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21 Questions with Stefan Constantinescu of Ring Nokia

RingNokia

Stefan is a huge Nokia fan.

On the scale of 1-10 where 10 is ‘MASSIVE fan’, Stefan ranks, I reckon, around 11 or 12. For at least 5 years, he’s been obsessing over their handsets, the company, their employees, the strategy — so much so that he’s decided to funnel his interest on to an online blog by the name of Ring Nokia. If you haven’t caught his stuff, you can at ringnokia.com — and if you rank on 5 or above on the above scale, you should definitely add his feed to your reader.

He’s a friendly chap. I’ve been talking to him across last week in particular about Nokia World. If you’d like to get an opinion on anything Nokiaish, stop by Ring Nokia.

I asked Stefan if he’d be up for doing a Q&A interview — I reckoned it would be interesting to find out more about the man behind the machine. So here we go. I began with the usual questions…

1. What was your first mobile? (and network?)
Nokia, but I can’t seem to recall the model number. My first network was T-Mobile and still is. I’ve had T-Mobile for about 4 years now and they simply haven’t let me down. You can’t beat unlimited GPRS for $6 a month.

2. What’s your current mobile configuration? (devices, networks)
I don’t leave the house without my Nokia E61 (T-Mobile) and IBM ThinkPad X40 (WiFi or T-Mobile via BlueTooth via E61)

3. What price plan are you using right now?
1000 minutes a month + unlimited internet costs me $70

4. What’s your background? Where were you born?
I am Romanian, born in the city of Ploesti. I came to America when I was 5 years old thanks to the United States being kind to my father; he was apart of an anticommunist movement. When we got to America we arrived in Florida. The climate was nothing like that of our home land so we moved after less than a year to a place that had a similar temperate zone. New York. The bulk of my childhood was spent in this state. We moved to Texas about a year and a half ago riding on the real estate boom that was occurring in the north east. Life is easier here, and cheaper, but I dearly miss the pace that New York sets on your life.

5. What motivated you to start ringnokia.com?
I’m a news junkie. I love trends, and always follow them. What I was tracking a year ago isn’t the same as what I’m reading now. From the open source movement, to search engines, graphics hardware, processing power, web 2.0, I’ve done it all and now my main focus is on the mobile telecommunications sector. Obviously with a huge preference to Nokia hardware.

I’m at that stage of my life where I need to deicide on a career, and I know I want to do something I’m passionate about. When Microsoft rolled out Channel 9 I became hooked. The sheer concept that this large company let some guy walk around walk around with a camcorder and interview everyone was brilliant. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails I’ve exchanged with Microsoft employees. I would like to recreate that connection between passionate users and Nokia, and I’m hoping they like me enough to give me a call one of these days.

As a passionate user I want to know what goes into designing a phone, the operating system it runs, the mobile applications being built for it, what research is happening, how and why the techniques of the marketing department are the way they are now. Once I fall in love with your company you have to watch out since I scour the net to dig up everything and everything I can about it, even if that means contacting employees.

6. You get a phone call from Nokia and the nice lady at the end of the line Says, “Choose three Nokia handsets and we’ll send them to you tomorrow.” Which three current (or announced) would you select?
I’m going to have to cheat on this one a little; I want 2 handsets, and the Nokia 770 tablet. I would definitely, without even thinking about it, have the Nokia N95 and an 8800 Sirocco Edition in black. The internet tablet just because that would be just about the handiest thing to own while on campus. The N95 because a 5 MP camera + GPS would be freaking amazing in one little device that I think finally deserves the title of Mobile Computer. The 8800 since style is important to me sometimes, and nothing on the market screams sex like the Nokia 8800 Black Sirocco Edition does.

7. What’s your ringtone?
I keep my phone on vibrate for most of my day, and I’ve never been a huge ring tone fan. However I must admit, after getting my Nokia E61 I’ve been slicing my favorite parts of certain songs and using them as a ring tone. The Exorcist soundtrack, the Terminator soundtrack, Spice Girls, Rod Stewart, Abba, Enigma, I’ve definitely grown attached to audacity (audio editing application).

8. What’s the last thing you saw at the cinema?
I saw SAW III with my friends, and one of them actually left since he couldn’t take the gore. I enjoyed it very much. I don’t go to the cinema often however as I depend on my Netflix account for a constant stream of entertainment.

9. Complete the following sentences:

Samsung is very skilled in making televisions.

Sony Ericsson phones are the number one competitor to Nokia.

Siemens phones are always difficult to find in the states.

Motorola handsets really need to be abolished off the face of the earth if they run that proprietary in-house operating system.

10. What mobile blogs do you regularly read?
mobile crunch, mobile burn, mobile review, bright hand, Engadget mobile, the boy genius report, slashphone, sms text news of course, all the S60 blogs, WOM World, Howard Chui, and Darla Mack, and I think that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

11. What’s the best mobile application or service that you’ve tried recently?

This is difficult to say, it would have to be a tie between opera mini 3.0 and the google gmail application. I loathe the fact that the Gmail application however won’t let me send attachments, nor will opera mini 3.0. If I want to send an attachment via Gmail I have to use the built in browser on my Nokia E61.

12. Name three people you rate in the mobile industry and say why?

Tero Ojanperä is the CTO of Nokia and is a bit of an icon to me, he knows what Nokia is going to be releasing in 5 years and I’ve always been one interested in research. At his position in the corporate hierarchy he must track many projects that relate to devices that we won’t even comprehend for another year or two. I admire that.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is next up on the plate, CEO of Nokia; he is the man in charge of the direction Nokia heads in. He can make or break the company, and he shares the same vision as me of a world where everyone uses the internet via a mobile phone.

Ed Colligan is the CEO of Palm, which makes some of the best smart phones on the market today. Their operating system may be showing its age, and they might not have the latest wireless features built in to their Treo line, but they really are the gold standard of what a mobile smart phone should be. I only wish their devices were a little bit sexier, thinner, and less crash prone if you’re the type of person like me who wants to get under the hood of my device.

13. I like your Trekkie picture on your blog. Best series of Star Trek?
The Original, hands down, Deep Space 9 had sexier actors, but in the end you want content.

14. What about the paper planets?
It’s the 60’s, they had to do with what they had.

15. Right but now they’ve got the technology to do it better?
In the end it’s about the story telling mate, props can be used to enhance it a bit sure, but even the Iliad from a few millenia ago is still riveting.

16. Ok, would you thus rather have a Nokia 1110 than a Nokia N95?
No, I need more than the basics.

17. Favourite Star Trek character?
Data, I love him.

18. Ah me, too, he’s wicked — and favourite Star Trek babe?
It’s got to be Marini Sirtis.

19. Nice! Back to mobile: What mobile related company or companies do you think we should be watching?
I think we really should watch ALP and see what they do with their recent purchase of PalmSource. I also think we should be watching Microsoft who is set to release a Mobile OS code named Photon that is supposed to be the most revolutionary thing ever … or so I hear. RIM is starting to slack, they’ve enjoyed the number one spot too much with their BlackBerry line and has stopped innovating. Nokia launched their first QWERTY BlackBerry form factor device this year, and I highly look forward to future updates to the E series line.

20. List the most used features on your handset?
My browser bar none, I’m always buried in a Wikipedia page or doing a quick googling of a question. Next up would be email. Then text messaging, and lastly phone. Phone calls have become something I only do when I need a direct answer from someone immediately or it’s an emergency. An email or text message gets the job done.

21. What really annoys you about the mobile industry? What really excites you about the mobile industry?
Carriers that subsidize phones and lock you into 2 year contracts. Outrageous fees for a la carte services such as MMS and mobile internet. Locking devices so that they only run a specific carrier. What excites me however is coming to the realization that what I have in my pocket is essentially as powerful as the computer at my desk less than 10 years ago. While computers will get faster, so will phones, and it really will come to a point where the pc is just that thing that lets you manipulate data in a richer way then on your mobile due to screen size constraints. The advancements in epaper really have me excited as to the possibilities of how we will consume data in the future. I can not tell you as a college student how much I want a device that lets me access all the knowledge of the world, including those ever expensive textbooks. I played with the Sony epaper device earlier this year and I was left very impressed.

RingNokia
Stefan is a huge Nokia fan.

On the scale of 1-10 where 10 is ‘MASSIVE fan’, Stefan ranks, I reckon, around 11 or 12. For at least 5 years, he’s been obsessing over their handsets, the company, their employees, the strategy — so much so that he’s decided to funnel his interest on to an online blog by the name of Ring Nokia. If you haven’t caught his stuff, you can at ringnokia.com — and if you rank on 5 or above on the above scale, you should definitely add his feed to your reader.

He’s a friendly chap. I’ve been talking to him across last week in particular about Nokia World. If you’d like to get an opinion on anything Nokiaish, stop by Ring Nokia.

I asked Stefan if he’d be up for doing a Q&A interview — I reckoned it would be interesting to find out more about the man behind the machine. I start with the usual — in fact the same treatment as I put to Nokia’s CEO on Wednesday morning last week — and then broaden out to mobileish questions — with a little sojurn into Star Trek in the middle.

Right. Standby….

1. What was your first mobile? (and network?)
Nokia, but I can’t seem to recall the model number. My first network was T-Mobile and still is. I’ve had T-Mobile for about 4 years now and they simply haven’t let me down. You can’t beat unlimited GPRS for $6 a month.

2. What’s your current mobile configuration? (devices, networks)
I don’t leave the house without my Nokia E61 (T-Mobile) and IBM ThinkPad X40 (WiFi or T-Mobile via BlueTooth via E61)

3. What price plan are you using right now?
1000 minutes a month + unlimited internet costs me $70

4. What’s your background? Where were you born?
I am Romanian, born in the city of Ploesti. I came to America when I was 5 years old thanks to the United States being kind to my father; he was apart of an anticommunist movement. When we got to America we arrived in Florida. The climate was nothing like that of our home land so we moved after less than a year to a place that had a similar temperate zone. New York. The bulk of my childhood was spent in this state. We moved to Texas about a year and a half ago riding on the real estate boom that was occurring in the north east. Life is easier here, and cheaper, but I dearly miss the pace that New York sets on your life.

5. What motivated you to start ringnokia.com?
I’m a news junkie. I love trends, and always follow them. What I was tracking a year ago isn’t the same as what I’m reading now. From the open source movement, to search engines, graphics hardware, processing power, web 2.0, I’ve done it all and now my main focus is on the mobile telecommunications sector. Obviously with a huge preference to Nokia hardware.

I’m at that stage of my life where I need to deicide on a career, and I know I want to do something I’m passionate about. When Microsoft rolled out Channel 9 I became hooked. The sheer concept that this large company let some guy walk around walk around with a camcorder and interview everyone was brilliant. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails I’ve exchanged with Microsoft employees. I would like to recreate that connection between passionate users and Nokia, and I’m hoping they like me enough to give me a call one of these days.

As a passionate user I want to know what goes into designing a phone, the operating system it runs, the mobile applications being built for it, what research is happening, how and why the techniques of the marketing department are the way they are now. Once I fall in love with your company you have to watch out since I scour the net to dig up everything and everything I can about it, even if that means contacting employees.

6. You get a phone call from Nokia and the nice lady at the end of the line Says, “Choose three Nokia handsets and we’ll send them to you tomorrow.”
Which three current (or announced) would you select?

I’m going to have to cheat on this one a little; I want 2 handsets, and the Nokia 770 tablet. I would definitely, without even thinking about it, have the Nokia N95 and an 8800 Sirocco Edition in black. The internet tablet just because that would be just about the handiest thing to own while on campus. The N95 because a 5 MP camera + GPS would be freaking amazing in one little device that I think finally deserves the title of Mobile Computer. The 8800 since style is important to me sometimes, and nothing on the market screams sex like the Nokia 8800 Black Sirocco Edition does.

7. What’s your ringtone?
I keep my phone on vibrate for most of my day, and I’ve never been a huge ring tone fan. However I must admit, after getting my Nokia E61 I’ve been slicing my favorite parts of certain songs and using them as a ring tone. The Exorcist soundtrack, the Terminator soundtrack, Spice Girls, Rod Stewart, Abba, Enigma, I’ve definitely grown attached to audacity (audio editing application).

8. What’s the last thing you saw at the cinema?
I saw SAW III with my friends, and one of them actually left since he couldn’t take the gore. I enjoyed it very much. I don’t go to the cinema often however as I depend on my Netflix account for a constant stream of entertainment.

9. Complete the following sentences:

Samsung is very skilled in making televisions.

Sony Ericsson phones are the number one competitor to Nokia.

Siemens phones are always difficult to find in the states.

Motorola handsets really need to be abolished off the face of the earth if they run that proprietary in-house operating system.

10. What mobile blogs do you regularly read?
Mobile crunc, mobile burn, mobile review, bright hand, Engadget mobile, the boy genius report, slashphone, sms text news of course, all the S60 blogs, WOM World, Howard Chui, and Darla Mack, and I think that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.

11. What’s the best mobile application or service that you’ve tried recently?
This is difficult to say, it would have to be a tie between opera mini 3.0 and the google gmail application. I loathe the fact that the Gmail application however won’t let me send attachments, nor will opera mini 3.0. If I want to send an attachment via Gmail I have to use the built in browser on my Nokia E61.

12. Name three people you rate in the mobile industry and say why?
Tero Ojanperä is the CTO of Nokia and is a bit of an icon to me, he knows what Nokia is going to be releasing in 5 years and I’ve always been one interested in research. At his position in the corporate hierarchy he must track many projects that relate to devices that we won’t even comprehend for another year or two. I admire that.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is next up on the plate, CEO of Nokia; he is the man in charge of the direction Nokia heads in. He can make or break the company, and he shares the same vision as me of a world where everyone uses the internet via a mobile phone.

Ed Colligan is the CEO of Palm, which makes some of the best smart phones on the market today. Their operating system may be showing its age, and they might not have the latest wireless features built in to their Treo line, but they really are the gold standard of what a mobile smart phone should be. I only wish their devices were a little bit sexier, thinner, and less crash prone if you’re the type of person like me who wants to get under the hood of my device.

13. What mobile related company or companies do you think we should be watching?
I think we really should watch ALP and see what they do with their recent purchase of PalmSource. I also think we should be watching Microsoft who is set to release a Mobile OS code named Photon that is supposed to be the most revolutionary thing ever … or so I hear. RIM is starting to slack, they’ve enjoyed the number one spot too much with their BlackBerry line and has stopped innovating. Nokia launched their first QWERTY BlackBerry form factor device this year, and I highly look forward to future updates to the E-series line.

14. I like your Trekkie picture on your blog. Best series of Star Trek?
The Original, hands down, Deep Space 9 had sexier actors, but in the end you want content.

15. What about the paper planets?
It’s the 60’s, they had to do with what they had.

16. Right but now they’ve got the technology to do it better?
In the end it’s about the story telling mate, props can be used to enhance it a bit sure, but even the Iliad from a few millenia ago is still riveting.

17. Would you thus rather have a Nokia 1110 than a Nokia N95?
No, I need more than the basics.

18. Ok, favourite Star Trek character?
Data, I love him.

19. He’s wicked! And best Star Trek babe?
Hmmm. I’d have to say Marina Sirtis.

20. Cool — right, back to mobile: List the most used features on your handset?
My browser bar none, I’m always buried in a Wikipedia page or doing a quick googling of a question. Next up would be email. Then text messaging, and lastly phone. Phone calls have become something I only do when I need a direct answer from someone immediately or it’s an emergency. An email or text message gets the job done.

21. What really annoys you about the mobile industry? What really excites you about the mobile industry?
Carriers that subsidize phones and lock you into 2 year contracts. Outrageous fees for a la carte services such as MMS and mobile internet. Locking devices so that they only run a specific carrier.

What excites me however is coming to the realization that what I have in my pocket is essentially as powerful as the computer at my desk less than 10 years ago. While computers will get faster, so will phones, and it really will come to a point where the pc is just that thing that lets you manipulate data in a richer way then on your mobile due to screen size constraints. The advancements in epaper really have me excited as to the possibilities of how we will consume data in the future. I can not tell you as a college student how much I want a device that lets me access all the knowledge of the world, including those ever expensive textbooks. I played with the Sony epaper device earlier this year and I was left very impressed.

—-

Brilliant, thanks Stefan!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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