A Superb Rant From Stephen Fry

I (s0mewhat belatedly) just came across this excellent rant by Stephen Fry on the mobile industry, which is also published on his website. The bumbling incompetence he talks about at the companies below put me in mind of characters in the ’90s sketch show “A Bit Of Fry And Laurie”…

Here is the choicest part of the rant:

“Ever try to connect to a wireless network on a Sony Ericsson P series or WinMob smartphone? The contempt implicit in these foul, fiddly behemoths was breathtaking. The profound ugliness of Nokia’s e range, the horrible underpowered nightmare of Sony’s UIQ devices, the quite staggeringly insulting ghastliness of Windows Mobile… for two years I kept believing that the manufacturers and software developers in this field would eventually get it right and produce something as truly usable as the old Psions, the old Palm Pilots and Treos, while utilising the newer technologies and capabilities of the 21st century. The only major player an enthusiast like myself could genuinely admire was RIM, because the BlackBerry was everything it aspired to be. It deliberately had no camera, (secret business meetings, factory visits and so on often necessitate the leaving of cameras at the door, like guns in a western town being cleaned up by James Stewart) and never embarrassed itself by pretending to be a media player. It did what it was supposed to and refused to pretend to be anything other than what it was.

So there we were. They all left an open door through which Apple charged. And now, with unblushing fanfare they each attempt to bring something similar to market. This is good. Apple have shown that there is a huge demand for exciting, innovative, lovable and imaginative consumer devices. All the rivals have to do is to … is to what? To produce cut price lookalikes or truly to pioneer and innovate? Well, the latter is what they should do, but the former is what most of them will do of course, because these dumb firms never ever learn. They are afraid to be good. They will blame stockholders, consumers, anyone but themselves.

Don’t you sometimes long to be CEO of a company like Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia or Microsoft? So that you can say to your coders, your designers, your development teams and your software architects: “Not Fucking Good Enough. I haven’t said ‘Wow’ yet. I haven’t gasped with pleasure, amusement or admiration once. Start again. Not Fucking Good Enough.”

And (forgive this ranting sidebar) how one would lay into the packaging department! “Nowhere near Fucking Good Enough. I’m not enjoying opening this. It’s clumsy, dumb and contemptuous. I’m in product-opening hell. Not Fucking Good Enough.”

Oh, yes Stephen. That’s all very well, but you try being a CEO in the real world of share prices and financial officers. Bullshit. Any CEO who hides behind his shareholders isn’t worthy of their job: I’ve met enough business leaders to know that the good ones lead, they don’t follow. Isn’t that kind of what ‘leader’ means? I seem to be straying. But it’s all relevant really and it all needs saying again and again. Managers, corporates, finance people, executives in tech companies – they all need to understand for the sake of their pride and happiness as much as their success, this simple rule: ‘That’ll do’ won’t do. ‘That’s good enough’ is never good enough.”

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