Update: the phone is back up for sale now, concluding the strangest 24 hours in New Zealand mobile handset sales so far this year.

If I’ve learnt one thing today it is this: PR is a quirky business.

Today, for reasons yet unknown, Vodafone NZ has completely removed the HTC Magic from sale in New Zealand. They’ve removed all mention of it from their website, and removed existing stock from store shelves.

Perhaps this is related: yesterday I took a few images down from this blog at the request of Vodafone PR. This image was one of them:

GoogleLogoPainted

Let me be clear: I have absolutely no idea if the request to remove images of the HTC Magic launch party, and the removal of the HTC Magic from sale are related. You can make your own conclusions about that.

Why did I take them down? Here’s where I put my balls on the line and apologise to my readers. I took them down because Vodafone PR offered a quid-pro-quo, that I quite incorrectly accepted. I apologise wholeheartedly to my readers. It’s not good enough. It won’t happen again. If there is a next time, I will thoroughly question PR motives before complying.

There was no restriction on photography at the event. I wasn’t the only one taking photos. So to the best of my knowledge I have every right to publish the photos.

Added: At the time and soon after the party, a couple of people commented on the usage of Google trademark and that it seemed a bit dodgey.

Couple more images after the jump:

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58 Comments

  1. LOL, I took 100’s of photos at the event that are yet to go online … OMG famous people I just had to get my photo taken with them all.

  2. Dan2, they mean ‘famous’ as in ‘regularly featured in the society pages of the Saturday Herald’. Internet superstardom and Rock Band prowess doesn’t count.

  3. @Benedict_x No, I’m categorically not saying that. I was never told why the photos should be taken offline. It was suggested I should ask no questions.

    I can only assume. Why else would they want them taken down, at a time so closely related to the withdrawal of the Magic?

  4. On the night, at the party.. I looked at the Google girl and thought two things…
    1. That’s a surprisingly good rendition of Google Maps.
    2. I am amazed that Google is cool with it’s logo being painted on a naked woman. There’s no f’ing way that Apple would be down for such a thing.

  5. Chris :I can’t help but think this whole “story” is a storm in a tea cup.

    Sure,
    But its relatively unususal for a new product to completely disappear with no explanation.
    So we get to invent our own.
    Fun!
    🙂

  6. Dylan Reeve :

    On the night, at the party.. I looked at the Google girl and thought two things…1. That’s a surprisingly good rendition of Google Maps.2.

    Just needed to check some coordinates huh?
    Guess it’s a good thing she wasn’t painted as a phone…with touchscreen! 🙂

    I am amazed that Google is cool with it’s logo being painted on a naked woman. There’s no f’ing way that Apple would be down for such a thing.

    True…a bodypainted Steve Jobs is too awful to contemplate!

    (Mind you, a black tutleneck paintjob wouldn’t be terribly controversial)

  7. I am constantly amazed at various geeks always going on about there “not being a story” or “storm in a teacup” for just about anything. Like Rob_nz says, the Magic’s gone and very probably because someone at Google didn’t like those nudie pics. No more already. Is that not a story?

    Reminds me of a reader complaint I got once because I didn’t accurately quote a press release, which was “the official word” on the matter and “the real news”. FFS.

  8. I know Vodafone has a reputation for having sexy staff parties, but it surprised me that they were using naked women to promote cellphones at a product launch. That sort of crap belongs at Big Boys Toys.

  9. Well, it’s not the first time for VFNZ.

    I recall a certain VF staff Xmas party at the Civic many years ago with topless thai table dancers…

    They got a fair bit of flak as I recall!

    (VF, that is, not the dancers….crap, you know what I mean!) 🙂

  10. @Juha
    How can you say the product-pull is “very probably because someone at Google didn’t like those nudie pics.”? That’s totally absurd and based on nothing but peurile rumour. Why don’t we wait for some facts to surface> I find it utterly implausible that a phone would be pulled because of some small-time launch party tomfoolery.

    Like I said, storm in a teacup. This will wind up being something totally mundane.

  11. And frankly, I don’t give a rats what the reason is, I just want the phone back, so I can find out what it will cost on my corporate plan and make a decision re purchase.

    The specualtion is fun, but the situation is frstrating.

  12. Ben :Look, if this is a storm in a teacup, is it not PR 101 to come out with the real reason to quash all tu speculation?

    As I posted elswewhere, ‘Silent running’ is the mode you go into when you are being hunted with Sonar and depth charges.

  13. @Chris
    Here’s a fact for you, I have a recording made this morning of a Vodafone staffer saying “there’s nothing wrong with [the HTC Magic], there’s been some political problems with our agreement with google.”

    That’s a direct quote.

    Supply chain problems are not political, technical glitches are not political… You know what would be a political problem? Photos of naked girls plastered with Google logos.

    It is possible that it’s got nothing to do with the party, but if it is something innocent Brislen is completely cocking up the spin on this one.

  14. @Rob_nz
    Nah, you don’t want the phone, I’ve played with one – jerky, and the screen routinely missed touches. It’s not where it needs to be, and just doesn’t compare to the iPhone in terms of butteriness – either in physical heft, or in UI.

  15. @Juha
    No, like everyone else here I don’t know what happened, hence I’m the one telling you idiots to show some restraint. Then again, you’re the ones who will wind up with egg of your faces, so what do I care?

    @Morgan
    I disagree – my phone arrived yesterday, and it’s a huge upgrade from my iphone. I love it.

  16. @Chris

    So you don’t know what happened?

    Chris :
    @Juha
    That’s totally absurd and based on nothing but peurile rumour.
    Why don’t we wait for some facts to surface> I find it utterly implausible that a phone would be pulled because of some small-time launch party tomfoolery.
    Like I said, storm in a teacup. This will wind up being something totally mundane.

    That to me says “I know what happened. You don’t.” Clearly you should be the editor and publisher and journalist, because you know a huge amount and can do the job so much better. Do you want an email address to send your CV to?

  17. @Juha
    Calling a rumour what it is isn’t the same as making an unverified claim. I specifically said that I don’t know and neither do you, so let’s stop the rumour mill and wait for the facts. You post implied that you are in fact a journalist, which helps explain the worrying state of journalism in this country. Me, no, I have a real job.

  18. @chris

    I disagree – my phone arrived yesterday, and it’s a huge upgrade from my iphone. I love it.

    Presuming you’re talking about the HTC Magic, either you have a 1st gen iPhone, or you are on some brilliant drugs.
    Huge upgrade it is not.

  19. Something has occurred to me. You know what would be wonderful? If the problem here was that Google had discovered Vodafone NZ’s appalling data & calling charges, which would also explain why Vodafone have shown such unwillingness to talk about the matter.

  20. @Chris
    Obviously, you know more than anyone else and thus, are able to pass judgement not just on the story itself but also on the state of journalism in this country. And you have a real job. It’s a huge loss to NZ journalism not to have your services, but I can understand that such a lowly profession would be well beneath your.

    Why not try for something better, like the Omnipotent Most Exalted Emperor of the South Pacific?

  21. @Rob_nz It costs the same (give or take a couple of bucks) if ya buy it without a plan.

    I understand however. To each his own.
    The chin is kinda American Dad-ish but it’s there because of the mouse.
    If I do get the Hero I might put mine up for sale and
    give ya a msg to see if yr interested.

  22. Chris,

    No offence intended, but we KNOW this is all speculation!

    I’m not a journalist (nor do I play one on TV)

    I’m just having fun in the absence of any official information.

    It’s the nature of vacuums to be filled.

    *Rubs hands*

    oooh! the price angle hadn’t ocurred to me!

    After all the VF Magic is virtually free on a plan elsewhere..

  23. @benedict_x
    Cool! Thanks.

    I get a phone subsidy and corp disc, tho, so buying on term is actually cheaper for me than outright purchase.

  24. I vote that everyone who disagrees in this comment thread get painted, jump in a pool of Jello and duke it out geek-on-geek.

  25. Nah, the Church of St Steve will have a mass celebrating all things ‘i’ at the Cathedral, whereupon the faithful shall gather to be willingly relieved of their savings..

    Yea and verily.

    (Just don’t drink the Cool Aid) 😀

  26. @Ben
    No, course it isn’t an upgrade. Being able to receive twitter in the *background* isn’t better. Being able to receive email in the *background* isn’t better. Being able to synchronize tasks with Remember the Milk in the *background* isn’t better. My *blackberry* 8830 is more useful than an iPhone, which is just screen candy. I considered getting an iPhone, and then decided I didn’t want my user experience to go backwards 10 years – if I wanted a game platform I’d just get a PSP.

    And the comment about the scrolling – iPhone is just the same unless you bit-blit the scroll image to the screen. Smooth scrolling on the iPhone is a development nightmare.

  27. @RichardV
    As someone who has actually developed smooth scrolling views for the iPhone I disagree.

    It’s not a development nightmare, it’s not hard, and it should be considered as important to fix UI faults as it is fixing functional faults. The beauty of the iPhone is that the developers care about making a good user experience. Everything else is broken by design until they realise that.

  28. I was going to say the same thing Karl. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised byt the amount of UI sex that the iPhone SDK includes by default. You can really see the attention to detail that has gone into that, as opposed to say XML parsing.

    The latter is annoying to have to code, but unless you really screw it up it’s not going to affect the user experience.

    Compare that to coding for S60, where you *would* have to manually double-buffer your scrolls, and forget any 3D flipping effects.

  29. Interesting…

    http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/tech/FB2A17A17CDBF4FECC2575EB000024AE

    http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/devt/9B5D2EF276931B6DCC2575EB0006ADED

    I think there is a lot potential for Android in its agility. If improvements keep coming at a rapid pace, then hopefully it will build the development ecosystem.

    Don’t forget it’s only a year or so old, but the 3rd release is almost here. (2.0 – Donut)

    Now that the installed base is nearly 2 1/4 million between the Dream and the Magic, hopefully the momentum is there.

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