I was walking through my local shopping centre yesterday afternoon, hunting down a dry-cleaners I knew was there but I knew not where, when I passed the Crazy Johns shop.
What to my wondering eye should appear but a hastily printed flyer stapled to the front of their catalogue, advertising the immediate availability of the Nokia N97 Mini.
Yes, those callous, casually cruel bastards from Espoo have finally condescended to launch the Mini in Australia, months (it only feels like years) after the rest of the world.
The Mini is the N97 with most of the bugs fixed. Slightly smaller, it lacks the camera shutter cover (which sounds like a step backwards, except the original N97 design scratched its own lens) and the largely superfluous (it's a touch-screen!) directional D-pad next to the keyboard. It's comparable in size to my N95 - slightly slimmer, slightly taller, massively bigger screen, proper QWERTY keypad, hardware two generations further on, software at least two generations further on.
And now it's available in Australia.
It was, in fact, so new that the latest catalogue needed an update stapled to the front. It was, in fact, so new that the bloke I spoke to left work on Friday not knowing that it would be there when he arrived on Monday. It was so new that, as I type, it doesn't even appear on their website. It was so new that when I asked them if they had a demo model, he pulled out a box and turned on a proper one, because they didn't have one of those fake models they stick to the wall with elastic for customers to hold and say "Yes, that's a phone, with buttons." Which was nice.
You see, this is why I'm mad:
I'm paying $49/month to Vodafone. Thanks to Vodafone recently rejigging their bill (long overdue, I may add, and just did), I have been able to determine that the reason I need to pay $49, for $350 worth of "value", instead of $29, for $150 worth of "value", is data charges. I am being charged more for mobile data, which I use sparingly, than I am for SMS messages and calls.
Which means, I calculated, having been prompted to do so by my nearest and dearest getting an E71 on a $29 plan (for which I may yet forgive her), that I can replace $49/month with $29/month plus a $5/month data bundle.
Which makes $34, which is $15/month less than the two-year contract I have nearly reached the end of.
This makes me slightly sore but hey, two years ago I got an N95 for nothing, so I can't complain too much (N.B.: Some people say that it is actually, long-term, a better idea to buy a phone outright and go on the best month-to-month plan/prepaid for you. Quite apart from the fact that I couldn't have afforded an N95 when I got it - not in this case, it wasn't. I got the better of this deal).
I could, at the same price, get an N97 Mini which is, let's be honest, worth at least twice as much as an N95 would be if were new, now.
Or, I could buy any phone I liked (a friend has an Android Motorola Milestone - touch-screen, sliding QWERTY, 5MP camera - which he will sell me for $600 when he gets a different model that works on Telstra's NextG HSDPA network), and pay less, per month.
You see, this is why I hate Nokia. Not because they've made such a very desirable piece of kit available cheaper than I had any right to expect, but because they've made my life difficult.
Plus, there's this:
$49/month, for 24 months, is $1176, which is not much more than the phone's worth.
$34/month, for 24 months, is $816. The difference, you will see immediately, is $360. Which is not what the Milestone would cost me, or indeed anything else capable of replacing an N95. Unless I get really lucky on eBay.
Yet, please note, I'm not sure I want another Symbian device. I may want to play with Android for a while. I may want to explore a different ecosystem that is not driven by a company I personally don't trust to build services or developer communities, no matter how competent and even brilliant they may be at designing the devices.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I have taken a deep and abiding dislike of Nokia, for this week.
Stay tuned for some musings and thoughts on the N97 Mini itself.