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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 16 September, 2014

Nick Leeson: Here’s why I won’t be buying into the iPhone 5…

…and it has a lot to do with my bad memories of The Brick. My wife on the other hand…

Nick Leeson

WEDNESDAY, 12 September 2012 was a day that was greatly anticipated in many quarters. From the first day that rumours started about the launch of the new iPhone, technology and gadget geeks couldn’t resist speculating on how the new phone would look, what it could do and how much faster it could be.

Now, I freely admit that technology and I do not exactly go hand in hand but I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. After the launch, as I remained totally disinterested, tens of thousands of early buyers once again slammed servers and brought down online stores.

I put my lack of interest down to three things.

Firstly I’ve always found it easier to ask someone how to do something than actually try and work it out myself – I annoy each of my three children in equal measure with this particular form of torture.

Secondly, I was a guest of the Singaporean Government and their penal system between 1995 and 1999, a period when a lot of technological advances really kicked in – leaving me further from the cutting edge than ever before.

“There was very little ‘mobile’ about my first phone”

And finally, I still have memories of my first mobile phone; there was very little ‘mobile’ about it, it weighed a ton and it was a pain in the backside.

Unlike, the new, sleek iPhone5, there was no chance of it fitting in your pocket. It was a company phone, a Motorola I think – I don’t think it had a ‘name’. I was very busy losing £862m of Barings money but had managed to take some time off to visit friends and family in London. The senior management at Barings were worried that having me in London would mean limited money-making opportunities in Singapore, so they provided me with the most up-to-date, efficient phone on the market so that I could continue to trade and make money whilst back in England! As if.

It was a brick. It looked like a brick, it weighed at least as much as two bricks stuck together and had the portability of a brick. I spent a lot of time playing golf while I was on holiday; the brick was my constant companion. I can visualise arriving at the London Golf Club on a frosty December morning, ready to tee off and having to hire a buggy. I used to prefer to walk the golf course but there wasn’t any chance with this phone.

For those of a younger generation, it was twice the height of your hand, the battery made up at least 75 per cent of the phone and it must have weighed 2-3kgs at least. The buggy wasn’t for me, or for the golf clubs: it was for the phone! I have no doubt that a similar size battery can now provide electricity to a small village somewhere; the carbon footprint must have been immense

Not only was it cumbersome but it meant that I was always supposed to be contactable. Whereas what I really wanted to do was bury my head in the sand, this contraption meant that I was on constant call to the powers that be. At night I’d be in a deserted office in 8 Bishopsgate, the office opened specifically for me so that I could still continue to trade the Japanese markets. One screen among hundreds would be flickering into the early hours of the morning. Pitch black outside, a cleaner hoovering around the desks and my mobile phone and I sat at a desk.

“I only ever saw it as an invasion of my private hell”

I often thought that I should just pick it up and launch it through the window and let it fall the eight storeys, clattering to the ground. The cleaner thought it was fantastic and would look at it in amazement; I only ever saw it as an invasion of my private hell, one that I was trying to keep quiet.

The iPhone 5 sports a four-inch ‘retina’ screen that displays a sharper image. It can run on high-speed 4G LTE wireless networks and is 20 per cent lighter than the iPhone 4S. Most of that makes very little sense to me but I do understand the last part; that makes the new iPhone 5 99 per cent lighter than my brick, so it can’t all be bad.

My wife has an iPhone and she loves it. So what does this launch of the new iPhone 5 really mean to me? The answer is a certain amount of anxiety as I work out how to get my hands on one for her, a couple of hundred euro for the upgrade and the knowledge that there is definitely going to be a
6, S GT or Turbo model being unveiled in 12 months’ time.

Hats off to Apple though – as many as 33 million iPhones are expected to be sold this quarter, the share price rose nearly two per cent on Thursday in heavy trading and every broker has raised their targets for the share price.

Me, I’m going to go and see where I left that brick!

Read: This is what I wish for my daughter>

Read other columns by Nick Leeson>

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