Date: November 11th, 2012
Considering I have been a member of IndiBlogger since 2010, I had yet to attend one of the many blogger meetups the popular forum hosts in cities across India (and occasionally abroad). This being an event sponsored by Nokia and hosted by one of my favourite NDTV anchors Rajiv Makhni and a Michelin-starred chef by the name of Vikas Khanna, I just couldn’t make excuses this time around.
A ‘gadget guru’ and a celebrity chef thrown together summed up what Nokia India’s Apptasting theme was all about. Given Nokia and Microsoft’s combined efforts to popularize the Windows Phone OS, I had a hunch what was in store. But I’ll be honest, part of the reason I immediately signed up for the event was in the hopes Nokia would have their Lumia phones on display – especially the much anticipated Lumia 920.
You see, I’m at the stage where I have to upgrade from my Nokia E72 – a 2009 smartphone, but has since been ‘outsmarted’ by the many touch-based devices that have now become the norm for mobile phones these days. I’m no fanboy but important to me were a stable ecosystem with a healthy dose of good quality apps, a good screen and an excellent in-built camera. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is tempting but Android is way too open a platform for me, Nokia’s Lumia 920 blew me away with its camera features, and seeing what the complete package of what the iPhone 5 offers… I’m tempted to go for it. Sadly, I need both my kidneys, which is why I’m open to learning more about the alternatives.
Anyway… after an epic (and tiring) Saturday night, I made my way to ITC Gardenia hotel which was to be the venue for tonight’s IndiBlogger meet.
What followed throughout the evening was a healthy dose of fun with a whole lot of audience participation. They randomly invited several bloggers on-stage to ask them why they blog and whose team they were on – Rajiv’s tech team or Vikas’ food team. It was interesting to hear from various bloggers and their respective backgrounds, one of whom was a farmer spreading his knowledge of agricultural sciences, to a senior blogger who claims his articles on sex are the most widely read on his blog. I didn’t prod for details.
Rajiv and Vikas also demonstrated many fun and clever apps available on the Nokia Marketplace, including one that could easily turn any video into a black-and-white Charlie Chaplin-esque movie in a matter of seconds.
While on my second glass of wine, Rajiv asked the audience to volunteer for the next demo. He wanted people who had the most amount of wine to come up on the stage. A woman who had three shots of tequila (yes, they had tequila on offer too) gleefully walked up. I made the ‘V’ sign using my fingers but jokingly said “roman numeral five” — and got picked as well.
The demo was for a breath analyzer app. You blow into the mouthpiece of the Lumia phone and in just a few seconds it tells you the alcohol content in your breath/body. Not only that, but it tells you what the legal limit is in Karnataka and other trivia. I was quite amused as I assumed breath analyzers required much more technology to detect ethanol/alcohol.
Still, just volunteering for this demo won me a gift — it wasn’t a Lumia phone but instead a Nokia portable mobile charger, a very handy accessory to have!
Update: Here’s a video from Rayyan Rizwan:
Vikas had a game for foodies, which meant this was also something I could volunteer for. Unfortunately, those who had already gone on stage were asked to give the others a chance. So I stayed put in my seat.
There was no app to demo, but the bloggers had to put their taste palettes to test. Each team had to take a taste of the soup presented to them and guess as many correct ingredients. The winners got a Lumia phone each.
Anyway, the last segment of the evening was selecting the best app idea. Five ideas were shortlisted and in true reality show ishtyle, were each given a minute to impress the judges. Some of the ideas were good, despite how sexist a manner in which they were presented, while some were not so good. I felt the two ideas I suggested were better and a lot of more feasible.
My vote went for the guy who suggested a crowdsourcing app to highlight pot-holes in Bangalore. If more and more users (using their GPS/signal tracking) were to pin-point the location of a menacing pot-hole, then the fixing up of that pothole could be given priority. Unfortunately, he only got the runner-up prize. The top prize went to a fashion app which would tell the user where to get a particular clothing item or accessory by simply taking a photo of it. Great conceptually, but engineering that to life is another thing. The woman who suggested it walked away with a Lumia 900 (-_-). I guess I should have just gone with fantastical ideas than practical ones.
Happy to hear that, I hunted the Nokia staff (whom I shall not name) and asked him if I could just see the phone – which by the way hasn’t been launched in India yet! Although the reviews claimed the Lumia 920 was a massive phone, it didn’t feel bulky or heavy in my hand. It felt great in fact, and seemed powerful with all my swipes running smoothly or without any sign of lag. Again, why Nokia didn’t have any booths with actual tethered handsets we could play around with, I don’t know. I know this event was all about convincing us the Windows Phone platform has its share of fun apps, but you need to convince the consumer to purchase the hardware first. A missed opportunity by Nokia I felt. Had they shown off their new Lumia handsets, I would have definitely blogged about it!
As I ate (the food was great by the way), I thought about more questions to ask Rajiv as this was an opportunity to ask a man who gets to play around the latest tech much before it reaches India’s shores. I went back to the hall and asked him if all the trips and expos he attends is paid for by NDTV or by the manufacturers (editorial integrity issue). He assured me for events like CES and IFA, his employer bears the cost – but for exclusive events by single electronics majors, he does accept the paid trips. With one strict condition… the final reviews are still up to him.
Realizing I had nothing else to ask, I said my goodbyes and wished both Rajiv and Vikas well. I really enjoyed the event. It was well organized, and the hosts (especially Rajiv) were excellent! Except for a few morons blurting out nonsense (indicative of the number of wine glasses on their table), the hosts handled the crowd very well.
It’s only while I was driving back when I had a “D’oh” realization that I forgot to ask Rajiv about the Surface tablet. You see, when I travel I carry my laptop mainly for creating daily back-ups of all the photos I take on my travels. That and to check e-mails, do research, are the only reason I bear with the additional 3kgs I lug around in my backpack. I have been looking for a tablet that could serve the very same purpose (for which it has to come with USB detection support) and hopefully reduce the overall weight of my bag. Sigh, I should have asked him :-/
None the less, I’m glad I went for my first ever IndiBlogger meet. It was loads of fun and nice to see how active the blogging community is, especially in Bangalore. Can’t wait for the next one!