Microsoft & Nokia vs. Indian magazine, over Lumia 800 review

Since going on sale a few weeks ago, Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows Phone has been widely praised by tech journalists and across the wider blogosphere. With few exceptions, those that have used the device have come away impressed; those that have reviewed it in depth tend to have few negatives to highlight.

There is, of course, no definitive way to write a review, and you will inevitably find some that are better than others. Here at Neowin, we try to be thorough and objective in our reviews (check out our recent reviews for the Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich if you haven’t already), but not everyone does a review like we do. In fact, a recent review by Indian financial magazine Moneylife of the Lumia 800 not only stood as a good example of how not to professionally assess a product, but also sparked off an unusual war of words between the journal, Microsoft and Nokia.

The defining flaw in Moneylife’s review was not its damning verdict of the device, but that the reviewer had somehow reached his conclusions without having seen or used the phone in person. In fact, as The Guardian points out, the review was based solely on a comparison of the Lumia 800’s technical specs alongside those of Samsung’s Galaxy S Plus.

Without having so much as touched a Lumia handset, Yogesh Sapkale delivered his assessment of its performance and viability in the market:

Although Nokia sees its Lumia 800 to be a competitor to Apple iPhone, it is nowhere near the niche product. In fact, compared with iPhone, the Lumia 800 can be termed as ‘noPhone’.” [sic]

Some of the more discerning readers of Moneylife.in voiced their displeasure over the poor quality of the review, leaving their comments on the page. One commenter, calling himself Harish, wrote:

What an crap review!! it's one of the best phone available, iphone is so dumb compared to this…. Guess some one is paying you lumpsum, congrats..” [sic]

Harish’s IP address was logged by the site as 192.100.117.41 – which, it later emerged, belongs to Nokia India. Another critical comment came from a user called Aditya Agrawal:

dude, gone are the times when actual consumers just use to care about the technical specificiations of mobiles. today, people want devices which are beautiful, fast and easy-to-use. for most of the consumers, it does not matter if the phone has 512mb or 1gb ram. if the 512mb performs better in real-life, that’t the one customers are gonna prefer. just a small advice, go to a store and use windows phone 7.5 for 10 mins, the last thing you will care is whether phone has a single or a dual core.” [sic]

An enthusiastic defence of the platform from one of its passionate fans? Well… it turns out that Agrawal posted from the IP address 207.46.55.31, a Microsoft address apparently based in Redmond.  

It was, incidentally, the review’s author who published the IP addresses of these users to highlight the murky nature of apparent Microsoft and Nokia employees stepping in to make these comments without openly declaring their interests. Sapkale in fact published a follow-up article to the original review on the Moneylife site, in which he attempted to justify the unsatisfactory nature of his assessment by emphasising the price-sensitive nature of the Indian market.

His justification implied that Indian consumers – by nature of wishing to choose carefully where to spend their “hard earned money” – are content to embrace the product recommendations of people who haven’t even used the product and are just comparing spec sheets. Sapkale didn’t do himself any favours by attempting to shift the focus of users’ disparagement away from him and onto Microsoft and Nokia; in fact, in publishing both the IP and email addresses of the commenters, he actually violated his own site’s privacy policy.

This may well explain why both the original review – and Sapkale’s follow-up article, Nokia Lumia 800: Why the noPhone review draws ire only from Nokia and Microsoft – have now disappeared from the Moneylife site completely (although at time of writing, they’re still indexed on the site by the Google-powered search).

As The Guardian rightly points out, both sides have come out looking a bit silly here. Moneylife obviously looks incredibly shoddy, both for the poor quality of the original review, and for flawed editorial policies that allowed the reviewer to publish a petulant supplementary article. But Nokia and Microsoft both have some egg on their faces too, potentially appearing like they were trying to manipulate public opinions with ‘planted’ comments – the last thing the companies need in the midst of a huge PR campaign to launch the Lumia Windows Phones in India.

For now, at least, it looks like the dust has settled.

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just because an IP came from a MS range doesn't mean it's MS, heck I was DoSed from a Microsoft IP range a month ago... wasn't from MS though, they do lease out and resell space on their ranges through cloud and other services.....

neufuse said,
just because an IP came from a MS range doesn't mean it's MS, heck I was DoSed from a Microsoft IP range a month ago... wasn't from MS though, they do lease out and resell space on their ranges through cloud and other services.....

Good point. And even if it was someone at Microsoft, it likely had nothing to do with the company...

Keep telling yourselves that It looks like Microsoft's astroturfing has been exposed once again.

I wonder how many ip's of users of this site originate from Redmond too?

Joey S said,
Keep telling yourselves that It looks like Microsoft's astroturfing has been exposed once again.

I wonder how many ip's of users of this site originate from Redmond too?

Troll harder.

Joey S said,
Keep telling yourselves that It looks like Microsoft's astroturfing has been exposed once again.

I wonder how many ip's of users of this site originate from Redmond too?

I wonder if Neowin should just screw him and post his IP here...

Enron said,

Troll harder.

It's hardly fair to belittle his trolling attempts... Joey S puts a tremendous amount of effort and pride in these ridiculous posts...

How do you write a review about something (Anything) without ever actually using it yourself? It defies logic and makes you look rather lazy... :?

NinjaGinger said,
Did he use to work for 'News of the World'

Haha NOW made my Sundays extra special. They used to do a Jordan special every week.

I totally agree with Andy. Sadly, the so called "tech reviewers" in India does their part of the job without even having a hands-on. I have noticed many a time that the review of a gadget will be a personal opinion rather than an actuall technology wise deep test.. just 2 or 3 pros and cons. Youtube gives a far more better reviews than these, coz the person would have had used it. I checked Sapkale's review on the site under Commentary section and found it silly that his name is not showing up in the site listings!!! even under the Archive. Secondl, i dont know why a Financial Site has to give a commentary or review on a Tech phone??? Might be an investment help? i mean, do you really think a investment help is required iton buy a phone? I need these features in my phone and I like this product, as simple as that. Ask me me, I have both an Android and a Windows phone (6.5 though) and im so happy with it...

Is there hard evidence of this or are we supposed to take his word on it that those are the IP's that posted? If your flawed article is being criticised, why not make up some BS to defend it?

And Neowin didn't do any good either in publishing their IP addresses.....no matter how prevalent they must be on web at this point in time!.....

I'd also remove the IP addresses from the Neowin posting.

Could be that these guys were just defending something they might have worked quite hard on. I doubt Ballmer and Elop were standing behind them saying "oh that looks good, PUSH THE BUTTON!".

I am not sure what is the problem with Microsoft and Nokia replying to the article; this post makes it sound as if they did something to trick people. And yes if 80% of the Windows Phone haters actually used one before they commented/critisized then they would realised that they have no clue. A friend of mine who is an android fan boy send me a link that M$ created a bing app for android and iphone and not for WP. My reply to that was: dude if you actually used a WP7.x you would of noticed that bing is integrated into the OS.

Hey Neowin. How about stretching out beyond your "unprofessional journalism" moniker. And do a REAL story about IP addresses, and who has access to them. How about an indepth and thoroughly researched story on how long an ISP keeps your IP records and who is able to access them. The Govt? The Police?

I'm not joking here, I see this as the real story that people need facts on. Sure it's like a phone number and maybe it's no big deal. But most peoples phone calling habits done' often get published on the internet. Thats your story. Go to town. If not you then how about The Verge? I will email them now.

I am from NOKIA and our Lumia Phone is the best phone in the world evar! Your review was crap.

I am from MS and everyone who uses Windows Phone 7 Mobile really likes it. Your review was crap.

The Nokia dude's comment does come off as a little fanatical but the Microsoft dude's comment, planted or not, still seems to be sound logical advice ... kudos to the Microsoft dude ...

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