The buzzing of the phone was incessant. My bleary eyes focused on the ‘restricted number’ flashing on the screen and it woke me up with a start. Trying not to croak (it was 3am), I practised a few hellos before pressing the green button.
“This is Tim Cook,” said the slightly wispy voice on the other side. “You may know me as the CEO of Apple and I’d like to talk about your open letter last week”. He then proceeded to tell me how he agreed with everything I had written, and how Apple as a company would change, based on my pointers. The rest of the day was spent taking calls from Sergey and Larry (Google), Jong-Kyun (Samsung), Lei Jun (Xiaomi), Cher (HTC) and the founders and CEOs of other smartphone companies. Each promised to make dramatic changes, and said that they’d implement my suggestions immediately.
The buzzing of the phone signalled that Tim wanted to talk again. But as I reached out to answer it, I saw that the screen was flashing ‘Alarm’! I woke up with a start yet again. It was all just a dream, a good one while it lasted.
That’s not to say that I didn’t get any response to Part 1 of my open letter last week. Quite a few ‘people that matter’ in the smartphone industry had long talks with me. Most were to admonish me for my tone and attitude. Quite a few admitted that it was time for something to change as the market was becoming self-serving and lethargic, and the points I had raised were a good start.
But it was from all of you, the readers, that I got the real response. I’d touched a collective nerve and all of you took to various platforms to vent. Here’s the promised continuation of that letter to keep those fires burning.
It’s a long list that I have still not finished. But I’m exhausted with the obsession with slim phones (inconvenient to hold, bad battery life), flash sales to rack up publicity (a horrible way to treat loyal customers), copycat products in the economy smartphone market (nobody innovates) and big announcements without the product or the software anywhere close to completion.
I’m exhausted not from writing this letter, but because of everything you could do but refuse to. I’m truly hopeful that this letter does start off some sort of a mini revolution. Now to wait for that late-night call. Come on Tim, call me. You know I’m right.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, August 2
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