13 April 2012 by Chris Edwards
The good news: it's a software problem. Or, at the very least, the fix can be done in software. The bad news: no-one noticed a showstopper bug before the Lumia 900 shipped. Indeed, the bug only raised its head once enough of the handsets were being used in anger for it to become noticeable.
Nokia's response is admirably fast and probably effective. Other handsets have experienced serious problems and not been met with a response in which the company effectively refunds the notional purchase price of the handset (obviously ignoring the part that is subsidised by the telecom operator). If the bug gets fixed on schedule - the patch is supposed to be ready on Monday - it is likely to be a blip for the new phone rather than a major problem.
The depth of Nokia's response is a testament to its precarious market position. It's hard to imagine a more fashionable handset maker adopting a similar position on refunds, although it might not want to drag its feet on a fix for something quite so serious. But Windows Phone 7 has yet to establish a presence, especially in the important US market, that rivals that of the iPhone. An unfashionable phone that's not reliable either is not an attractive prospect.
The issue with the Lumia 900 is sympomatic of a larger malaise in phone development. People, particularly business users, still talk fondly of old models such as the 6310 which, as Apple used to be able to say, just worked. Some still do courtesy of a battery change as they make more reliable workhorses for those situations where you don't need to tweet that you've logged into Facebook at Starbucks on 4Square.
The modern smartphone is a marvellous thing. And incredibly unreliable. The iPhone 3GS, for example, is known to suddenly black out five minutes into a call and then reboot - apparently because in a poor-signal area its battery-life estimation goes haywire.
The root of the problem is arguably the seamless nature of the smartphone system software itself - one operating system takes care of almost all software-based operations much like a PC. As applications and background tasks are loaded onto the platform, the interactions between practically impossible to predict. And serious problems emerge.
Bugs such as the one experienced by the Lumia 900 are a signal that the architecture of these systems should change - separate critical, protocol intensive operations from the user layer and have them communicate through well verified, well documented interfaces. That does not in itself guarantee bug-free operation but it at least reduces the possibility for unexpected interactions and problems such as the Lumia's struggle with memory management.
Posted By: Chris Edwards @ 13 April 2012 04:02 PM General
FuseTalk Standard Edition - © 1999-2013 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.
"Africa is abundant with engineering opportunity. We look at some of the projects and the problems."
- LED bulb efficiency - its all about the drivers not the LEDs? [08:07 am 24/05/13]
- Marketing from Engineers' perspective [02:18 am 24/05/13]
- EMC and ESD short training course [08:49 pm 23/05/13]
- Isolation for repair of transformer feeder [06:38 pm 23/05/13]
- Neutral Earthing in Standby Generator Applications [11:04 am 23/05/13]
Tune into our latest podcast