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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45 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

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 ...

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.

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 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.

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!".

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!.....

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?

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...

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.

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

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...

Now I have herd everything......how to do a review without even seeing the item concerned. It reminds reminds of what rubbish used to come out of microsoft watch blog site.

Caveman-ugh said,
Now I have herd everything......how to do a review without even seeing the item concerned. It reminds reminds of what rubbish used to come out of microsoft watch blog site.

Well at least that is a used to opposed to the is now. The clown is just proving the dumbing down of society.

I never knew we could write reviews even without viewing an actual device

Glad i don't subscribe to MoneyLife.

Kudos to Sapkale for tarnishing MoneyLife's image and credibility by publishing the IPs. I would definitely not employ him or whoever accepted that review for print.

psreloaded said,
I never knew we could write reviews even without viewing an actual device

Glad i don't subscribe to MoneyLife.

Kudos to Sapkale for tarnishing MoneyLife's image and credibility by publishing the IPs. I would definitely not employ him or whoever accepted that review for print.

+1. What a mess...

I'm especially mad at them for revealing IP addresses.

And I can't believe they got all this PR? They don't deserve it with behaviour like this.
I hope their fame is short-lived.

FMH said,
I'm especially mad at them for revealing IP addresses.

And I can't believe they got all this PR? They don't deserve it with behaviour like this.
I hope their fame is short-lived.

Well, on the plus side, I don't think it was good PR... lol

Vista is so better than Windows 7. We Indians, always prefer products with higher internal specifications, no matter how crappy their performance is.

I am calling BS on this Sapkale fellow all along. I don't believe a word of his claims that the comments were posted by Microsoft or Nokia. There's no proof for it, it's against the site's own policies and it's just a diversionary tactic to move blame from his own terrible reviewing philosophy. Judging by the site pulling these articles, I think there's nothing to look at here. In short, it was a useless review, those comments were just your normal fanboys and the claims that they were Nokia employees were bogus. Obviously the site webmaster realized these and pulled the links and possible fired the Sapkale fellow.

Well, I don't think that the comments on the review have something to do with the companies themselves. It seems more likely to me that those are just some ****ed off engeneers* which have read an commented the blog during worktime (or lunch;) [especially the first quoted one] because it doesn't seem like a professional fud campain as we have seen it before.

*I could understand them. If you're working on a good product for a very long time and then some journalists judging it without owning it.

I agree - but the broader perception, especially for the casual reader swayed by the opinions of the moron reviewer, may well have been that this was all about MS/Nokia FUD brought on by sour grapes from a negative review.

Even though he only presented evidence that two MS/Nokia staffers had commented, the title of his second article implies that all of the negative comments (and from The Guardian's account, it seems there were many) were from the two companies: "why the noPhone review draws ire *only* from Microsoft and Nokia", as though no-one else with a brain cell might also object to a review being written by someone who hadn't used the product.

I'm certainly with you on this, though - it was most likely just a couple of staff frustrated by the arrogance and stupidity of the reviewer, and I'm sure that when they commented, they didn't imagine for a moment that their IP/email addresses would be tracked, published and unfairly used against them and their companies.

It's long been a knee jerk assumption on the internet that if an opinion comes from an employee of a company, it's because that employee's company put him up to it, and not because it's how he genuinely feels.

Joshie said,
It's long been a knee jerk assumption on the internet that if an opinion comes from an employee of a company, it's because that employee's company put him up to it, and not because it's how he genuinely feels.

...as inaccurate as that likely is...

M_Lyons10 said,
...as inaccurate as that likely is...
Exactly. I have never understood that logic. No company is paying its engineers to go post on crappy websites, and at least the second comment (Microsoftie) appears to be a more-engineering-minded person.

Why is it not more likely that employees work on the products and like the products, and therefore self-promote the products? Besides, the review was so stupidly ignorant that it does not make any company look bad for its employees to discredit it, whether by name or not. Besides, declaring association suggests representation, when, most likely, both individuals were posting through their own volition.

This reviewer is just a moron, and it appears that he is too stupid to even realize how stupid his entire post was to begin with. I don't care what product you're talking about, it's ridiculous to post a review without having even touched it; I hope he is not adding his genes to the pool.

It's an Indian magazine that I have never heard of, but talk about successfully destroying the credibility in one fell swoop.

chrilo said,
Well, I don't think that the comments on the review have something to do with the companies themselves. It seems more likely to me that those are just some ****ed off engeneers* which have read an commented the blog during worktime (or lunch;) [especially the first quoted one] because it doesn't seem like a professional fud campain as we have seen it before.

*I could understand them. If you're working on a good product for a very long time and then some journalists judging it without owning it.


exactly what I was thinking

raghavny80 said,
I read the neowin article and came to the same conclusion. But then I read the original article at http://moneylife.in/article/no...-go-miles-before/22244.html . Considering the author is admitting that he had not touched the Lumia 800 and is merely comparing the specs and prices; his review is 100% correct.

While that may be true... A couple things come into play which is why there is such the backlash. Basing it on specs alone is rather stupid. Example given as he mentioned some SUV sale cheap and people scooped it up based on specs... What about the quality of the device itself? Drop safe, Carl Zeiss camera and so on... His article is misleading, this is the problem with it entirely. Think of it this way you have two sports cars... If I reviewed both without driving either and just went on Horsepower numbers alone... You could look like quite the fool... What if you have two cars, both beautiful, fun, sporty just by looks... One has 500HP and the other has only 250HP. Well missing a critical performance factor such as... Weight? Imagine the 500HP car weighs 4000 lbs and the 250HP car weighs in at 1600 lbs... Is the Horsepower relevant there? Likely not as much since the 250HP car has less weight to move which in turn would mean it would be theoretically faster in all aspects. Also consider fuel efficiency, less weight to move, less power needed, less fuel needed... Better mileage. Where Android needs a quad core and 4GB of ram to not act as a laggy OS that is rather embarrassing. Why not build something efficient? Then in the future you may have a 400HP car weighing 1800 lbs... You only get that much faster over the slow bloated competition. These are the things so many people lack... They say over analyzing, I say make your point looking at all contributing factors before opening your mouth and being an arrogant fool.

As the saying goes...
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." -Mark Twain

This guy is a prime example. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially those who put their blood sweat and tears into creating a product only for some prick to make assumptions and broadcast a poor opinion on something he never actually had any experience with. We all know not to assume... Assumption is the mother of all **** ups. I can agree that some things are missing that we'd expect and will be coming soon, but the things you may not have are really irrelevant. You have a phone that makes calls, texts, facebooks, tweets, you name it... Oh and gorgeous pictures and video that is in its own class. If he had that phone would he not be able to function? I doubt it unless he truly is that inept (in this case it appears that way). I should open my own site and make reviews just based on one factor as well. Need a car? No problem it has 300HP... What do you mean you have more questions? All you need to know is it has more horsepower then the others so it is superior, so buy it! Get it?