Orchestra of obsolete cellphones celebrate the approach of death

Originally published at: Orchestra of obsolete cellphones celebrate the approach of death | Boing Boing


Ask not for whom the telephone bell tolls…


I am surprised this end date is so far away, and they are already celebrating it. March 2026 seems like ages from now.

The ad does a fantastic job celebrating the phone culture, with realistic portrayal of the phones in daily life.

I remember seeing these phones everywhere in Japan in 2001, thinking they were so advanced from the texting phones we had at the time. iPhone only came on the scene in 2007, that also seems like forever ago.

I loved all the Docomo i-Mode demo phones you could find at every phone vendor display, I had a friend in Japan collect a few of them for me and send them to me. Then I too became bored with them and donated them to a toybox somewhere on earth.

I was surprised to learn that i-mode was in fact exported around the world, but slow global development of new handsets for the standard outside of Japan hampered the success of the product. Also I think a good amount of anti-competition was at play, with other global phone makers jockeying for their own technologies.

You can read about it here:


Worth repeating, this is a fantastic ad.


Is there already a sci-fi dystopia where ‘graduation’ is the aseptic euphemism for what happens to people the master control computer deems to be surplus to requirements; or does someone need to fix that?


It will take another few years to convince granny to finally give up that feature phone that “works perfectly well for me, dear.”


Iain M Banks coined Sublimation, in another context.

Subliming is a process that allows a civilization to transfer the consciousness of its individual members (biological and/or artificial) from the material universe that we experience to another plane of existence.

These phones are sublime in this existence.


Rant alert:

Yeah, THIS! It really pisses me off when perfectly functional technology is made non-functional just because there is now some new shiny-shiny. App developers on the Apple platform piss me off by just not letting old versions carry on working, when they make a new one - rendering older iPhones useless just because they are stuck on an older iOS and cannot run the version the new app demands.

And don’t get me started on BT in the UK telling us that copper cable phones will no longer work, as they move to phone over internet - a phone service that WILL NOT WORK in a power outage, when one is most likely to need an emergency service.

/end short rant that could have been longer but I’m just so tired of this shit!

ETA and something about lawns, too! :wink:


“Carousel” from Logan’s Run comes to mind.

renew sci-fi GIF


To be fair, this seems to be driven more by a network infrastructure change that affects devices from all manufacturers. Still, there should be some provision for backward compatibility in the kind of situation you describe.

Here’s an interesting article I read the other day about a less critical (but still meaningful to many) technology being rendered unusable by larger changes and a lack of proper maintenance.


My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time-


What struck me about this most was that so many people and institutions were dependent on it but had no idea of where it came from or how it was provided or maintained. Imagine if each of them had donated or were to subscribe say $50 or $100 a year (surely it is worth at least that much if not a lot more to them) how it might have been possible for this to have been moved to an operational basis that would have ensured its ability to continue. Surely it is not too late for a small group of its users to grab it and preserve it? Once they have, surely they could establish a ‘commercial’ (not for profit) model to enable it to go forward?

I don’t know what the answer is or what the moral of this story is but some strange version of a phrase with the words commons and tragedy is lurking just out of reach.

ETA I see from later in the article the source code machine may have disappeared. Awful.


There is a crime, alright. But no fitting punishment, it seems, except for those the crime is perpetrated against.

1 Like

a bit of the old Ludwig van to sharpen us up for the murder of 2G.


Yup. This needs a lot more publicity because people in very rural areas with patchy mobile coverage at best are going to be cut off because of their patchy electrical grid.


Having a ‘real’ landline was useful for us during the last major hurricane here. We finally switched to fiber when the phone company changed the topology so that even our traditional line would stop working in a power outage.

AT&T is phasing out 3G right now, I had to replace my old Nokia Windows phone which was pretty much perfect for me. The iPhone which I bought is vastly inferior. My wife, on T-Moble, has a few months left before she has to replace her feature phone, of which she’s very fond. Newer phones have lots of great features if you’re using the device as a camera/computer/game console, but if all you want is good voice sound quality, good range, and long battery life (with a user-replaceable battery) the older phones were at least as good.


Sadly, that ship sailed years ago in most of the US. In my state, there were lawsuits against the phone company for neglecting and damaging existing lines to force customers into using fiber optic solutions. They glossed over issues with alarm and monitoring systems that had to be upgraded. In my area, they sold cellular solutions with battery backup to homeowners as replacements. They probably suggest satellite phones to people who live in cellular dead zones now. :woman_shrugging:t4:

Maybe some communications firms wanted to stop being classified as utilities, since those are regulated by states and have price controls. As ISPs, they can increase rates without requesting approval.


That too, having to go the expense and hassle of upgrading.

On an adjacent topic of sunsetting perfectly good tech for the seemingly hell of it shiny shiny of “progress”, what’s the situation with your stamps? We’re getting track and traceable stamps…



Ugh, this stamp “upgrade” sounds terrible!

oh hell no GIF
There are lots of seniors in the US who cling to low-tech solutions. Many were very pissed at being forced to use direct deposit for federal benefits. We’ve got a significant percentage of citizens classified as “unbanked,” and others who push back about things that used to be paid by check being paid in the form of debit cards.

There’s also been unprecedented GOP-led USPS Postmaster fuckery that we still haven’t completely fixed, but at least the funding has been improved. Those same folks I mentioned above would probably have a stroke if stamps got changed like this. I’m imagining “The death of obsolete cell phones” meets “The folks who don’t own or want smartphones and barely use email.” My father is one of them, and if I had a dollar for each time he complained that a customer service rep asked for a mobile number so a company could send him a text…

GIF by anotherround


Yeah. Progress can be good but not for the sake of it and especially not when people are forced on the “shitty technology adoption curve” (as Cory calls it) because they can’t access services any other way and therefore increasing their chances of getting scammed out of thousands. Just look at the recent Post Office scandal here to see just how catastrophically badly these systems can fuck up.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.