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The all-new #RIPTech wave

Rest in peace, technology’s naysayers! High time you got a grip on your emotions and your prejudices, writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Feb 28, 2016 01:10 IST

It seems like the last few days were all about ‘too-big to-fail’ tech icons suddenly being read their last rights. In a world that is way too quick on the draw to dismiss something as dead and buried, immediately put them on a #RIP hashtag, make it trend on Twitter and Facebook right at the top – it’s time for some perspective, people!

#RIPTwitter

This one was funny. The declaration that Twitter was dead, with the hashtag trending right at the top, was on which social medium? On Twitter itself! The irony of today’s immediate result and instant-gratification-network society couldn’t have been more beautifully demonstrated.

Clipped wings? Twitter’s been in a spot of trouble and new user growth has flattened. But it isn’t going away anytime soon.

The reason why Twitter was declared dead was simple. Twitter’s been in a spot of trouble recently. Top executives have moved out, new user growth has flattened, they still haven’t cracked how to make really big money out of it, stock prices have tanked and they’ve been experimenting insanely with new features.

The final shot to the head came from the announcement that the 140-character limit would no longer apply and that the Twitter timeline would no longer be chronological. According to analysts and Twitter puritans, these two changes would sound the death knell as the no-character limit would take away the creative short form that made Twitter posts such a pleasure and the timeline not based on er... a timeline, would make it more like Facebook, where Twitter would decide what to show you according to what it thought was more interesting for you. This would effectively kill the main benefit of Twitter being the greatest news source known to mankind.

Well, let me make this really simple and declare it: #TwitterAin’tGoingAnywhere. It’s faltering a bit and its quest to be world dominant, trying to please everyone, becoming more mass market and playing to stockholders, is leading it into a series of missteps. But the fat lady is nowhere near breaking into a song. Twitter is too dominant a force now and just needs to keep it simple and clean. Exactly why it became such a tech revolution in the first place.

#RIPBlackBerry

This one is so spot-on right and so staggeringly wrong – all at the same time. Here’s why it started off. As always, BlackBerry did the right thing at the wrong price. It brought in what many call the world’s best Android phone and then priced it higher than the Samsung S6 and the Apple iPhone 6S. The BlackBerry Priv is an incredible phone. It is built like a tank, with a gorgeous curved OLED screen, rocket ship hardware, great camera, a slide out keyboard that is an engineering marvel and a true Android OS mated with all the good things from Blackberry including security and encryption. Then they priced it at 62K. Such genius in poor pricing led to the final blow: declaring them six feet under.

BB isn’t going to be DB (deadburied) anytime soon either. In fact the Priv may well be the harbinger of a new BlackBerry. They’ve obviously cracked how to make an Android phone better. They also have what all of us will need very soon: an encrypted and secure phone (one global level hack job on all phones for all of us to wake up to the fact that our phones are very vulnerable). All BB needs now is to come up with a lineup of BlackBerry Android phones and fire the person in charge of setting prices.

#RIPFacebookFreeBasics

This is a death to celebrate. TRAI became the Net neutrality poster boy for the rest of the world by declaring that no one could give away selective online services for free. That brought the curtain down on a bitter and very expensive campaign (I’ve never seen so many double-page advertisements) for Facebook Free Basics. The fallout was even more damaging.

Slaphappy Facebook board member Marc Andreessen lost the plot in a series of tweets that ranged from declaring the decision as “anti-colonialist” and continued in a tone-deaf manner by calling it “Another in a long line of economically suicidal decisions made by the Indian government against its own citizens”. The corollary was an apology and some barely concealed sulking that left Mark Zuckerberg red-faced!

Global poster boy: India is the shining star that holds the world net neutrality flag high.

This one is dead and dug into a deep trench. By being way too aggressive, converting an opinion poll into an election-like campaign and truly screwing up with bad blood after the decisions was declared, Facebook has effectively shot themselves in the foot. Bad! Now that India is the shining star that holds the world net neutrality flag high, there won’t be any going back anytime soon. This may in fact make other countries that caved in after Facebook’s onslaught have second thoughts too.

Now that I’ve done the autopsy, played the role of a mortician and been the funeral director, it’s time to move on to more pleasant topics. So what do you think of the new hashtag that is on fire right now - #RIPApple?

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, February 21, 2016

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