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Nokia supposedly looking for new CEO

You might have noticed that the Wall street Journal is reporting that Nokia are actively searching for a new CEO to rejuvenate their past successes. A lot has been made after the reporting and apparently Nokia already have interviewed two candidates nothing has been confirmed yet but looking at the blogs and new sites today it seems like it is a reality.

Do Nokia really need a new CEO ???

Some Nokia investors have already said that Nokia needs a “Silicon Valley CEO” (complete utter nonsense BTW!!!)

Steal some executive from Apple, Google, Palm (John Rubenstein anyone ???) or Google  (maybe)

Someone from American that understands the American market well  apparently (maybe)

What pisses me off is that Americans think no Finnish person can run Nokia properly (are you eeffin kidding me !!!!) you don’t need an American CEO to be successful they have had tons of Finnish executives and had success in the past and some in the present (5800 is a sales success). Nokia didn’t become the worlds biggest handset manufacturer by luck it happened by hard work.

In my opinion Nokia doesn’t need a new CEO it will only delay plans with their roadmaps and future plans

Nokia need young fresh developers and designers from the outside who have lived the smartphone revolution since the iPhone launched in 2007 (BTW that could include Jay, Andre, Andy, Marc and ME !!!) alright joking aside I do mean it, there are bright people out there that could bring Nokia back to its glory days, they especially need people with software background as its the are they seem to be struggling most

What do you think ??? let us know in the comments

Poll: Does Nokia need to change their default icons and fonts? (#N8 #Symbian)

June 16, 2010 18 comments

S60 5th Edition - via N97

Symbian icons and fonts – does Nokia need to change them?

(Did you also know that YOU can change both icons and fonts easily with themes?)

Scroll at end or click here to vote at the poll

The Nokia N8 received rapturous applause in its multimedia prowess and strength of design. The resounding notion was that in hardware it was the cream of the crop, but in software, much improvement was still needed.

Annoyingly, many things that people dislike in Symbian^3 have been ironed out in Symbian^4. The layout has improved over S^3, less space wasting, the homescreen isn’t limited to panels, screen buttons are more conveniently placed etc.

Though there are many UI elements needing to be improved, one of the common issues people had with S60 5th Edition (and S60 in general) was the tired looking fonts and icons. Since these are consistent across all Nokia devices, including the upcoming Nokia N8, it immediately contributed to the perception that Symbian^3 is still dated looking.

These are subtle aspects but they do make great differences to the overall user experience.

The Font

This is from a previous post back in february

A font says a lot, though quite subtly, and so often overlooked.

The narrow Nokia font made sense in older phones when trying to conserve on pixel usage. But now we’ve got high res screens and can afford wider fonts, narrow, sharp fonts look much less appealing than their plumper, rounder counterparts.

The curviness of “Century Gothic” [Very similar to “Prelude”, used in Palm Pre I think] is often found in children’s books because of the emphasis on classic alphabet shapes and thus readability. Prelude is probably the best font at the moment being used on phones. The letters are very curved, a little more readable than Century Gothic (E.G. letter r), but less wasteful on character spacing.

We probably won’t see that font on a Nokia anytime soon, but it’s a step in the right direction that Nokia’s changing the font to something more pleasing to the eye.

Palm Pre font – considered the best by many for a smartphone.

The change is small yet highly influential to the overall user experience.

Most importantly however, this change is easy to make and you can do it yourself.

Symbian has always been on the forefront of customizability in themes. Find the right one and you can change the entire look of the phone.

Symbian^4 with veranda font:

This unfortunately is not the default look for S^4, but just one of the themes available (I think we’re still stuck in Nokia Sans)

The Icons

One of the issues with the icons (other than their actual design) is their lack of uniformity.

What I mean is that when icons are placed in a grid, because they can assume any shapes,

  • they form less clean lines,
  • you’re not really sure where you can press (i.e. inconsistent clickable areas)
  • (It could be argued however, that such icons with transparent backgrounds make it easier to recognize those icons. Consistency over all devices helps this too.)

Take a look at the default icons below.

Take a look at slightly modified icons (Simple Symbian theme installation – no hacking). They look nicer, more modern (the ones that are changed anyway), but they still aren’t uniform.

Maybe it’s the space constraint, and these type of icons aren’t suited for smaller screens. (Maybe the busy backgrounds aren’t helping?)

Now check out how they look in iPhone icons, i.e. in standard shapes. Squircles (curvy squares?).

  • The grid lines are cleaner to the eye
  • There’s basic symmetry and our eyes by instinct favour this.
  • Curves are innately more appealing than jagged edges (more modern looking – streamlined)
  • You know to always press within the space of the squircles.

Here’s another look but with slightly bigger, more 3D iPhone icons.

Adding squircles

Whilst Nokia couldn’t simply copy iPhone’s icons and put into default themes, you could just put squircles behind the default/any previous icon design.

A bit like Maemo 5 on N900 homescreen (and the new Samsung iPhone Galaxy S)

Size, symmetry and layout of course is important as well as icon design. This is just to demonstrate the ease of adding squircles which instantly make it more visually accessible.

MeeGo tablets have already been seen with uniform circle or uniform square icons. Not a Nokia product, but possibly a shape of things to come?

Which one is the iPhone

N8 with slightly revamped icons. Same shape, more modern looking.

Note portrait mode still has similar S60 5th layout but landscape has newer 2×6 grid.

N8 with iPad theme

Poll: Does Nokia Need to change their Default icons and fonts?

If you voted yes to a change, how should the icons be changed? What font should Nokia use?

And remember, most likely we'll also get themes as customizable as S60 5th where we can change fonts and icons to our taste.

What Nokia needs to learn from Apple Keynotes. Pointers from Steve Job’s iPhone 4 announcement.

June 8, 2010 61 comments

This is mainly a tongue in cheek rant, written very late so it probably may not make sense.  Note – if you are reading this, you are not the “public” which is described in this article.

Again, press X now or prepare for walls of text.

Perception, perception perception.

What Nokia needs to learn from Apple Keynotes. Pointers from Steve Job’s iPhone 4 announcement.

(There could equally be a post on what Nokia could learn from Apple products)

Via Gizmodo

Every time there’s an Apple event, we see that above all else, perception is somewhat more important than the product or service itself. (In the sense of effectiveness of message towards the general public)

At your product launches, you should get to control the intended first impression (unless you “lose” your proto and it gets reviewed, forcing an early launch) so make the most of this opportunity.

What Steve and Apple do best is explain why features are great, why they’re useful to you. Regardless if it’s mundane, it helps general public and the press vomit it verbatim. It helps in direct word of mouth conversation and even more so in online social media. Even if people are retweeting nonsensical bullshit, people are talking about your product in the positive way you choreographed it.

Elaborate on your features.

When announcing N9/MeeGo phone, please take note. Don’t just dispense of it quickly and ignore it. (aka N900 and X6 announcements that were literally sneezed into existence). Don’t just rattle off features. Take time with it, demonstrate to people what a feature does, why a particular feature is good, why it’s useful and how the N9/MeeGo Phone does this well.

This gets people emotionally connected to a feature as they can personally relate with your examples and place themselves in positions where they could benefit from such features/services offered by your device/brand.

It’s no good just listing out screen resolution. Even if it’s not that much more than others. Don’t leave it to a users imagination of what they can do with a feature.

Implant situations where they’d have a need for a feature. Look what Apple did.

No one else could have made a better song or dance about increasing screen resolution. Great job at keeping the screen at 3.5" as now they can boast super high DPI. Image from Engadget

They showed you why the higher resolution is more beneficial, dragging on about seeing much more detail, smoother images/fonts. Apple even went as far as creating a pseudo-scientific (for retards) term, “Retina Display” to make the “increased screen resolution” all that more exciting.

Point out the obvious. You may have so many great features, you over look something you consider minute. e.g. in video calling, point out you can use both front camera and main camera. But don’t just mention it, e.g. create a side feature in being able to “see what you see with the back of the camera”. It’s simple, but again gives a context of that feature in action. e.g. 2, with front camera, point out how the depth of field is perfectly aligned to be in focus at arms length – focusing on your face for video calling.

It doesn’t matter if other handsets have an identical feature. If yours performs the same, don’t bother making comparisons. e.g. Not much talking on how good the 5MP camera is. If yours works better, point out how yours is better.

Create new terminology for old features.

Pseudoscience makes something exceed your ability to understand it, thus making it "magical".

As just mentioned, if you’re introducing a feature that’s years old, buff it up with new names to make it seem different and cutting edge. e.g. Instead of video calling, use “FaceTime”, instead of high resolution screen, use “retina display”, instead of iPhone OS4, call it iOS4. It’s like calling the janitor Chief Hygiene and Sanitation engineer.

Or if you’re not changing the name, just make a statement of how your feature is somehow better. e.g. “Multitasking – Done the right way”. Many mobile users aren’t aware of multitasking therefore claiming yours does it the right way (lies that may be or not) you imply others are doing it wrong (even though they may be the ones  giving you proper multitasking).

Retina Display (Via Engadget).

Marketing babble – Hyperbole power

It also helps to douse with ample hyperbole. “Amazing, magical, wonderful, phenomenal, great, fantastic, beautiful, slimmest, fastest” blah blah blah. Rinse and Repeat.

These subliminally etch into the mind that what you’re talking about is pretty special. Most people won’t have time to make their own decisions. They’ll just agree.

Furthermore, add some stats about how good your features are. It doesn’t really matter what they mean.

1) public avoids having to think and manually deduce comparisons; you’ve made it for them. N% thinner, N% faster, N% higher res etc.

2) It adds to what people can repeat. Instead of being a random specification 9.3mm think, stats give significance – i.e. N% thinner than Y.

I love Steve. Despite being an iDictator, he's a true Mobile Visionary who's revitalized the mobile market. (Edited engadget pic.)

E.G. Instead of just 960×640, you have, 4x resolution, 326 DPI. I doubt the majority even knew resolution iPhone was on previously, but that doesn’t matter. Now they know they have 4x resolution in new iPhone and 326 dots per inch (which they probably won’t understand either but hey, another thing to spout about).

Public don’t know what they want – you need to tell them.

Make them need what you want them to need. (via Gimodo)

What we have seen from Apple is that they don’t necessarily always bring new things to the table, but they do polish old features and make people want it. They weren’t the first with a touch screen, or a tablet, or to try and sell apps. They weren’t the first with 3mp cameras, 3G, GPS, Copy and Paste, Multitasking, Wallpapers, Folders, digital zoom and now Video Calling. But they do make a scene when they finally get certain old industry standard features and demonstrate to everyone that they do that feature better than anyone else (be it true or not e.g. multitasking).

The public, God bless them, has no recollection of these years old features and just blindly accepts them as yet another fantastic thing by Apple.

Nokia is the complete antithesis. They’ve always been pretty poor at shouting about things they do really well. They overlook fantastic features which Jobs would spend 10 minutes and 20 slides on were they to appear on iPhone.

Why does it work? Because the general public aren’t geeks. They don’t know what they want. They need to be told what they need. That’s why advertisements/commercials are so powerful. We just do what we’re told.

Apple has been the best in recent years of dictating exactly what you want in your devices and what features you don’t want. Even if it means being hypocritical years down the line, that doesn’t matter as the public won’t remember. e.g. When talking about Kindle in 2008, Jobs said, “People don’t read anymore”, but with launch of iPad, it’s all about iBooks, ePrint, eMagazines. If you aren’t good at something, dismiss it as useless, or even better, detrimental to mobile phone industry. e.g. Flash. MMS isn’t important, who sends MMS…Multitasking isn’t important it drains battery….

It’s all about creating the perception of need: Make your own game with your own rules

Jedi Mind Tricks not necessary to influence perception of others beyond their realms of logic. image via Gizmodo

Smartphones are luxury items, borne out of want not need. To be desirable you have to meet certain requirements, certain characteristics, certain needs. You can either meet the needs of an already established market or create your own niche. The latter more powerful as you’re in the driving seat. You make your audience need what you want them to need.

When apple announced the iPhone in 2007, they made a game changer. With that, they wrote the rule book. You want touch screens only, you want swishy UIs, you want apps, you don’t want hardware keyboards. Everyone else followed and played along, but it’s impossible to score points, catch up and over take when Apple is in charge and constantly changing these rules.

You must step out and make your own game, create your own set of rules, produce a new paradigm of mobile. Innovate, focus the public’s attention into wanting something else. e.g. how Nintendo broke away from the graphics race.

If you have a feature that you do particularly well, make that seem like the most important thing in the world. Establish that phone as the best in the world at doing that. Or at least make a deal of that feature if indeed it’s new for your device or a unique/rare feature in the market.

Smoke and Mirrors

In the end, all that matters is that people prefer your product over competitors. Manipulating perception destroys logical thinking, removing any sense of practicality. Just make them crave your device.

Of course it’s necessary to have a really good product, but when smartphones are becoming extremely similar (basically just a window) you need to separate yourself from the competition.

You need to have a believable, friendly, and really motivated speaker.

Steve Jobs is to the Tech world what Barrack Obama is to Politics. They both seem to speak with purpose. You kinda want to listen to what they have to say.

You’ve got a great presentation ahead of you, positioned your killer key points, now you need a fantastic speaker to sell it to the public.

We want someone who is used to speaking in public. Someone maybe who is used to following a script, or is excellent at speaking impromptu without hesitation.

E.G. Whilst it was great to see a product manager talking to honestly about the N8, it did seem terribly rushed and unprofessional.

Whilst Nokia has learnt from the N97 about only producing truthful video performance demoes, it doesn’t hurt to polish the delivery of your presentation, aka sales pitch. It’s not merely about content – how something is said maybe just as important as what has been said.

One way to assist excellent delivery is to pepper the presentation with  highly choreographed and well directed videos (perhaps at start or at the end). These videos must show people/families using your product like it’s the easiest and most wonderful thing ever created. Use popular slogans, even if they’re not your own.

Sell ASAP.

Now they’ve bought in to your pitch, you have to get them ready to hand over their wallet.

What apple do best is they create and concentrate hype and within that window they sell you that product. Hype, hype, hype – sell, sell, sell.

Once sold, people can share their love for that device, bring more hype and attract more sales.

What Nokia’s doing with their flagships is announcing them months in advance, creating lots of hype, hype, hype, but then making people wait, and wait, delay maybe, and more wait to the point where it maybe forgotten and no one cares as other devices have been announced.

In that time, that Nokia handset has aged. and released amongst newer competitors e.g. N97. Announced 6-7 months prior to launch. I had hoped for only a 30-60 day wait at best for N8. Perhaps Nokia’s hand was pushed to announce it early given the scathing report/preview on a lost Proto N8.

Fortunately, the N8 still has some pretty advanced features that won’t grow too stale by August/Sept. The timing of release however, is not haphazardly decided. Unfortunately it seems more due to the unreadiness of Symbian^3 here and Symbian^1 in N97.

___

So come on Nokia. There’s still over a couple of months left till big Nokia World 2010. We want to see some magic!

10 minute video hands on with the Google Phone Nexus One. Please take some pointers, Nokia.

December 31, 2009 1 comment

Not really a Nokia post, but an intriguing watch nonetheless. Basically how a modern mobile OS should feel and how the UI should look. Nokia touch phones are often more functional [aka plain/boring] when it comes to the UI. Only recently with the N900 have Nokia users experienced eye candy UI out of the box. For me, I’m hungry for more as it just adds to the whole user experience made by a great OS and an alluring UI.

It doesn’t have to be style versus substance. Why not have both?

  • Animated and interactive wallpapers – gimmicky maybe but undeniably stunning. Wonder how this will affect its battery life
  • Very fast. Only a few minor hiccups here and there.
  • [Complete integration with google services]

Now imagine the quashed rumours of Nokia making an Android Handset were true? Nokia Aseries – with all other Nokia hardware excellence to boot.

Who’ll up the deliver 2010-level eye candy first? Maemo or Symbian?

from nowhereelse.fr via mobilementalism

15 hardware changes that would have made N900 physically irresistible – [15 essential hardware features for its successor]

December 27, 2009 16 comments

The N900 is a great phone, but it is (as Nokia themselves have more or less said) a work in progress. I’ll say it again, it’s step 4 of 5 to Maemo glory.

Software evolution to one side (see firmware update wishlist for N900),  understandably, this early adopter product isn’t physically “perfect” for mass market.

I.E. No point wasting resources on features not necessary to attract your target audience.

So what would the N900 have needed or at least what would the N900’s successor need to be physically irresistible on the hardware front?

Below I’ve quickly listed out top 10 physical attributes the N900’s successor needs to be inexorably alluring (physically) to your 2010 smartphone consumer. Areas I’ve omitted I’m assuming meet the N900s standard, e.g. 1) stay with the black theme 2) screen resolution 3) expandable memory 4) Notification lights etc.

I’ve included 11-15 but stopped there as I could go on forever adding features I’d like to see in the N900′s successor (continuous autofocus, placement of buttons/ports/additional buttons/more in built memory/oleophobic screen/e-ink keyboard/optical zoom etc etc etc).

This, as usual, is just an opinion [feel free to disagree and/or add your own points :)]. It’s mixed with a touch of personal preference , but mostly filled with what Nokia needs to do to satisfy the market’s demand from a 2010 smartphone leading the pack (based on frequently mentioned suggestions).

As such, 1-10 is ordered in what I reckon is the necessary priority of features that would make the N900’s successor undeniably physically desirable (to the mass market audience), leaving only OS of choice as the final deciding factor (which by then, Maemo 6 will have made its appearance with even more bling and eye candy UI]

  1. Capacitive Screen (with multitouch).
    1. I will not go into resistive vs capacitive, except that for the market the N900’s successor is trying to reclaim, it MUST have a capacitive display, and that’s already been confirmed as well as multitouch.
    2. Capacitive is essential to compliment the “feather touch” nature expected of UIs. It’s also necessary so Engadget won’t spit on it.
    3. Multitouch is necessary for multiple key input used when typing on virtual keyboard, gaming and finger gestures.
  2. Needs to be much slimmer.
    1. The concept of what size is acceptable has changed radically.
    2. It’s more acceptable for phones to be long (New LG chocolate) wide (TGO1) but not fat.
    3. If it’s long or wide, it’s OK. As long as it’s not thick.
    4. Ideally anything around 11mm or under. If there’s going to be a keyboard of sorts, try to stay within 14mm
  3. AMOLED display
    1. Go that extra distance with the better brightness, contrast and vividness
    2. Generally consumes less electricity (could contribute slightly towards battery life)
  4. Increase screen size – [Maybe 3.7″, maybe at least don’t go below 3.5″]
    1. The previous 4.13″ Nokia tablets had the perfect screen size for viewing the web on the go.
    2. Comined with the 800×480 screen, you hardly ever had to zoom in to view fine text.
    3. Though screen size (at the moment) is the main limiting factor in size, with minimal borders/space wastage, it’s possible to have a 4.13″ fit more or less in the N900’s foot print.
    4. N900 dimension – 111x60mm.
    5. 4.13″ [800X480] approx 90x55mm
  5. Made mostly of metal -minimise the plastic
    1. This will be a high luxury item.
    2. Metal phones are intrinsically more appealing than plastic ones.
  6. Keyboard – 4 row
    1. If we are going to have a keyboard, can we please have a 4 row
    2. 4th row must be for numbers
    3. More space must be used for the keyboard. I get that you’d want some screen interaction, but you’d save so much more time overall if you could have an extremely efficient text input with a well designed and thought out keyboard.
    4. I won’t go into keyboard layout, except for the love of god, do not hide basic punctuation as secondary symbols.
  7. Xenon Flash
    1. I’m hazarding a guess that the majority of photos the average consumer takes are of people [Friends/Family/Self/Spycam haha]
    2. On that presumption, Xenon Flash is absolutely necessary to make sure that in even low light conditions you can light up the scene and freeze the action.
    3. You can also keep Dual LED for video light. Don’t need to pick one or the other – have both.
  8. Increased MegaPixel count
    1. Nothing to do with picture quality, just keeping up with the times.
    2. It’s more marketable and you won’t fall prey to “Same 5MP cam as 3 years ago” comments.
  9. Higher resolution TV out. 720p at least.
    1. The N900 has proven itself to be a fantastic home media centre, plugging into the TV via TV-out functionality.
    2. HD output is a must for 2010.
  10. Compass/Magnetometer
    1. Assists in navigation of maps to provide real time Map orientation
    2. Gives the option of Augmented Reality style applications.

  11. Solid, spring loaded slide
    1. If we are going to have a physical QWERTY keyboard, it would be nice to have some kind of mechanism to quickly snap open and reveal the keyboard.
  12. Gesture areas
    1. These are spaces left or right of the screen (or both)
    2. Gesture areas can be configured to contextual function and may light up accordingly, but most of the time are invisible.
    3. Extend UI navigation without taking up space on the screen.
    4. e.g. Going back/forward/selecting menu/could possibly even work as green-red call/end buttons as well as dedicated music/media controls.
  13. Higher capacity battery
    1. Go back up to 1500mAh
    2. Possibly increase that?
    3. It’s great to have fantastic features but even better to know you don’t have to ration their use because the battery won’t last a full day. (N900’s battery life is fair, though I’m still pretty much in honey moon period so using it extremely heavily)
    4. You can of course get accessories like the Proporta Turbo Charger or a spare battery to keep yourself going.
  14. Wide angle lens and improved low light sensor
    1. Basically the N86’s optic prowess. Similar to #9 but this one actually does improve the quality of images that you’ll take.
    2. Wide angle lets you get more of your subject in the frame, composing better pictures – improved low light sensor means that you can take great photos when flash isn’t an option [e.g. distant subjects/through glass/situation of no flash photography allowed, often indoors with low light)
  15. Totally flat screen, no dust cave bezel
    1. Raised bezel accumulates dust and dirt
    2. Raised bezel interferes with finger swiping
    3. Make the bezel (if there will be one) flat and flush with the screen

Processor/RAM/Graphics card – can’t give definite specification on what I’d want, but at least improve on what we’ve already got.

We’ll have to wait it out and see what Nokia’s got cooking when the N900 successor is announced. If due in 2010, it’s most likely not possible for any major hardware changes to happen to it now. If it has the first half I’d be ecstatic.

Video: 9 homescreens on the N900 – all accessible in one swipe

December 24, 2009 14 comments

Intended day to day use: have main middle homescreen, quick access to eight others in one swipe. Swipe up for X, and then back to main homescreen.

Nokia totally got me hooked on their concept of homescreens and “alwaysonlineasithappens” with the N97. I found it extremely useful but wanted more of it than the one homescreen + blank screen that the N97 has.

With the N900 we had four homscreens! At last!

I’m able to have a main desktop for things I access all the time. I hardly go into my App Menu anymore because of this.

Another two I’ve for work and another for “news” when I’ve got some time to kill.

From the main homescreen I can swipe left for work or right for news.

But what about the fourth? Well, that’s two swipes away – and whilst that’s not much, it means I use it much less than the other two.

On one of Wednesday’s post

Firmware update wishlist for the N900: 35 things that need sorting in the Nokia N900 (software wise)

#25 highlights a suggestion of a grid of menus. This is something I’ve wanted from the N97. Swiping up/down for additional homescreens.

The video below shows an idea of what the N900 would be like if it had 9 homescreens

1. This may seem overwhelming (4 might already be too much for some), but consider than with one touch/swipe you can access all your apps/widgets/bookmarks.

2. No scrolling through menus, hunting for the app your looking for. Consider than in pressing the menu button is already one motion, and you might stilll need to scroll and find that app. Here, one swipe gets you to the position of your app.

3.From any homescreens 1-9, you can reach the others within one swipe.

4. Let’s take a phone’s 1-9 keypad. From 5, you can access all the others in one swipe.

=

5. For something like 1 to get to 9 or 7 to 6, we’ll have a continuous grid connecting the 9 homescreens

6. From any other number you can reach all the others.

7. I suppose this could get confusing, however there could be an indicator made to show exactly where you are. Like a 9 grid dot and one dot changes position when you move homescreens.

8.Imagine if this was implimented as the App Menu view too?  This goes a bit extra to the folder organization that I liked in S60, whereby from within 3 clicks [menu>folder>app], I can access 144 apps. With a 4×5 icon grid, you could have access to 180 apps

9. Also if like #8 you categorized them into Multimedia/office etc it might make it easier to remember what’s where. e.g. Need to find Maps? Under navigation. Twitter app? Connect [with people] Bounce? Games.

With your apps already on the homescreen, you might never need to check out menu again.

– just an idea.

Firmware update wishlist for the N900: 35 things that need sorting in the Nokia N900 (software wise)

December 22, 2009 43 comments

We all know that the N900 is a work in progress. Nokia famously proclaimed the N900 to only be “step 4” of a 5 step route to Maemo glory and smartphone perfection. Well words to that effect anyway.

Hardware wise -I won’t go into this too heavily though there are three main aspects that resonate amongst reviewers that needs some attention:

  • the N900 seems too large for mass market.  Everyone seems to have gotten used to anorexic phones. Realistically it’s not that big, it’s more short and fat. The N900’s  size is acceptable but would prefer it to be slimmer.
  • The keyboard needs addressing. The top row is a touch cramped whilst still only being 3-row [Nokia said this was to optimize combination of screen/keyboard use]. Whether the successor will still have one is not 100% certain.
  • The resistive screen – it will be the last time we’ll see it on a flagship device as it’s already been confirmed that the successor of the N900 will get Capacitive screen with multitouch. [Symbian too] Though the debate shouldn’t really over the technology rather the responsiveness and accuracy of the screen, for now capacitive’s feather light touch makes any touch UI miles better

Software wise, Nokia with Maemo are on the right path. Combined with the hardware it’s a true multimedia powerhouse with multitasking prowess that’s to be revered. Usually the first round of firmware is plagued by bugs but not so with the N900. There are a few but they’re hard to replicate and don’t really interfere with the operation.

Fortunately, as we’ve seen with Symbian and S60, things can gradually be ironed out with firmware updates. So any issues you might see today, may not be there in the next firmware session.

i.e. These N900 ‘issues’ CAN BE SORTED ^_^

Below I’ve listed out things in order of importance (to me)- from what needs sorting now to wish lists[non essential but would be nice]. These are mostly achievable in the N900.

The following are just my opinions, feel free to offer up other suggestions to what I believe are “issues” or even just disagree that they’re issues in the first place.



  1. MENU/MULTITASK/DESKTOP view confusion: This is probably one of the biggest causes for concerns because it makes the Maemo 5 UI appear less intuitive than it actually is:
    1. The menu button is contextual.
      1. If you have no apps running it’s just a menu/desktop button.
      2. If you have an open app, it becomes a menu/multitask button
      3. Getting back to the desktop is the confusion. You can only do it by going into multitask view and pressing the empty spaces around the windows. This causes confusion for first time users expecting menu button to bring them back to the desktop
    2. Once you get your head around this Maemo logic, you’ll find it’s actually the best solution for navigation especially when you’re multitasking tons of windows.
    3. However for the sake of “pick up and play”, if you don’t get this logic, the N900 will be frustrating to “navigate”.
    4. Solution? Possibly a separate “button” for desktop/menu and “Multitask view/Desktop” –
    5. This needs some sort of workaround – additional buttons is just an idea – there could be gestures [swipe left[aka down] for menu, right[aka up] for multitask, just press for desktop in a given area on the screen – maybe in successor have a gesture area for this?]
  2. Portrait Mode. Proper one. Not one via a bug. Web Browsing now has Portrait in  this firmware update
    1. The N900 is designed for landscape use and 90% of the time I’d prefer it like that. Web browsing, typing out messages/emails/tweets, watching video, taking photos, using maps etc.
    2. However when you’re on the move and only have one hand free (maybe you’re holding bags/luggage/shopping or just on the move) the most convenient way is to be using the phone in portrait.
    3. Not only are controls easier with one hand in portrait but your grip of the phone will be more secure. E.G. Music player.
    4. Portrait mode has been mentioned to be coming soon.
  3. Ovi Maps opens slightly faster in firmware update, and has slightly improved UI

    1. Just in general the whole thing. Might deserve its own post.
    2. Needs to be faster at loading
    3. it takes too long to load. Sometimes I just want to quickly see where I am. But the N900 wants to go and make a cup of tea first.
    4. GPS is certainly very fast though. Is it masking the load time with picking up GPS signal?
  4. Make it easier to get into call mode.
    1. Strangely, the hardest task I find on the N900 is to make a call  despite there being a number of ways to get into call mode – 1) press power>phone 2) press a desktop shortcut 3) rotate phone in portrait (if enabled – and works only during desktop/multitask view) 4)menu>phone 5)select a contact  shortcut in desktop 6)go to phonebook from desktop 7)go to phone book from menu. 8) Start typing out a person’s name in desktop/multitask view
    2. None of these are as easy or quick as pressing a green call button to activate phone mode.
    3. But since the N900 does not have call/end keys there must be another work around.
    4. Solution? Rotate phone to portrait was nice but it needs to be much faster or
    5. Change the power button “double tap” shortcut. At the moment double tapping the N900’s power button locks the N900. But we’ve already got a lock switch for that? I’d much prefer double tap=phone mode.
  5. Rotate to launch call mode” needs to be a lot faster
    1. I‘ve just mentioned it, but it deserves being a point in itself.
  6. When in “call mode” I’d still like the option of being able to send a text message and not just a call fixed in firmware update
    1. At the moment in call mode, I can only call people in call list
    2. It would be nice to be able to send a text also – really useful for missed calls.
  7. Long press to get secondary symbols
    1. To get to the secondary symbols via keyboard you have to press “alt” . See N900 keyboard shortcuts
    2. On the N97 with V20, you just long press and the secondary symbols appear
    3. It would be great to have the same option on the N900. Whilst we’re there, please don’t make the activation wait too long. 0.5  seconds is long enough.
  8. Make it easier to get the rest of the symbols
    1. At the moment you must press shift and alt to get the rest of the symbols that aren’t available via secondary keys
    2. However it doesn’t always show up and sometimes freezes the keyboard so it doesn’t function anymore [though the frezing could be caused  by a testing app not intended for public use]
  9. Download full message in Nokia Messaging
    1. Nokia messaging is a great solution for instant emails on the go
    2. However, like my N97, I’d like to be able to click on an email and see the entire message instantly
    3. On the N900 currently it only downloads parts of the email (and you see this in the notification) and then downloads the rest when you open it.
    4. The option is there to download full but you can’t select it (it’s stuck to saying partial message)
  10. Scroll bar
    1. The N900 has excellent kinetic scrolling.
    2. However, I don’t want to be flicking the screen so vigorously like I’m trying to light a fire  to get to the bottom of a list or long web page.
    3. Scroll bar is really useful to quickly position the page in more or less one motion.
    4. The N97 used to have this problem but now it’s fixed there. N900’s turn please.

  11. More consistency in Photo and Video viewer – most recent either all at the top or at the bottom but not mixture of both
    1. At the moment, when in “Photos” app, newest photos appear at the bottom
    2. when in video, the newst videos appear at the top
  12. File manager needs to put most recent files at the top
    1. Taditionally oldest files appear first in file managers
    2. However, when you want to upload a file, e.g. photo via web browser (e.g. twitpic/facebook), your images are listed with the newst photo at the bottom of the list.
    3. It takes a while to get to the bottom [Point 10.  Scroll bar would help]
    4. Solution? Have most recent files at the top
  13. Option to share videos in video viewer
    1. For me, I like the ease of not having to look for a cable to send files over to my pc.
    2. I just bluetooth my files – it’s easy enough with photos but not so with video.
  14. Icon that says share so I can select photos and send them via Bluetooth
    1. At the moment you can share photos by hitting settings>share. Then you just select the photos you want to send.
    2. But this isn’t entirely obvious that the title bars also house settings/options.
    3. Solution? Perhaps have an icon for share or make the settings a little more obvious that a little triangle.
  15. In video viewer, when sorting out by “Camera/Films” put the option of both categories at the top so I can switch quickly in between.
    1. At the moment, if I want to get to a “film” I must scroll, scroll, scroll, and scroll!
  16. When leaving a video, can we just pause it instead of exiting the video please?
    1. It is possible to just pause the video if you press Ctrl+Delete to quickly go into multitask view [see other N900 keyboard shortcuts]
  17. Camera needs more options. Camera Grid/Colour tones at least
    1. N900 has an excellent and touch friendly camera UI
    2. However, it would be nice to have the camera options that the much of the other Nseries are blessed with.
    3. Colour tones for black/white,
    4. camera grid for assisting in composition?
    5. Contrast
    6. Camera Grid – helps compose photo
    7. Sequence mode – Bust shot (I’d also like the old sequence mode where you can set phone to take photos in longer intervals, 1s, 5s, 10, 30s, 1m, 5m – a niche feature but great for time lapse photography)
    8. Self Timer – don’t leave people out in group photos
    9. User defined settings – I like to save high contrast/high exposure/black and wide in the N97, and it’s nice that I can select this mode and not have to tinker about with these settings (not that the N900 has these options anyway)
  18. Could do with an additional shortcut button in camera for 1 click switching between video/photo
    1. Probably the most used camera setting is switching between video to photo mode.
    2. Therefore it needs its own dediated button – which on a touch screen you can just make up.
    3. Solution? A button for video/camera mode for instant switching.Perhaps even a switch so we swipe one way for video the other for photo?
  19. The screen brightness app should be an option by default
    1. Like previous Maemo tablets, there was always an option to change the screen brightness
    2. It might be first thing in the morning and you don’t want to be blinded by the N900’s screen – you don’t want to have to go into settings for this.
    3. Or you could want to save on battery life (or many other reasons why you’d want to be able to change brightnesss quickly)
  20. Ability to make playlist
    1. At the moment, the N900 has playlists but only ones you’ve imported
    2. Please can we have the ability to make playlists on the N900 itself like S60 music players?

  21. Quick add-playlist button
    1. After point 20-playlist is done, whilst we’re there, can we have a dedicated button during music playback to quickly add this song to a default list?
    2. e.g. you’re playing all songs or a new album, you want to “bookmark” or add to your playlist of fav songs but don’t want the hassle of going through “add to playlist, select playlist”
    3. Like in Midomi music identifier, perhaps have a star icon. If you press it, it lights up yellow and instantly added to your default playlist/favourites.
  22. Equaliser
    1. Not essential, but would be nice to have the option.
  23. Could I get N800’s Bluetooth skills whereby I can browse my PC’s files/phone’s files all from the file browser?
    1. Previous tablets had the ability of browsing files of phones and pcs conneccted over bluetooth
  24. Web browser would be good to have the option of “not fit to width”
    1. N900 has an excellent browser, and the wide 800 pixels minimises the need to side scrolling.
    2. However, it would be nice if again, like previous tablet, you could change how the page was rendered so for even wider pagers, it did not try to squash it down to 800 pixel width
    3. Instead you could browse a side designed for 1024/1280 and it’ll appear perfectly proportioned. e.g. WordPress gets squashed a bit.
  25. Reorganize menu view [there’s an app for this that auto reorganizes apps]
    1. At the moment the menu is locked to a 3×5 grid of icons.
    2. Additional added apps are accessed via “more”
    3. Although you start of with 3×5 it can display 4×5 icons.
    4. Perhaps like iPhone, have static number of apps  -say 4×5 and when you swipe (in a given direction, e.g. down), you go to another 4×5 set.
  26. Ability to modify menu app locations
    1. When I wrote this list, I had a S60 frame of mind where I needed to modify the menu to get some sort of coherence of the application locations
    2. In Symbian having folders helped me organize my apps so that I had 2 click access to 144 apps.
    3. But I’m not sure I need this anymore, especially with the panoramic desktop giving me instant 1 click access to apps I frequently use.
  27. Menu icons to rotate about it’s own axis when in portrait
    1. In aniticaption for portrait mode, I’d like to suggest that apps rotate about their own axis instead of rejumbling their positions like it does in S60
    2. See this post: Instead of icons moving around, their in the same position on the grid except rotated.
  28. Ovi Store fixed in firmware update
    1. You can get apps from App Manager but people want the application store
    2. We know this is coming for the N900. Some have even gotten early access.
  29. Video light for video
    1. The N900 has dual LED flash. Supposedly one of the reasons for Nokia sticking around with Dual LED (apart from apparently being good enough) is that you can use it for video.
    2. The N900 currently cannot use DUAL lef for video light.
    3. Whilst we’re there, is it possible to give us the option of turning video light on/off during video recording?
  30. End current task should be the ultimate kill switch (before having to actually turn off the phone)
    1. You can quit an application by pressing X, either within the app or multitasking view.
    2. Alternatively you can press power button>End current task
    3. On the rare occasion an app freezes this is mighty helpful.
    4. However, it would be nice if the kil switch  “end current task”

  31. Say caller’s name
    1. This is a feature on S60 phones whereby, as you can guess, the caller’s name is spoken by the text to speech [intermittently during your set ringtone]
    2. This is useful in that if you haven’t got your phone with you, you can hear who it is that’s calling and perhaps increase the urgency to answer if it’s your girlfriend or not so…if it’s your girlfriend :p
    3. It’s also useful if you’re on a headset and haven’t can’t get to the phone’s screen
  32. Voice Dialling
    1. This is not available by default on the N900.
    2. Voice dialling is neccessary if you’ve driving and need to make a call via headset (though preferable you should just make a call when you’re not driving)
  33. Video call?
    1. There’s a front camera on the N900 but current firmware does not support it
  34. Possibility to use front camera directly anyway
    1. There is a mirror app but that’s oddly grainy
    2. Plus it would be nice to have the option anyway to use the front camera
  35. MMS
    1. I don’t use MMS. I can’t ever be 100% sure the person will  receive it properly. They might not have the right phone or right mms settings or MMS isn’t included in their phone plan.
    2. However it would be nice to have the option

Additional points I forgot and your suggestions

36. Have Hermes functionality built in

  • Hermes app lets you fetch contacts from facebook and twitter
  • It would be nice to see this built in to the contacts app
  • Even nicer is if contacts automatically updated and synced
  • Perhaps Nokia could do this Via the Ovi Contacts. But instead of forcing settings for sync, all we’d need is our log in details.

37. Bluetooth progress bar   fixed in firmware update

  • At the moment, when you send a file over bluetooth, the only indication it’s happening is from the dashboard settings (in desktop view).
  • When sending something over bluetooth it would be nice maybe to see a live/animated progress bar
  • Maybe just animate the current static bar or have a tiny icon that changes according to progress?

38. 4 directional, 5 page homescreen

  • Just throwing up an idea – the current solution is fine.
  • Currently the N900 has a panoramic 4 desktop homescreen. I have one main, one work, one for news and a random connections one.
  • From my main one I can swipe left to get to the “work” homescreen or swipe right to get to the “news” homescreen. The fourth homescreen is hardly used because it takes that extra swipe.
  • What if from the main middle homescreen I could swipe up and down? This way I could possibly have access to 5 homescreens  all one swipe away from each other. See “9 homescreens on N900
  • More homescreens = more space for app shortcuts = less need to use the traditional grid menu.

39. Improve word completion

  • N900 can suggest words as you’re typing them and uses words you’ve previously typed
  • Is there a way to modify/delete words that have accidentally been inserted inserted [Everytime I press J it goes jjjaosdihaosiehogbaoishd – was in my pocket and that word got added to the dictionary]
  • Autocorrect feature?
  • a way to cycle through suggested words

40. T9 keypad with multitouch [ Via talk.maemo.org]

  • If we do get portrait mode, it would be nice to have maybe a portrait keypad,
  • N97 style aka alphanumeric keypad, but with multitouch should you want to type two but in portrait.
  • Again, it’s one of these things where it’s nice to have the option

41. More profiles [ Via talk.maemo.org]

  • At the moment N900 has Silent/General/ and Offline
  • Perhaps give users cusomizable profiles
  • Timed profil

42 Timed profiles[ Via talk.maemo.org]

  • On the N97 you have a nice option to set a profile and after the set time, it will expire and return to the previous profile.
  • It helps me as I sometimes forget I’ve left my phone on silent and I miss important calls.
  • After say, a meeting, the phone would go back on silent
  • But please make timed profile settings available in desktop view. In N97 this is stupidly buried in settings where probably >1% of its users know where it is.

43 Set different ringtone per contacts [via talk.maemo.org]

  • Much like #31, “Say callers name” this can help identify contacts without looking at the screen
  • It might also be nice if you could set ringtone for groups of people

44 Consistency of highlighting text with touchscreeen

  • When typing out text, it’s not always consistent whether you can highlight it with the touch screen
  • Sometimes you can highlight text with the keyboard open [e.g. web address bar]
  • Sometimes you cannot [conversations – you must go into virtual keyboard mode]
  • You can however, always highlight text using Shift+arrow

45. Support for Bluetooth keyboard

  • All previous tablets have supported bluetooth keyboards.
  • N900 is touted as a pocket computer, not just a smartphone.
  • What’s more pocket computer than a near full size pocket keyboard?
  • N900 has a great keyboard but nothing apart from mind reading could match the speed of touch typist.

46. Consistency in contact/phonebook view to make quick shortcut letters accessible

  • When scrolling through contacts opened from phone app in portrait, you get shortcut letters, e.g. A-C so you can quickly jump to those contacts with either first name/last name of A-C (depending on how you set the phonebook)
  • But this is not available in landscape
  • This is not available through contacts app.

47. Make it easier to group contacts/filter phonebook contacts

  • When adding additional IM accounts, it’s great that you can quickly filter out to show only certain account contacts, e.g. just facebook or just those online.
  • However, it would be great if there was a way to filter out just phonebook contacts (currently only possible by disabling other IM accounts)

Video: Nokia Zero – Why the next flagship needs a proper name.

December 21, 2009 12 comments

This is a video for the Nokia Zero: The new Nokia phone to rule them all.

This post is meant to demonstrate the importance of having a “memorable product name”. This goes for services as well as devices. Here I’ve taken “Zero” as an example. The rest of the post after the video explains why I’m ranting on about names.

Why Zero?

  • Nokia like to use numbers. Simply put – 0.
  • The symbol for zero could even be the actual picture of the phone.
  • You can rearrange “NOKIA” to make “ZERO”
  • N can rotate into a Z (branding/icon simplicity)
  • Zero just has two syllables.
  • The symbol for zero (essentially a circle) has no beginning or an end – something quite omnipotent about that.
  • er…um…Zero degrees is cool? haha

I’m sure you’ll have some even better suggestions for names

[Note – I know there are other things Nokia needs to do. That’s why this ‘name-thing’ was just a small part of a huge rant discovered in my WP drafts folders]

What’s in a name?

For a product  – it is its identity, a metaphorical soul if you’ll entertain this notion [see point 4].

It shouldn’t just be an afterthought, “Ok we’ve finished this one, let’s call it N920-1TB-12MP or Melissa.”

Therefore it helps to have a memorable name, especially if they are high end and undoubtedly if it’s your flagship.

However, Nokia keeps making handsets with designations as friendly to remember as the periodic table.

As such, only a select few being able to decipher the handset behind the anonymous digits.

As a tech manufacturer you want everyone to know about your product. Not just your geek fans or people in the industry. When you’ve penetrated society such that the very non-tech minded has heard about your product, you’re onto a good thing. And one of the key factors to that is the right name.

Here are four points to consider:

1. Name needs to be iconic, simple to remember

The name is essential as a “storage” for that product’s reputation….

Person 1: “Oh, wow, that’s a brilliant phone, what’s it called?”

You: “This is the N920-1TB-12MP”

Person 1: “The what?!”

…as well as making it easier for purchasing…

Customer: “Hi, hello, I’d like to buy the um…I think it’s called the N9 something…Nokia N920”

Sales Team: “There’s no N920. Do you mean the N90, N91, N92, N93, N95, N96, N97, N79? 9700?…”

Customer: “Erm…*hangs up*”

…and setting it apart to compete with other manufacturers.

2. Helps if there’s an actual reasoning behind the name, e.g. a theme

This helps with advertising by being able to reinforce the identity of the product with imagery related to the name.

e.g. Droid – Android powered – Robotic/Powerful/Technological etc [vs Milestone – wtf]

Names (vs numbers) and names with meaning evoke memories and emotional responses better towards your product.

3. Syllable count matters

Although they may only be 3/4 characters long, e.g. N97, N900, 6303, consider the syllable count

N97: EN – Nine – Ty – Se-ven [5]

N900 – EN – Nine – Hun – Dred [4]

6303 – Six – ty – three – oh – three [5]

I can understand having these practical numerical designations for lower end handsets, but not mid, and quite inexcusable for the high end.

More syllables means more margin for error and confusion.

[Note also that now Nokia are going to focus on less quantity/more quality handsets, it’s now much more feasible to use names and not codes numbers!]

4. Try and keep that name across future handsets

Just an idea to possibly spur some better names for Nokia's high end/flagships

Once you’ve built a good reputation with that handset, you’re gonna want to take advantage of that for its successor.

Over time the handset’s name will be an indicator of its pedigree.

As the success of the previous model is already etched in people’s minds, having that same name makes the transtition to the successor much easier. Better for brand loyalty (as people know what they’ll be getting) and better to entice other consumers (as the each new handset in line contributes to that renowned heritage)

Keep the name, and you accumulate each new strength of the successor. The name becomes a phrase that’s part of society and every day living.

Lose the name and you lose the history.

______________

Prime example across the board is iPhone. Simple, two syllable “iGoodness”.

Because apple have kept the same moniker despite there being 3 different models across several memory/colour variants, iPhone steadily but surely solidified its reputation as a world class gadget. With each new model it simply just added onto the known success and hype whilst gradually ironing out flaws.

BBC Documentaries: (1) Life and Death of a Mobile Phone and (2) Upgrade Me

October 7, 2009 Leave a comment

The BBC recently aired a couple of technology focused documentaries, one called Life and Death of a Mobile Phone and the other Upgrade Me.

They’re available to watch/download on the BBC iPlayer (Sorry, UK residents only – er, unless you know how…)

I always find it interesting to see technology related programmes designed for the mainstream.

Life and Death of a Mobile Phone

brick

This first 30 minute doc shows how mobile phones have become an utter necessity to modern day lifestyles – we live in a world where we are compelled to always be connected. You’ll see a brief history of handsets – some brick carphones progressing to the pocketable variety, and people’s mobile phone habits.

You’ll also see where mobile phones go when they’re no longer wanted: Some are recycled and resold, others are broken apart and spare parts taken, metals extracted. With 500 tonnes of mobile phones, one particular plant extracted 150kg of gold.

Via BBC iPlayer

Gold

Gold "mined" from Mobile Phones

Upgrade Me

If you’re reading this, most likely you’re obsessed with technology. You love gadgets, always seeking to get the latest one, even though what you’ve already got might already still be pretty functional.  Cameras, TVs, Computers, MP3 players, and of course, mobile phones.

Are you upgrading out of  ‘need’? Or is it something psychological – a status symbol, or perhaps, as mentioned, you just want the newest, shiniest gadget?

The content of this video is what I expected the first video “Life and Death of a Mobile Phone” to be about. How with the upgrade culture, we’re constantly upgrading our phones and disposing older ones.

p

“Upgrade Me” shows the gadget culture to constantly upgrade to the latest and greatest.  It’s interesting to see that the Apple’s iPod and iPhone are seen as the landmark devices that people covet. When Simon Armitage visits a school  – the most desirable, ultimate gadget the children mention is iPhone. It’s nice that people are opening up to the world of Smartphone and convergence devices, but it’s a bit disheartening as a Nokia Geek that Nokia isn’t getting a mention.

Frankly though, I can understand it – except for pre-iPhone era, Nokia have still got to put a device out there with the intrinsic desirability factor of the iPhone. It’s not so much that the iPhone is particularly better than another phone, it’s just THE device of the moment. Like how a lot of (non tech) people confuse all MP3 players as iPods, people are associating high end only with iPhone. With the great advertising hype and inevitable word of mouth, Apple have TAUGHT people, like with the iPod, exactly what to desire instead of just “listening to the market and following what consumers seem to want…*cough*Nokia*”. Apple don’t play things safe and follow trends, they take risks and set new ones. (Though when they do “copy” no one really bats an eyelid)

I really wish that Nokia will push the boat out in 2010 to give us something truly wow-worthy. The N900 is the closest we’re gonna get so far, and it’s pretty good. But from Nokia, I want to see that device where (in addition to the internet/messaging/possibly gaming/touch prowess of the N900) I can leave my point and shoot camera and video cam behind by giving us the imaging performance that could rival dedicated counterparts. Nokia are already there with bringing the best Mobile Web experience, possibly even with gaming on Maemo 5. It’s all about just bringing it all together, in that one device.

Then there’s the trouble of shrinking all that, and perhaps like Apple, keep some sort of ICONIC design/appearance/NAME to maintain that recognizability even with future physical updates of that device.

Samsung also get a big mention. Simon takes a trip to Samsung HQ in South Korea. Apparently, the key to Samsung’s success is they’re always striving to bring new technology. I remember the days when samsung phones were purely style over substance, with any ground breaking phone looking extremely hideous (7MP camera phones with opical zoom *yuck*!). They were quite laughable. Now, Samsung is constantly punching the pistons to the max, delivering the very best in convergence hardware (e.g. i8910, W880/Pixon 12). Samsung of course, aren’t just phone manufacturers, they make practically every type of consumer electronic device. Still though, their “Future House” looks kinda stupid to me. Design wise, they’re nice, but they’re not at all futuristic, not by today’s standards anyway.

Future House

Towards the end of the video is most interesting – with nanotech/biotech, we may soon be able to upgrade ourselves, restore hearing/sight, monitor internal physiology and something I’ve always thought the inevitable, the physical integration of “mobile phone” with the human body.

Via BBC iPlayer

Ovi Store Rant: 7 things wrong with the Ovi Store

September 26, 2009 8 comments

I just watched Episode 91 of Steve Litchfield’s “The Phones Show” where in this episode, he covers Application Stores:

  • Apple’s App Store
  • Nokia’s Ovi Store
  • Google’s Android Market.

The Ovi Store is supposed to be Nokia’s one stop shop for Applications, Games, and other content such as ringtones, videos, wallpapers and themes.

I’ve been using the Ovi Store since the N97 came out. It’s good for what it does until you experience how stores work on other platforms- namely, App Store on the iPhone. Furthermore, there are annoyances in user experience that I would have had anyway were there no other app stores around.

The problems are listed with increasing hindrance to user experience as you decend the topics. (Hmm, for some reason, most of my list posts coincidentally end up having 7 items)

7. Inability to update the client within the app

Unless I go to the browser version of the Ovi Store and attempt to redownload Ovi Store for my N97, there’s no way for me to find out what version of the Ovi Store I’m using, let alone update it directly from the client itself. This is highly annoying since, with the stability issues (see next point), I need to know if there’s a new update that might improve my user experience of the Ovi Store so I won’t experience stupid error messages.

6. Stability issues

– on every update of the Ovi Store application, I have received annoying error messages that I’m not in fact signed in and Ovi Store refuses further navigation or download of applications.  At times it gets so frustrating that I use the browser version of Ovi Store.Fortunately, these error messages occur less frequently, but it’s annoying that it still happens.

Whislt writing this post, Ovi Store crashed my N97.

5. Poor Searching

– Searching for an application by name is almost impossible. The best option is to describe it. E.G. instead of looking for “tweet60/tweet 60” (which comes up with NO results) , I have to search “Twitter”. At the moment, the search function seems to be completely broken as it comes out with nothing for twitter

4. Poor, inconsistent preview style of apps before downloads.

The very first hurdle of the app store is getting a consumer to download an app. That’s the best way to really find out how good an app is. Good descriptions and previews help a lot if you’re unfamiliar with an application.

In Ovi Store, you get a short description, perhaps a thumbnail icon and if you’re lucky, a cropped screenshot of the app itself. In Apple’s App Store, the description varies, but it can get very detailed, lengthy and informative, whereas it’ll only ever be a short summary in Ovi Store. Also, you’ll get actual screenshots from the iPhone app.

Although the added information makes browsing for apps slower on the iPhone, the added detail in information makes it worth it (especially if you’re going to be forking over money!). Yes you could just find a dedicated review for that app, but it’s just so much more convenient to have that sort of detail within the app store itself.

not a n97

Ovi Store, Web Version. Small descriptions, cropped screenshot. Demonstrates what google shows as an N97 but that's NOT the N97. That's not even a REAL PHONE for goodness sakes. Who filters the Ovi Store submissions?

3. Poor Navigation

On the N97, you’ve got a huge 3.5″ 640X360 screen, but as with most S60 5th edition apps, Ovi Store does not take full advantage of all the available space. Instead, Ovi Store opts to bury things within options that should be easily viewable at all times.

  • Categories
  • Most Recent
  • Most Popular (time scale please…today, this week, this month? etc)
  • Filter paid/freeware
  • Search

In Ovi Store you have a switch thing at the top so change from “Recommended downloads, applications, games, audio/video and personalization”. Then there’s a bar for search. Categories/most popular etc are hidden two clicks away (one click for options, another to select) in options.

MNB4000017Why couldn’t the additional be set up simply as icons? Simple, easily visible, just one click away.

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Navigating both browser and mobile version of Ovi Store feels so unintuitive after using the App Store on either PC or iPhone. With the App Store in iTunes, it takes advantage of the bigger screen, displaying more apps, several categories/lists, different layouts of app description etc. Ovi Store on the browser has the same limited feel of the mobile app. Perhaps this is because Ovi Store doesn’t have a dedicated PC counterpart like iTunes and is just basically a browser version that’s also friendly to mobile browsers. But why can’t Ovi Store users have an improved PC version too?

Maybe more apps are just being downloaded directly from the mobile app? If so, then Nokia really need to invest in improving its user interface.

2. Lack of Content

…Both in quantity and quality. Launched late May 09 – so slightly understandable then for the lack of content at launch. 4 months on, there are few worthwhile additions for an N97 (or S60 5th edition) user looking for some great applications.

The Ovi Store attempts to cater for a lot of devices on Nokia’s various platforms, and not just in terms of applications but also audio and video customizations.

This fragmentation leads to a diluted content of applications with only

  • 565 compatible applications for the N97 …with several variants, e.g. English dictionary, Spanish Dictionary and several other reference dictionaries, several eBook titles (which should really be just 1 eBook app, with separate eBook purchase within the app). I reckon under 10% of the paid apps on the Ovi Store are anywhere near worth their price label.
  • 211 Games on the Ovi Store.
  • The bulk content for the N97 are audio/video and personalization with rank up 227+718 pieces respectively.

This does not account for the several hundred apps available for S60 5th edition, or the abundant themes which are yet (if at all) to make it on the Ovi Store.

[Fragmentation within the Nokia OSes means that there are more great apps for S60 that just never got ported over to 3rd/5th edition so will just be resigned to the history books]

1. Poor Pricing

One of my biggest loves for Apple’s App Store is not only the fantastic quality and vast numbers of applications available but the relatively cheap prices for paid applications. A lot of applications on the App Store are priced around $1/£0.59.

59 pence – that’s enough for what, 1 donut in Greggs (UK bakery). That price is so low, I wouldn’t even consider price as a factor in the purchase. Just whether it’s interesting enough for me to click and download it.

This makes it easy to make spontaneous purchases on applications that generate a slight interest.  That’s great for both the consumer (as we don’t pay that much for an app) and even more so for the developer as lots of people can make quick purchases which adds up! (1USD x 300,000 > 25GBP X 30).

One of the biggest faults (and hindrances for me anyway) on the Ovi Store is pricing. When you price an application high enough that I have to consider whether it’s worth it, almost always, I won’t buy it.

If I were to allocate myself £10 monthly app purchases, I’d easily spend that on 16 x £0.59 great applications, possibly more. But the moment prices creep up to £3, £4, £8, to £26, instead of making that spontaneous purchase, I reflect on whether the app is worth it, and just don’t bother buying.

It’s not simply the price but the value for money. £1.50, £3 or even £6 is a lot for an app that I may just use on a rare occasion, but more than worth it for apps I’d be using frequently, maybe on a daily basis like Gravity or are simply just very good quality applications like SmartMovie. Unfortunately, going back to content, there are few paid apps on Ovi Store that (I think) are worth the what they’ve valued themselves to be. Content quality and price go hand in hand. If some of the crappier apps on Ovi Store were priced cheaply, I think I’d take a punt and buy them because they would be cheap enough. But they aren’t.

Sell great apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other fantastic apps > sell fantastic apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other amazing apps > etc etc etc.

Poor pricing acts as a block to this cycle.

(There are additional factors involved such as ease of making apps and distribution base – I’ve just over simplified it)

I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong and Nokia and the developers are making megabucks with Ovi Store as it is.