Nokia Lumia 800 controversy: A review gone wrong, a publisher who crossed the line

I haven’t heard about Yogesh Sapkale until now. I wouldn’t have heard about him if it wasn’t for my Google Alerts and this Neowin article. Apparently there has been a controversy over a ‘review’ of the Nokia Lumia 800 phone on the MoneyLife magazine. Sapkale is a mini celebrity right now in the sense of “any publicity is good publicity”. I am probably helping him get even more press and some link love. But what the heck, we all like a little fun from now and then.

Here’s what happened. Sapkale posted a ‘review’ of Nokia Lumia 800 on MoneyLife on December 16, 2011. The title: ‘Nokia Lumia 800: The noPhone that need to go miles before’…. A noPhone as in an iPhone.  And this noPhone Sapkale referring to is Nokia Lumia 800 which happens to be one of the better smartphones out there in the market. The whole blogosphere is abuzz with Lumia 800’s beauty, brains and the Windows UI.

Here’s how the article started:

Before I start, let me confess that this review is completely based on technical specifications and not a hands-on experience.

Here’s how it ended:

Although Nokia sees its Lumia 800 to be a competitor to Apple iPhone, it is nowhere near the niche product. In fact compared with iPhone, the Lumia 800 can be termed as ‘noPhone’. Even compared with Samsung products, Nokia is trying to sell this handset with specifications similar to S Plus but charging a premium. Four factors work in favour of Samsung Galaxy Plus, one, its screen is Super AMOLED, two the screen size is 4 inches and third and biggest is it runs on Android and fourth it is available at around Rs23,500. By the way, if interested one can grab the elder sibling, the Galaxy S II for a lesser price than the Nokia Lumia 800.

Let me not burden you with whatever happened in the middle because it is just garbage.

Sapkale lost the plot even before it started.  It neither was a review or technical specification regurgitation. It is simply a straight comparison with Samsung Galaxy S Plus and whole lot of ranting. There wasn’t a single positive thing mentioned about Lumia 800 which is very surprising.

If you haven’t touched the phone then you are treading a dangerous path. If the content is based on technical specifications alone and go on to make claims that a phone is a noPhone, then that becomes a treacherous path. The post is clearly aimed at controversy and subsequent glory. The author and the publication should have been prepared for it.

Unsurprisingly there were 54 comments to the post and most of them abusing the post/author about how biased the ‘review’ was. If you have been publishing online and just posted a controversial post this is only expected. However the reaction to the comments is totally unexpected and unethical.

The author has put on his Sherlock Holmes hat and went on to dig the comments origin. He found out that a few of the comments originated from Microsoft office in Redmond and Nokia office in India. After finding this, he shared his findings with his readers in a follow-up post. The author also posted the IP address and the location details and misdirected his anger towards Nokia and Microsoft. Not cool my friend. Not cool at all.

Hat tip: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Let me just step into the author’s shoes a little bit and understand what he is trying to say. It’s difficult with all the noise he makes but let me try. The only common thread for both the posts is the price of Nokia Lumia 800 is a little high when compared to Samsung Galaxy S Plus and India is price sensitive market. Not an epiphany, but true nevertheless.

I find most of the phones expensive. iPhone 4S was expensive and I said that you shouldn’t be too concerned about the price and buy it if you want to buy it. A smartphone is not your rice or dal and complaining about the price (unless it’s your day job) is a futile exercise.

Yet another example is Micromax Superfone A85. Micromax has launched an Android phone called Superfone Lite A85 at a price of Rs. 19000 (US$362). I haven’t touched the phone but immediately pronounced that the phone is expensive for a Micromax phone. For the simple reason that Micromax has been selling their phones in the 10K range and launching a 19K phone is a giant leap of faith. They should have taken a mid-path by launching in the 14K-16K range. That they did. Micromax has slashed the price of A85 to Rs. 15290 yesterday after just 41 days of launching A85. That’s the reason why I like Micromax and even advised Nokia to learn something from it.

Who crossed the line?

It’s definitely not the Nokia and Microsoft employees. They might have used ‘abusive’ language but abusive is relative. I felt the post to be more abusive even if it doesn’t contain our favorite four letter word. Most importantly the author has invited the ire. Who actually crossed the line? It’s the author who has posted the IP addresses, revealed the identities of its commenters and ridiculed the readers. Not only it is uncool, it is outright unethical. Or in language author understands, it’s abusive.

Dear Sapkale, if you happen to read this, then congratulations on your new-found ‘success’. If you want to comment on this, feel free to do so. Because I won’t be publishing your IP address. Be as abusive as you want to. I won’t even be wasting my time with a re-post. Also don’t worry about thanking me for those 2 incoming links.

This conversation is over.