The walking metamorphosis of the smartphone market

Raul Seixas is a Brazilian rock’n’roller who is very dear to me and to a large number of fans, even though he departed in 1989 at a relatively young age (although he claimed in a song to have been born ten thousand years ago, he was 43 when he died). He wrote a number of songs that are important classics in Brazilian pop culture, and some of his lines became popular expressions. One of them is “walking metamorphosis” (metamorfose ambulante).

And why on Earth am I talking about Raul?? Well, often when I read articles about the smartphone market, (take this Engadget editorial for example…) I think of Raul, because many people seem obsessed with the idea that any smartphone platform must fight to conquer the largest market share they can. People think platforms with few users and developers must dwindle and face extinction, and large platforms must grow more and more until it becomes a monopoly. Peoplpe are aways talking about winning a war, like if you are a user of a certain platform you must kill the other users, rape their wives and enslave their kids. But I always ask: “is it really unimaginable a certain platform can be viable even though it has just a few users…” For example, isn’t it really possible a company might keep selling a certain cool niche device to just 10.000 or 100.000 people?… What happened to that long tail thing?

I see a lot of people trying to tell other people what to do, what to think, how to work. I hate that. I have a much more “personal” point of view, if not _egoistic_. I only care about how I want to do things. The perfect device to me is very much personalized, is something that works like I want. If the company decides to make a change I’m not OK with, I just drop it. I don’t care about other users, nothing. I do understand it’s cool to be part of a large ecosystem. But I have a number convictions that I will follow, and I don’t like to be told by others to conform to something else in order to fit into a large and homogeneous group. That is not far from fascism, really.

When I face this kind of thing, I immediately think about the shoe with size number 37, from a Raul Seixas song. “Shoe number 37” to me is an expresison that explains all of that. So when I go to the forums to drop my dosage of trollness, I would love if I could just explain like this: “here you are wanting me to wear a shoe number 37 again”. But unfortunately Raul is not well known abroad, and this part of the Walking Metamorphosis song is not even very known except by Raul fans.

So I decided to paste the lyrics here, and include a translation into English, hoping to spread awareness about the shoe number 37 fable. I hope you appreciate, and forgive me if the translation (performed with help from Google) doesn’t seem very nice. But it is unfortunately really hard to translate Raul, as it happenes to all great poets. But the general idea is there… Just imagine a very hippy looking rock musician singing this and it will probably look right in the end. By the way, Brazilian shoe size 37 is U.S. male size 7. Well, here is the story,

Men have created absolute laws that are intended to cover everyone,
without knowing that everybody is different from one another.
They invented the shoe number 37.
The shoe number 37,
without knowing that every foot is different from one another.
Everyone has to put on the shoe 37.
And you wear the shoe,
and the shoe creates a callus
and the callus transforms into a wound,
and the wound transforms into hatred,
and the hatred transforms into aggression,
then you explode,
hit the ceiling,
get back to the ground,
the ground is the limit,
and it starts all over again.
You must know you should not have any formed opinion about everything.
You must leave the windows open to let the wind inside,
because there are many exits and you only know one.
I rather be this walking metamorphosis than having that old formed opinion on everything.

And the original Portuguese version…

Os homens criaram leis absolutas que pretendem cobrir a todo mundo,
sem saber que todo mundo é diferente um do outro.
Inventaram o sapato número 37.
O sapato número 37,
sem saber que cada pé é diferente um do outro.
Todo mundo tem que calçar o sapato 37.
E você calça o sapato,
e o sapato cria calo,
e o calo se transforma em ferida,
e a ferida se transforma em ódio,
e o ódio se transforma em agressão,
aí você explode,
bate no teto,
volta pro chão,
do chão não passa,
e começa tudo de novo.
Você precisa saber que não deve ter nenhuma opinião formada sobre tudo.
Você deve deixar as janelas abertas para o vento entrar,
porque existem várias saídas e você só conhece uma.
Eu prefiro ser essa metamorfose ambulante do que ter essa velha opinião formada sobre tudo.


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