18 Feb 2017

China's ballpoint quest & the rise of the unsmart phone

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 18 February 2017

Is the "dumbphone" poised for a bit of a comeback? Also China's quest to build the perfect ballpoint pen and how the humble biro is being used by the NZ police to fight crime.

Macro close up of ball point pen showing beading of ink

Macro close up of ball point pen showing beading of ink Photo: (By Tim Denholm - Own work, CC BY 4.0,)

You've probably got at least ten in your home and your car. They're given away for free by hotels, airlines, banks and at conferences, and you only really notice them when they stop working.

But the humble ballpoint pen's being used by the police to fight crime here in New Zealand.

Also why is China, that modern manufacturing powerhouse, only just mastering the art of making reliable ballpoint pens? Bloomberg's Adam Minter has been writing about China's quest to build a better biro.

And remember the good old "feature phone"?! Back when your phone didn't pretend to be any smarter than you were: it just made calls and sent texts and did what you wanted it to when you wanted it.

With this week's news that Nokia is reviving its classic 3310 model, the feature phone is poised for a bit of a comeback.

Nokia 3310 with message

Nokia 3310 with message Photo: (Flickr user Asim Bijarani CC BY 2.0)