Posts Tagged ‘smartphone’

smartphone rebates in malaysia

I wrote a lengthy email (on 7 January 2013) about smartphone rebates for a journalist, but I think it didn’t fit with their planned story, so I’m pasting it here instead. The story, of course, never ran. Today I see that Maxis is already recycling spectrum that they own for LTE. Maybe these rebates make sense (from a recycling spectrum perspective), but I still think overall it’s meant to be abused. I’m pasting the email here in its entirety.

1. Who do you think will use the smartphone rebates?

Well, it is stipulated that people between 21-30, whom earn less than RM3,000 per month. The cap is set at RM300 million. This benefits 1.5 million youths aged between 21-30. This also benefits mobile phone resellers at a crucial time

I am more concerned that our youths are earning so little to begin with, but that is cause for another story.

From what I gather, more than 22,000 people have already taken on the rebate, meaning the payout has already been RM4.4 million *gasp*

I do not like any form of subsidy to begin with (including petrol subsidies), so I do not think we should continue to feed the subsidy mentality.

I do not like the idea of flip flops either. You do not first say the RM200 rebate is for 3G phones costing less than RM500. Then make an ad with an iPhone in it. Then back track completely and say its for any phone because of political pressure from youth wings of political parties (read: for a good story)

There can be a benefit – more people with 3G enabled phones. Maybe this gives MCMC the benefit of getting rid of the 2G networks and recycling the spectrum. Puncak Niaga (read The edge from a few weeks back) wants to get access to some of this spectrum, because their 40MHz of LTE spectrum isn’t enough for proper roll outs. This has been done before in other countries, see:

This can also be a benefit for app developers. What apps can you develop to target 1.5 million people, aged 21-30, who are low income earners (below RM36,000)? Will we see more banks targeting this segment with apps? Mobile payments? Mobile loyalty? Etc.

All this aside, I keep on wondering. If you need a RM200 subsidy to buy your iPhone priced at RM2,199, you probably don’t deserve/need it. You’re just happy getting a free cheque from the government, so that you might remember them during voting time.

If you are truly using a 2G device and think you want to upgrade to some cheap 3G device, maybe it will benefit you.

But how does 3G benefit you without mobile data that you most likely cannot afford? Even U Mobile will set you back RM30/month for data from what I remember, and that hits you at RM360/yr. The RM200 rebate doesn’t benefit you that much right? :-) But maybe its about 6 months of free data, which you can always remember till election time :-)

I see the only benefit of this as recycling spectrum. But its sad that we don’t charge in bidding process for spectrum – we just give it away… sigh

2. Who will benefit BN or PR and why?

+ RM200 packet to people earning less than RM3,000. Who doesn’t like free money?
+ Who doesn’t like a new phone?

+ shoddy implementation by BN. Disguised bribe. Highlight it
+ people can now stop reading Utusan and start reading The Malaysian Insider/Malaysiakini. This is a great bonus

3. Was it a good step for BN and why?

I don’t think providing more subsidies is sensible. It goes against the principles of PEMANDU Chief idris jala as well. How do you wean people off subsidies if you keep on providing them more of it?

Here’s again how PR can benefit – its like the left foot doesn’t coordinate with the right foot, thus making a terrible tango (dance).

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions II

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

The Nokia N97

There were just some items that I neglected to cover in the first article on the Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions.

Last Friday, I was invited to the Nokia N97 launch party at Mandarin Oriental, thanks to Text100/Nokia. Amidst all the fanfare and meeting friends, I decided to take a closer look at the N97 again, this time armed with my Kodak Zi6. As a consequence, I have two somewhat blurry videos (sorry, the phones were bolted on to devices that prevented theft, making my job a lot harder), one demoing gravity and the touch screen features, and another taking a look around the phone showing off things like the keyguard, and so on. There are a bevy of questions and comments there on YouTube, which I wish were just integrated into my blog, but I’m surprised at the amount of people searching for N97 videos :-)

If you’re interested in the party, which was excellent, BTW, don’t hesitate to read Yoon Kit’s entry, or even Bernard’s entry.

First up, the phone costs RM2,480. That is the suggested retail price, and its not much different from Singapore, a marked improvement from what the N96 or the E90 costs.

The phone comes with a stylus. There were none around that day, so using your fingers makes the most sense. Who wants to use a stylus you ask? Nokia is making it easy for input of Chinese characters. I however do think that its silly to have to place the stylus in the case (you’re bound to lose it). But I’ve never seen the case, so I don’t know if its something I would use (I normally never use any cases for any of my phones).

Comments in the videos above, as well as from using it, will show that the touchscreen isn’t as responsive as what you’d find on the iPhone. I wrote this when I reviewed the Nokia 5800:

Its a touch screen, and you’re expected to be able to use it with one hand, and you can use your fingers. However, its not so fancy – once you’ve used the iPod Touch or the iPhone, you’ll slowly realise that the touch screen isn’t all that.

Why? The touch screen is resistive, not capacitive, which means that a “click” is only registered when two thin layers of the screen get pushed together under the pressure from my finger (or stylus). AFAIK, the iPhone uses something called “projected capacitive” screens, and you don’t need actual contact (and it works well for multi-touch).

It still applies, with the Nokia N97. Sigh.

From the event itself, some other interesting bits:

  • It seems that 40% of Internet use is mobile. I’ve not seen this anywhere else, but if this is the case, everyone better be designing for mobile use.
  • Its interesting to see that the Ovi Store is a Social AppStore. What does that mean? It means you get regional differentiation. This can mean two things: some apps may not be available in certain regions (say games in China), or it could also mean that you’ll see relevant apps for the area you’re in… so if you’re in KL and fly to London, you’ll see more London specific apps. The social bit? Well, you can see what your friends are using, and this can affect ranking. I presume all this means you need to have an account, and add friends there, so what Nokia is effectively trying to do is create a social network of Ovi users. I don’t like this idea, because I feel there are already too many social networks out there, and studies have shown that you can be active on at most, 3 social networks at any given time.
  • There was a very interesting machinama styled ad, created by Text100 Malaysia, which I hope Erna @Mahyuni and @DavidLian get placed online, ASAP. I think its better than the normal Nokia N97 ad ;)
  • Yoon Kit asked on Twitter if the browser is HTML 5 compliant and if it’ll play OGG. I immediately replied that it isn’t, and later on during the briefing, he asked, and was told “they’ll get back to him”. Maybe it’ll come as an OTA update… But I don’t think open standards are big on everyone’s mind. Look at CD players in cars – they play MP3 and WMA. I’ve yet to find one that plays OGGs.
  • Ditesh asked by proxy if there will be SIP, with the SPEEX codec, and I also immediately replied that there was no SIP. However, upon asking, later at the briefing, we were told SIP will come as an OTA update. I’m weary as to when we’ll see this… but it also seems that you’ll get Skype built-in.
  • We were told that many in East Malaysia and other rural parts of the world, get their first experience of the Internet on their mobile phones. I somehow don’t believe that many in East Malaysia will get their first Internet experience via a RM2,500 phone. What do you think?

Yoon Kit and I chatted about Blackberry Connect, and I told him a lot of this is provided via Nokia Messaging (which is currently in beta, and free at the moment), which in a device itself, premiered in the Nokia E75 (its not apparent its in the N97 yet – probably a firmware update will help soon). He lamented that calendar and contact support is required, and I mentioned that webcal support isn’t available, per se, but if you have an account, you have calendar and contact syncing available… But the calendar, IMHO is primitive to Google Calendar’s sync/publish features, and I’ve never used a BlackBerry device, so I can’t realistically comment.

The camera on the device is pretty good, for a phone camera. A couple weeks back, I used the camera and the Facebook integration, to create an album (Testing the n97). Facebook is notorious for not keeping the hi-res images, so grab them from posterous or even flickr.

If I get my hands on the device, you can be ensured more tips, tricks, and usage information. More importantly, I’m going to focus on WRT widget development, the Ovi Store, and lots more. Mobile app development seems hot :-)

BTW, on Saturday 13 June 2009, selected Nokia stores will sell the device in Malaysia, at what is probably the SRP of RM2,480.

Nokia N97 – Quick Impressions

This is part of an ongoing series on the Nokia N97 phone. Get started with Nokia N97 Quick Impressions and Quick Impressions II.

I had the pleasure of playing with the Nokia N97 about two weeks ago, as Text100/Nokia decided to showcase the device at Alexis. Naturally, I got a little excited, considering I’ve been using Nokia phones for over a decade, and have seen their phones and their platforms evolve. I’ve been using the E71 for nearly a year now, and have been using phones with keyboards for the last few years, so the Nokia N97 melds this for me.

Is this an upgrade from the E90, I asked? Apparently, it is. Is this an upgrade from the N96, I asked? Apparently, it is. To me, that seemed weird, as Nokia is melding the N and the E series together, which is kind of melding fun and business together.

I hate writing thoughts on anything, that I’ve played with for a couple of hours, so I took out my handy Moleskine, and started writing notes. At the end of the night, I came up with three pages worth of scribblings, so here is my take of the Nokia N97. Note that I don’t own the device (yet), and chances are I probably will, if the price is right. Its going to be tough, as the new iPhone’s come out, though ;)

  • The camera lens has a cover now, and when you open it, it starts up the camera application. This is smart – no more will I have issues of the lens scratching, anymore.
  • Build quality seems pretty good, but the one thing I dislike is the back cover. Its typically N-series (I remember this kind of back on the N73), so its got a coat of paint, and after a couple of months of heavy usage, you’ll realise that it will nicely scratch itself, and peel off. The E-series devices tend to come with metal backs, and while that will get scratched, it won’t look worn/chipped. So, this is cutting corners, definitely.
  • Changing profiles from General, to Silent, and to others, is all done via touch screen now, and you don’t need to jab the power button any longer. So much better, because chances are, everytime I try to change profiles, I end up turning my phone off.
  • It has the Keyguard for locking and unlocking the phone, which is exactly like the Nokia 5800. This is smart, and you now no longer need to have a two key combo to unlock/lock the phone.
  • Charging is now improved. You can do it via micro-USB, so chances are I can charge it easily from my laptop. This is smart. The charging port is at the left hand side of the phone, as opposed to it being at the bottom — interesting, no?
  • Browsing around is similar to the iPhone – you scroll up and down, with next to no problem. The keyboard is lit up when necessary, and to be honest, was a little harder to use than the E71, but I figure its just a matter of getting used to. Moving from the E61i to the E71, I took a few days to get used to the smaller keyboard. I’m sure after a couple of days, I should be mostly happy.
  • Opening/closing the lid to show me the keyboard or hide it, is dead easy. I was curious as to how long it might last — I was told that it should last at least during the warranty period ;-) Ha! I’m sure it’ll last longer, it doesn’t seem that flimsy, but who knows? It needs stress testing. And if you’re currently used to using the E90 (or other communicator devices), note that the screen doesn’t go all the way back now.
  • In grid view, you single click. In list view, you double click. Click, tap, whatever. This is a limitation of the Symbian platform, and I hate it. If you’re using to using the iPhone, everything there is single tap. UI matters, and the experience of knowing when to click once or twice, is annoying enough.
  • The screen is clear, like the iPhone/iPod Touch. It has rich colours. It can also play HD quality video, naturally.
  • The phone will come with a stylus in the box, but there is nowhere to place the stylus on the phone! You’re meant to place it in the case that ships with the phone. I don’t know about you, but I never use a case for my phone. So, if I was to use a stylus, I’d completely lose it. Not smart…
  • The camera does seem to rock. In fact, you seem to be able to take macro photos pretty darn well, using it. Its a great improvement over anything in the E-series world (I can’t compare to the N-Series, as the last that I looked at and used was the N73).
  • Turning Control rocks! What this means is that when you receive a phone call, and want to silent the ringer, you just need to face the phone downwards. This works for alarms too (it snoozes it). Very smart feature.
  • It comes with a digital compass, so you’ll always know where north is. I don’t know how this works, but its definitely something interesting. Will it be useful in Malaysia? Doubtful. No one says “go north five kilometres, then head east”.


  • Facebook is on the front. Its a widget, and you can see up to three of your friends status messages scroll by. Kind of useful, as Facebook has become more Twitter like these days. I wanted a Twitter widget, but apparently this doesn’t exist just yet.
  • Apparently, you can create widgets via HTML and AJAX, and not the Series 60 development kit, so I have great dreams of developing on the Mac and Linux now. Plus, I don’t have to futz with the SDK, and C++, so I’m guessing the barrier to entry is now a lot lower to start creating widgets for the Nokia phones
  • Its worth knowing that you can distribute widgets via the Ovi Store. You can sell them too. You can run advertising off them, as well. So think the iTunes/Apple AppStore, but on the Nokia platform.
  • There exists a Friendster, Facebook, The Star (newspaper), Sin Chew Jit Poh (newspaper), Hi5, YouTube, Qik, Boingo, and a few other widgets. Interesting, no?
  • The device I was playing with had pre-release software, and the Ovi Store itself doesn’t work on it yet, so I didn’t actually get first hand experience at playing with it.
  • You can run several widgets, without the phone being sluggish.
  • Assuming I get to play with this phone more, i’ll give more thoughts on widgets… In the meantime, I’ve also downloaded Aptana Studio, and am taking my hand at writing widgets too.

Other bits

  • It supports over the air (OTA) updating of firmware. I wish the E71 came with this, to be honest.
  • You can now subscribe to video podcasts as well. I wonder how the 3G networks will handle more video feeds?
  • The battery seemed to drain quite quickly on WiFi. The suggested lifespan is supposed to be impressive, and maybe it was a case of the unit I had being buggy… Only time can tell.
  • There’s an app that says “Videos & TV”. However, it doesn’t have an in-built TV tuner. Sure, there might be next to nothing to watch on terrestrial TV, but I still think thats a good feature to have – look at Japanese phones.

Anyway, the N97 launches today (June 5th 2009) in Malaysia, and quite possibly around the world. I’m headed to Mandarin Oriental for the launch, again thanks to Text100. Maybe this time, I’ll get to take some video of the device…