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Reg mobile correspondent Bill Ray hangs up his Vulture hat

Not-spot-swatting*, robot lawn-slasher-building** Vulture leaves the nest

It's Friday afternoon and my last day as a reporter for The Register. After well over 4,000 articles, and seven years, I'm hanging up my hack's mac and filing away my Press card.

I'm not jumping ship to The Telegraph or taking a seat at the New York Times as some of my colleagues have, partly because they never offered me the chance but mainly 'cos The Register is still the best technical news site in the world.

I've had enormous fun writing for The Reg, and I know that I'll leave a legacy of articles in the archive for future generations of writers (to laugh at).

Despite the thousands of articles, and being right on the money about various technologies (WiMAX and TransferJet leap to mind) I'll always be remembered as the man who said the iPhone would fail, and fail badly, but I'd hate to be remembered for that one article when I've made so many bigger mistakes than that.

"Mobile phones are not, and never will be, the open and truly flexible platform that desktop computers provide."

...I confidently predicted in June 2006, failing entirely to see the chaotic flexibility of most Android handsets, and forgetting that desktop computers might change too.

A year later, November 2007, I saw the future, and it was interactive...

"[Kindle] Readers will no longer be passive consumers of writing, but active participants able to annotate and add to the content, sharing their thoughts with the world"

So next time you see someone passively reading a book on a Kindle be sure to tell them they're using it wrong.

But it's not just the technology I got wrong, dates are something of a speciality, as I demonstrated in October 2011:

"We'd venture a guess that legal challenges will push the UK [4G] auction well into 2013, and that we won't get an LTE signal until 2014 at best."

Some things I got wrong, just not at the time when I wrote them:

"Squeezing [Wibree, aka Bluetooth LE] market down to watches and shoes surely makes it insignificant, and ironic, as sales of watches are dropping because people use their phones to tell the time."

That was in October 2006, and for a few years I was right on the money, but in 2013 there are a dozen "smart" watches with Bluetooth LE and runners are embarrassed to have shoes (not to mention socks) without a wireless connection.

In some instances I could still be right, though perhaps not for the right reasons, such as in July 2009 when I thought Chrome OS might just get a foothold despite its heritage in the Network Computer:

"This time the networks are more reliable and users are happier than ever to use networked storage and backup systems, so perhaps Chrome OS has come at just the right time."

But in some cases I was just wrong, enormously wrong, as in January 2010:

"[F]or the next few years at least [HD Voice will be] just another sticker for handset manufacturers to put on the boxes of their phones."

...And October last year...

"[Windows RT] manufacturers will again churn out hybrid devices that do it all, mostly by bolting keyboards onto touchscreen gadgets and turning them into slightly inferior laptops."

So when you remember my contribution to The Register don't just recall my insistence that the iPhone was going nowhere, I was wrong about so many things it would be a shame to pick out one example.

El Reg readers have never been shy about voicing their perspective on the opinions, and facts, we report. Correspondents used to get mail direct from readers, and I have a small pile of reader mails I'm keeping for the purposes of revenge, but these days we have a Comments section so anyone can jot down a thought for all to see, and it's those thoughts I'll probably miss most of all.

My colleagues will go on reporting the news, and keeping an eye out for a replacement wireless correspondent, but unless you happen to work for ABB then this is Bill, signing off. ®


* See here and ** here (Sub-Ed)

Bill forgot to mention the thing he is most famous for around the office, even more than the unfortunate iPhone augury. He was once privileged to overhear a couple of PR operatives for a large mobile operator discussing the best way to manage some unpalatable facts, believing themselves to be unheard. Having described the Register readership as "a bunch of techie nerds", "all geeks" and in some cases "muppets", one of them decided to pick up the phone and call Bill (little dreaming that he was already on the line).

"I'm not afraid of Bill Ray," she said.

But as it turned out, she should have been. - Ed

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