Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The bespoke Brompton folding bike is here. What a moving experience.
Yesterday the Brompton folding bike arrived. A clear laquer with titanium parts. It weighs 10.1kg making it one of the lightest Brompton. The Brompton is a 25 year old design. It is the dominant design in that industry. In the past years there is a growing number of people who prefer this type of transport. It is ideal for fusion travel, cycling-train-cycling. The Brompton is a great example of the growing trend of Made in England, where consumers seek high quality keep for life products, it is eccentric. The notion Made in England struck hard when I discussed the concept with the execs. of Vertu, asking where Vertu phones could be made. Thinking about it only few places came to mind that produce the highest of quality, but Made in England, is going strong. The Bromton is the only form of transport made in London. We all know the cost level in London, but if one looks at used Bromptons they have amazing second hand value.
My commute now seems to be around 19minutes, only 2min slower than taking a taxi and 25min faster than walking or twice as fast as the bus or tube. It is simply a great way to get around. What I will miss is the nice morning stroll through the park, but that is the price to pay to breeze home in a whizz. You win some you loose some.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Velorution – The total bicycle experience in London
In my slow going greener campain, I have been thinking what wheels to get, and I decided on a Brompton, a classic foldable bike made in England. I will post more on this cool bike later; this is the story of where I got it: Velorution. Velorution is a fanastic bike shop in London, just 3min walking from Oxford circus on 18 Great Tichfield Street. The shop is a fusion of gallery and bikeshop. There is lots of space and the bikes are a feast for the eye. I had never imagined the range of bicycles as I saw there. The walls were filled with bike related art. Unfortunately the charismatic blogger/owner Andrea, who runs the popular blog Velorution was not there. The blog, mixing tech reviews, lifestyle commenting, art commenting and politics and some light veloporn. The blog is fantastic, and very informative. Velorution is an example of retail renaissance, where its presence is far greater than the neighborhood it spans. Mixing of blog, showroom and ofcourse meticulous maintenance in basement. I had to wait for 30minutes as the previous customer got the right Dynamo for his Christiania. First I thought it was poor service, but then I realized, it is ultimate service, real care, there was only bike Doctor and he had another patient. I was warmly velcomed and encourage to fiddle with the bikes, I did. It was great to do that without someone breathing down my neck. Even Maud enjoyed herself, inspecting the bikes, the different lights. Andrea, seems very keen in Fashion, he is Italian, and has created something he calls Pret-a-Rouler, a fashion show of bikes and suitable clothing, not the tight synthetics with big ads, no this is haute couture. It is discoveries like this that makes London totally unique, the market is big enough for this kind of segmentation and tribute to retail lifestyle – A real moving experience - Horaaay.
My phone of the year for 2007
2007 was a great year for mobile phone aficionados. The much hyped iPhone arrived during summer, Nokia reacted with a solid variant of the N95, the N95 8GB, with lots of storage, bigger screen, bigger battery. The standard N95 shipped in significan numbers, since spring, just as expected. The Prada phone was the talk of the town in the spring, but then long forgotten. It really seems like a long time since I used it. Several 5MP camera phones emerged, the Sony Ericsson K850i is among the best The Samsung F700 is a great concept, and something I expect to see more of, meaning touch + slide out qwerty. My problem with the Korean phones is that the attention to detail in the SW is just not there, they all feel like lipstic on pigs. The SE K850i nor the Samsung F700 neither excited me enough to buy them, so they are off my list of the phone of my year award.
Without a doubt a new era started with the iPhone. Apple has done a formidable job at fusing the music player with a browser and a phone for a very functional and fun package. Not having 3G is a drawback. Here in Europe many of my friends have decided to wait for a 3G version. In my mind there is only one reason I do not want to give it the phone of the year, that is being locked to a 18M contract on 02 at a special ‘iPhone-skim your wallet rate’, Apple negotiates 20% rev share and users pay 20% more, at least that is what it feels like, validating it requires you to be a O2 customer and then call them to say you are interested in the iPhone plan and then ask, how much would my phone bill be with same patterns as in the past be, they might give this info, or try to steer you around it. I have heard so many say they do not like to pay for a phone and be locked to a contract. This was a big mistake from Apple and 02, and as a sales clerk at Carphone Warehouse admitted it is not selling that well. So if I could get a iPhone unlocked in UK for lets say GBP400-500, like the N95 8GB cost, then it would be my phone of the year. Lack of 3G and other small phone app issues I completely forgive.
The N95 8GB is a great device, it fixes all of the N95 shortcomings of being buggy and short battery life. At GBP500 it is expensive. However, you do get it free or almost free with a Vodafone contract at 18M. I strongly advice Apple and 02 to look at the types of contracts they are offering, consumers seems to accept them. Just copy with pride or come up with something more interesting. My criticism of the N95 8GB is that the iPhone exist, it simply is a completely new game. It is a great winner for the phone of the year award, but coming from me, it would be obvious, so I have to look further.
Fortunately, a black horse, the Skype phone arrived. Anyone who read this blog regularely, knows that I really like it. Now 6 weeks into using it, the novelty has not worn away. If you want a great package and want to have GBP 450 for something else, it is a phone one should look at very seriously, I think so seriously that I want to call it: My phone of the year. My rationale is: It is a small 3G phone, it is user friendly, they basically copied Nokia Series 40. But what makes it my phone of the year is the total package. Here handset provider, value add service provider and Operator is actually built something that has value for the user, without funky long contract. To deliver this you had to get 3, Skype, Qualcomm, iSkoot and Amoi aligned. This is very very hard to accomplish, trust me! To the consumer everything seems simple: You pay GBP49.90 for the phone and top up with GBP10 per month. If you like it you continue to pay. This is the type of service offering I think the 3G Mobile Internet should be made of. I cannot do anything other than award them phone my phone the year award. Congrats Skype, 3, Qualcomm, iSkoot and the Amoi folks in China.
Look into the crystal ball and make 2008 a blast
I wanted to wish all of you a wonderful New Year. Going through my pictures, I stumbled on these glass balls and I thought they looked like 2008. I did not want to wish you a new year with some great snow motif, as I have not seen proper snow this winter. London does not even dream of a white winter anymore, the folks in Helsinki still do. We spent it in London with the girls and some good food. Lots of Fireworks.