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If you only listen to one podcast episode this year…

… you should check out this week’s 361 Degrees episode.

This week we’re talking about Nokia and Microsoft.

I have been a long time Nokia fan — and a long time commentator. I have followed them through thick and thin. I’ve been hugely complimentary and supportive — but I’ve also been intensely direct at times across the years. I’m sure I’ve used phrases like ‘utter b0llocks’ and so on. Routinely.

I met — and know — a lot of smart people who worked for the company over the years. So when the company called it a day and handed the keys of their Devices & Services division to Microsoft, I did stop for a moment and think about all the fabulous memories.

Some of the company’s handsets are absolutely iconic. The Matrix phone. The N95 — the ‘multimedia computer’ that really started the smartphone world, in my view. The Communicator series with their fold-out-amazing-speakerphones. The E51 qwerty. Ah there are tons. Oh, don’t forget their dedicated camera and video phones. The N90 and N93? Loved them.

If you think I’ve got memories, imagine, dear reader, what Rafe Blandford was going through last week.

If you’re an occasional reader you’ll probably have seen the odd reference to Blandford now and again here on Mobile Industry Review. We record the (more or less) weekly 361 Degrees mobile podcast together (along with Ben Smith). And we’ve done lots of things together over the years — from joint sponsorship features to video interviews, panel discussions, the lot.

He’s a very good friend, Blandford. Together with Smith, we get on rather well — so much so that we’re now on our FIFTH podcast series with tens of thousands of listeners around the world.

Those listeners can actually follow dozens of hours of audio back to early 2011. Many of them have been with us from the first episode. And they’ll have very quickly got the message about Blandford: He bleeds Nokia blue.

Blandford is founder of the almighty All About Symbian. In it’s hey day, AAS (as the *millions* of users refer to it — I shit ye not, millions), the site was the number one source for anything Symbian and Nokia related. I used to enjoy watching Nokia employees wanting to get their photo taken with the highly embarrassed Blandford at various different industry events. Of course the fortunes of AAS rose and fell with the great NOK. Although it still attracts a huge, huge amount of readers, Rafe’s attention switched about two years ago to All About Windows Phone. Many of his legions of followers made the leap and he and his colleagues attracted legions more new readers, desperately devouring what many in the marketplace consider amongst the best possible industry analysis and device reviews.

Throughout the years I’ve had Blandford on Mobile Industry Review TV and on all sorts of panels, discussing Nokia. He’s steadfastly and resolutely defended them. Where he judged it necessary he’s been critical — it was always a cold, cold day in Finland, whenever Blandford ‘made his point’, politely, justly and with elegant analysis. He left it to me to — as he coined it, ‘to put the bile in mobile,’ with my commentary. Thanks Rafe 😉

So, how do you think Rafe reacted to the news of Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition?

Given his loyalty, given his investment in AAS and AAWP? What do you think he felt? How do you think he rationalised it?

Well, dear reader, we’ve got it on audio.

We sat him down a few days after the news and fired questions at him. I think at one point I demanded he dispense with the polite commentary and tell us what he felt.

And given it’s 361, I pressed hard. Both Ben and I did. I think at one point I did a Paxman and asked him if he felt responsible, in a small way, for the news. My rationale was that he robustly defended Nokia at every stage. Partly because he was so obviously a fan, sure — but also because his knowledge of the company, it’s operations, it’s logistics, was second to none. He was able to do a far better job than any of their PR team were allowed to. Especially when I was pummelling Nokia on stage during a panel. Blandford would stare at me with a degree of pity, take a few breaths and then deliver a 3 sentence put-down/explanation that I — and the audience — would find it difficult to counter.

And given his substantial influence, I wondered aloud, if Blandford had been more direct with his criticism, would the upper echelons at Nokia have taken notice quicker? (Make no mistake, his writing was regularly distributed around the leadership teams.)

What do you reckon? How do you think Rafe responded?

And what about the future? Can Microsoft hack it? Can they handle Nokia? Or is this the beginning of the end for absolutely everything Finnish-related?

And how does Blandford feel now that he will never, ever pick up a new Nokia handset?

Have a listen. It’s a thoroughly stimulating episode if you’re even half interested in the issue of Nokia and Microsoft.

Here’s the Soundcloud embed:


  1. Huge admiration for Rafe:

    He survived the Feb 11 Symbian apocalypse, adapted and moved on relentlessly with All About Windows Phone.

    Whilst I am sure some would delight in portraying him as Monty Python’s Black Knight from ‘Holy Grail’ (“Its only a flesh-wound”) I see him more as Robert Patrick’s T1000 from ‘Terminator 2 – Judgement Day’

    He WILL be back…

  2. I especially enjoyed the part where Ewan held be personally responsible for all of Nokia woes. “It’s all your fault”. And the podcast version was mild compared to the pre-discussion 🙂

    But thank you for your kind words Ewan.

  3. Ha, Monsieur Ewan: en effet, votre hommage de Blandford est très aimable et sincère! I consider all those kind words of yours to be your way of saying “Thank you! I love you!” after 5 seasons of being personal 😉

    And as for the Rafe himself – he is one-man-institution, no doubt about that!

    Keep up with good work, gents! Ben already picked on your error here, he was quicker, so I’m off!


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