not happy. Maybe it is time to throw in the towel and get my Jitterbug.

Then I checked the front tire, oops, all the tread was chewed off. Time to head down to the local shop for a pit stop. $200 later I am back in the hills and the machine is transformed. What was uncertain, unwilling and trucklike had become eager, aggressive and sticky. Ah, this is the machine I remember. Ah, this is the user experience I was missing. No longer old and hobbled, I am off to the hills. Nice!

Getting back closer to topic, that renewed bond, the restoration of lost luster that I got with a new tire is in many ways like the user experience a mobile subscriber can get with Over The Air management.

Let me explain.

Phones ship with bugs. Complex ones more so than simple ones. However, it is not just the smartphones of the world that ship with bugs, featurephones do too. Regardless of what kind of phone it is, it is grating when you find bugs. In some cases the bugs can degrade if not completely ruin the user experience. One popular featurephone would periodically corrupt its address book and crash - fixed with FOTA. Another had significant issues with speaker volume, to the point of potentially damaging the hearing of users. Another had issues with the integrated speakerphone. Dropped calls, poor battery life, crashes, freezes, a long list of Bad Things - all fixed with FOTA.

In my case, after an over the air upgrade of my aging flip phone, much like the Aluminum Falcon with new rubber, it was like having a new phone. All the stuff that I liked was still there, set up, configured and ready to go. Much of the stuff I didn't like that was making me sour and mean, poof, that stuff was largely gone. Best of all, no pit stop required, do not pass go, do not pay $200.

To be sure, you can indeed update devices with special apps that run on your PC. To be sure, you can brick your phone doing this kind of thing as well. If you want a real chuckle, take a look here http://thecsr.blogspot.com/2009/04/zen-and-art-of-handset-maintenance.html and check out the gauntlet you need to run in order to update your Blackjack. Hmmm....doesn't seem to be quite as easy, fast or convenient as one would probably like.

I guess you could also go to a brick and mortar store as well. Last one I was in had a whole bunch of people waiting for help, but no real queuing system, making for long waits and frustration as well as contention and dominance struggles about who was next. With luck, you get a tech who actually knows what he or she is doing and has all the right cables and is allowed to help.

Or, you could click down a couple menus and go to the fridge and by the time you have fetched a cool, refreshing beverage you could be well on your way to stomping those bugs and having a more rewarding, better experience. Think I like this plan. Wonder what happens if I enter *#0000#?

Now, what's in the fridge?

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