John Chamberlain
Developer Diary
 Developer Diary · You Heard It Here First · 12 November 2003
Nokia's Push to Hype
Reuters is running a PR post that Nokia has just announced the "launch" of a push-to-talk phone, the upcoming 5410. I find it interesting that Nokia calls a product that will not appear for another (projected) 6 months a "launch". If this was software such an announcement would be considered egregious vaporware hyping, but I guess since it is hardware it's ok to pre-announce half-a-year ahead of time.

I also find it interesting that Nokia has so much clout that their PR statements get distributed by a major news service like Reuters. Calling this "launch" (which has had about 15 pre-launch launches, its-just-about-to-get-here announcements already) news is a stretch. Is Reuters going to run this again when the 5410 actually comes out next April (maybe)? Now that will be news. How many free lunches do you think a certain Reuters correspondent is going to get out of this one? Maybe we should call them "launch lunches".

Back to reality, what is push-to-talk anyway? It's an idea developed many years ago by Motorola based on their experience with the commercial radio business ("job comm"). Moreover it's much more than a feature of a phone, it's really a network functionality which Motorola built in to their iDEN network used by Nextel. Since only Nextel uses iDEN only Nextel has real push-to-talk which it calls "direct connect". Two carriers, Verizon and supposedly Vodafone, have attempted to emulate this service on their networks, but really they are just secretly routing normal calls so it is not real push to talk at all, it's more like "push-to-wait" as Motorola engineers snicker.

The question is why is a handset maker like Nokia pushing an idea that is a carrier technology, not a handset technology? Hype! It's all about the hype. It's not push to talk, it's actually push-to-hype. Since push-to-talk is hot they gotta have it now (even if it isn't until next April). Banding with usual suspects like Ericsson they have developed a carrier standard for push-to-talk. Forget Motorola's crufty old solution which has been working well for ten years; we need a global push-to-talk standard that everyone can use. They even twisted Motorola's arm into joining their standards committee. "We understand the importance of interoperability", a Motorola spokesflack said. All well and good anyway. Soon we'll all be rolling in push-to-talk money.

Not so fast. If you read the fine print on the new standard they invented (and which no-one has come even close to implementing) is--hold your breath--based on voice over IP, LOL. If it ever appears it will not only be push-to-wait, it will also be wait-to-hear. Read my lips Nokia, if you even dream of doing inter-carrier PTT using VOIP the connection latency and voice quality will be so bad it will not even be funny.

Get a clue hypemasters, job comm isn't dead yet.

Developer's Diary 12 November 2003 · · bio · Revised 12 November 2003 · Pure Content