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Posts Tagged ‘Rant’

Dual Core Symbian Phones with revamped UI and “True Zoom” for 2011 (and Nokia E7 release )

December 14, 2010 74 comments

Engadget reports that Nokia will be shipping Dual Core Symbian Devices next year with a revamped UI.

Well, Symbian has always been open about its roadmap. Back in February this year they mentioned this in exact detail (when they were still Symbian Foundation and Symbian^N was still the norm). Now Nokia has taken Symbian development back and Symbian will no longer have ^N nomenclature, just Symbian as we have confirmations that Symbian^3 devices will be getting the much awaited new enhancements meant for Symbian^4.

Today however in a presentation in Beijing, Gunther Kottzieper from Nokia gave some slides incidating Nokia Symbian 2011 focus areas including

  • Q1 Symbian update will include over 50 features << new browser, new keyboard, draggable homescreen Read more…

Nokia’s Smartphone Strategy in the right direction? – Intellectual exchange between Robert Scoble and Tomi Ahonen

December 14, 2010 25 comments

If you’re not familiar with the name Tomi Ahonen then you should be. Calling Tomi simply one of the best mobile industry analysts would not do him justice and is one of the rare few to see the light at the frequently mentioned “doomed” Nokia tunnel.

In this still major transition stage at Espoo, it is difficult to see for anyone with out heaps of patience for Nokia to see where they’re going. For a company so passionate in connecting people, they are possibly the worst at communicating their strengths and strategies with the public. The latter I can only fathom is Nokia’s over secrecy.

Today, Tomi Ahonen wrote an epic piece of what could deservedly be several chapters in one of his books, which I had planned on summarising. Basically, Tomi reckons Nokia has the best strategy migrating dumbphones to smartphones and why they need to stick with Symbian and MeeGo. He goes on to dispel the misconceptions about Nokia, and the portrayal of this “dying and loosing” behemoth that’s outperforming its adjacent competitors COMBINED.

Everyone loves to see the top guy knocked off their perch. It’s always awesome to read the next “Nokia is doomed article, Nokia should go Android…blah blah blah”. Any time there’s negative news on Nokia it’s a celebration. Some even going as far as to skew poll results (i.e. Android “overtaking” Symbian in Asia where CHINA and INDIA and several other countries are not included. I don’t even want to begin pointing out where that’s just wrong).

Anyway, you can read this for yourself – bear in mind it is quite long and there’s a little more to this story than this first link.

Read more…

Categories: Nokia Tags: ,

Rant: The Nokia Social App – Please stay signed in! (And a bunch of other annoyances)

November 14, 2010 14 comments

Before I begin my coursework I’ll let off some steam and rant about the social app.

The Nokia Social App

It really feels like a half baked offering when compared to something like gravity:

  • Scrolling – why the hell is it so crap? You’ve got smooth scrolling in browser, photos, contacts, apps yet here it’s like I’ve stepped back to the first N97 firmware. Yes it’s still kinetic scrolling somewhat but it’s so painstakingly SLOW and CHOPPY.
  • Titleless photouploads: The NEW update allows you to send photos to social places immediately after taking them. But why autosend without a title? On the plus side it compresses a picture and goes up pretty quick which might be OK for facebook (where it goes into a random “Mobile Uploads” folder). For twitter though, you kind of need to caption images most of the time. I wish PixelPipe would be preinstalled and let me upload like I did in N900 (where it also gave you option to compress photos in settings, titles and a million other social places not just facebook or twitter)
  • Forgetful sign-in: I thought it was just me until I got replies saying it was happening to other folk too. The app keeps making me log in OVER and OVER and OVER for EACH social network after a few hours. Very annoying when you just maybe want to read some statuses, or just quickly update one. It’s NOT an issue with security as Ovi Store remembers my password and I can easily make purchases without ever typing my password. This is why I go to other apps and even bookmarked twitter sites like tweetgo as that’s just left signed in. Perhaps it’s to prevent the old Frape or “Facebook Rape” (basics are that your status is abused, possibly many other features of your profile but that’s not possible even if you are logged in to social app as it’s very limited.
  • Ovi Log in fail. Maybe it’s just me. The initial OVI account log in was also somewhat difficult (required to even let you sign in to twitter/facebook). I already had an account but got convinced mine  got deleted when I was allowed to sign in again with THE SAME email address and THE SAME phone number which is now associated with a +1 account I will NEVER use. Shame really as when you do this, if you switch your phone to say another new S^3 device, the phone picks up your account name.
  • Missing Features: There’s a few. Main ones for me – Twitter: When clicking a tweet there’s no retweeting, option to DM. Just reply. Facebook: photo tagging.
  • Stop re-inventing the wheel with a cube: It’s an absolute shame we do not have an official twitter or facebook app that’s to the grade on other platforms. We have the AWESOME gravity twitter for years folks have wanted Nokia to make their official twitter app (but would @janole have gotten the same room to keep giving us new awesome features?). e.g. Tweetie 2 now twitter for iPhone. Though iPhone has a crapload of great twitter apps. Gravity is really the only decent option. On a side note, Mark Guim from TheNokiaBlog says that “Nokia is looking at partnerships – no more looking to buy or make everything” – Bloomberg (orig article) says something’s coming on 23rd of Nov and Mark asked what Partnerships you’d like to see to which James Whatley commented: How about a parnership with @janole for their social client? YES PLEASE.
  • Well, let’s end on a positive. It’s free, the single stream is great if you connect your twitter and facebook friends together so they all get the same statuses – the facebook calendar/events integration with phone calendar is great if you’re a facebook user. It’s kind of OK once you’re signed in and perhaps in a few months time after a truck load of polishing we can all sing social app’s praises.

btw – These RANTS are not simply to bash Nokia but are little nudges in hope for improvement because we know Nokia can certainly do better.

What about you guys – any issues or improvements you’d like to see with the Social App?

Rant: Fixing Nokia’s Symbian Touch Camera UI – Perfecting the Nokia N8 Camera experience

November 13, 2010 10 comments

The Nokia N8 undeniably has the best phone camera on the market. It also has a pedigree of great flexibility in terms of camera options  – white balance, colour tone, camera grids, scene modes, ISO, exposure, contrast, and sharpness (note lack of continuous shooting mode as seen in the likes of the N95).

However, like a common theme in Symbian – so much GREAT features buried in ridiculous menus.What’s worse is that much of my camera UI woes was SOLVED with MAEMO 5 (as well as a nice feature in N900 of always remembering last used setting), yet for some unfathomable reason Symbian gets a camera UI that only Dr. Robert Langdon would be pleased to use.

Check out this post and video:

Video: Nokia N900 Camera Interface – why it’s better than what’s on the N97

On the plus side, Symbian has improved somewhat from the S60 5th version.

  • We have a single video/camera button switch where the touch-screen shutter-button used to be, and
  • said shutter-button has now moved to the bottom middle (i.e. no need to press options>video mode – who ever thought this was a good idea in the first place needs their head examining).
  • Also really cool is that multitouch pinch in/out to change photo/video resolution.

One of my many complaints with S60 5th version and now also with S^3 is that there is sooo much screen realty that’s wasted. You have a huge screen yet Nokia insists on keeping the buttons on one side, with what I feel a very stupid space hungry zoom bar on the left which is very redundant given the dedicated zoom buttons.

For those who like taking photos single handed portrait like it’s 2004 you can. Just hold the N8 in portrait and press that touch-shutter button. Similarly, this doesn’t really affect single handed landscape use.

So All together:

Symbian Camera UI Problems:

  • Too many button clicks. Either due to being buried under menus or because I still need double tap in certain areas.
  • settings/options buried under menus (e.g. there’s a completely different set of settings if you click the big options. Things such as geo-tagging – what if I only want a select photos to be geotagged. I have to keep wading through menus)
  • Screen area wasted
  • Camera forgets your last used settings (yes I’m aware of user defined profile but that’s not as convenient).

Note: These are very quick paint jobs, I didn’t bother making it look pretty, but you should get the gist of what I’m trying to portray.

Note 2: I understand that there are differences between certain Symbian Touch cameras, i.e. autofocus not available, certain settings like Sport not available but that should stop generally improving the interface to be less of a hassle to use.

SOLUTION 1

Why not, for goodness sake, place an added row of icons to the left? It’s not a new train of thought, other camera phones have sported this.

  • Note in the image below we have rearranged the right column of icons to include scene mode and photos. (Not camera UI thing, but it would be nice if somehow the camera could automatically recognize the need for macro mode)
  • On the right are commonly used settings including white balance, colour tone and the camera grid.
  • This makes it easier to use the camera with two hands as now the left can do something other than attempt to use the zoom bar.
  • With more icons on show, you can get to most of your required settings in TWO/2 taps. Not 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6.
  • The spanner “options/settings/cam menu” button persists in this situation to get at the other icons that aren’t immediately visible
  • The icons on the left can auto hide to give more an unobstructed viewfinder, which returns once touched.
  • What if you can SWYPE around the camera options, i.e. if I press “flash” I don’t have to lift my finger off the screen, just drag to “Red Eye” or whatever.

Another important change I’d like to see is for that dang list in scene mode to disappear.

Why the heck would you have scrollable scene modes when you can fit everything in one screen? It is incredibly annoying to scroll down a list when you don’t need to.

Also – PLEASE, if I tap ONCE select and let me take a photo. I don’t want to have to double tap (lilke current method) and then have to press back to get rid of the camera menu.

SOLUTION 2: Icon scrolling

  • Here you can scroll up and down the left coloumn to see the rest of the other camera settings.
  • This might be a touch confusing but you can imagine it like a dedicated digital camera’s dial. Perhaps there could be a dial interface (with said graphical appearance).

Solution 3: Icon slide

  • Here the camera “settings/options” spanner has been replaced by the self timer. These are generally the most used icons I’d say for the camera.

To get at the rest of the icons just swipe/slide the left column of icons to the right. Something could be done to make this more visually appealing, but as said, is just to demonstrate a concept.If the Maemo folks can do it, I don’t see why the Symbian guys can’t. Then again having said that, look at the browser fiasco.

Are you happy with the N8 Camera UI? What would you change about it?

Categories: Nokia, Nseries, Symbian, Video Tags: , , , ,

RANT: 5 Reasons MSNBC tech writer is clueless about Nokia. Refutation to 5 Reasons Nokia’s N8 Won’t Beat the iPhone 4

September 26, 2010 122 comments

IMAGE i think by tnkgrl

I was in the middle of my PBL Case research of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia when I saw this post on MSNBC

5 Reasons Nokia’s N8 Won’t Beat the iPhone 4

It’s not meant to. The Nokia N8 is just a starting foot in the door. Look at the darn price, dammit! And beating in what way exactly? The N8 is a mid-High range phone at a really great price point. When Nokia produce a high end, you’ll know about it. It’s called N8+1. or N9. And it runs MeeGo.

1. Weak processor. Nokia claims the N8 has a “lightning-fast processor” and is capable of rendering graphics and playing videos and games “smoother and faster” than previous Nokia smartphones.

Technically, Nokia is right, because its last smartphone, the N97, ran on a 434MHz processor, while the N8 runs at 680MHz. However, to call the N8’s processor “lightning-fast” is a misnomer. The iPhone 4, HTC’s Evo 4G, Motorola’s Droid 2, and Samsung’s Galaxy S all run on a more powerful 1GHz processor. Comparing the N8 processor to these models is like comparing an Oldsmobile to a Lamborghini.

How many times must we repeat it that it’s NOT just about the processor? The N8 has a class leading broadcom GPU which takes a load OFF the processor.

This is about as ignorant and STUPID as comparing MEGAPIXELS on a camera. A shitty £50 14mp camera is nothing compared to maybe your old 5MP DSLR.

I can’t deny that iPhone 4 is nippy. But the reasoning behind this point is utterly clueless.

In Benchmark tests does the N8 GPU not beat iPad? Pushing More triangles than iPad?

How come you can point out that this is faster than previous smartphones only works because previous Nokia smartphones was low but still marvel at the “New” and “Magical” features that are positively ancient to every other smartphone except the beloved iPhone?

2. Low memory. For a top-end smartphone, the N8 has a low memory capacity. The device has only 256MB of SDRAM, while its high-end rivals boast twice as much. If you run too many applications at once, the N8 will quickly succumb to the pressure.

Yes. Because they have obviously USED the N8 and seen it choke whilst doing REAL multitasking. Again with the numbers.

The N900 has 256MB RAM. To compare iPhone 4 multitasking with N900 would be utterly blasphemous. Like N900, N8 also uses virtual RAM (though to what extent I’m not sure of) But what is sure is that again, it’s not all about numbers. Symbian, like Maemo was designed with multitasking in mind. Not as an afterthought.

3. Symbian OS. Although Symbian OS is N8’s strength, it is also its biggest weakness.

According to Gartner, even though Symbian OS will have controlled 40.1% of the smartphone market in 2010, it will witness a sharp drop to 30.2% by 2014. The only OS expected to gain ground over the period is Google‘s Android platform, whose market share will surge from 17.7% in 2010 to 29.6% in 2014. But even Research In Motion, Apple, and Microsoft are expected to lose less OS share than Nokia will.

According to CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood, Nokia’s new smartphones were “critical” in the fight to grab market share, but the Symbian software, despite refinements aimed at making it easier for developers to write apps for the phones, was “not positioned to challenge the iPhone.”

“Nobody doubts Nokia’s credentials. It has the market share but has lost the mindshare,” Wood said. “Nokia, along with all the other mobile manufacturers, has been wrongfooted by Apple and Google, and it will be a tough road to recovery.”

There’s nothing to set Symbian apart from its competition, and that’s contributing to its sharp decline. Symbian devices are also unable to update beyond the core system software with which they shipped. Updates are an essential part of how smartphones work — not only to offer bug fixes, but also to introduce new features and develop brand equity and loyal users. Android, BlackBerry OS, and Apple’s iOS all offer upgrade paths beyond core system updates. For instance, users of the two-year-old 3G iPhone can upgrade their device from iOS 2.0 to iOS 4.1. Likewise, anyone who got a Motorola Droid last year can switch from Android 2.0 to Android 2.2. But Nokia has historically not supported a commercial upgrade path for older Symbian-based devices.

Since the N95, Nokia has not made a significant change to Symbian. S^1 was simply S60 3rd slapped on Touch. The previous handsets were pretty dud. Now Nokia has S^3 which is partnered with better hardware. C6-01, C7 and E7 all have the same CPU+GPU as the N8. And they’re all priced way cheaper than iPhone 4.

Nokia has managed to maintain and grow smartphone market share without releasing S^3.  What more with these new devices and a slew of S^4, S^5, S^6 not to mention MeeGo for US penetration? With Qt, the app ecosystem will grow to cover cross platform compatibility, negating fragmentation.

Symbian has offered new features in firmware upgrades – admittedly not as big as a whole OS upgrade. As for 2 year old iPhone 3G wanting iOS 4.0 Have you seen how they lock up? Have you seen the complaints of users wanting to roll back because that hardware is not meant for that hungry OS? Sure it’s nice to have the option. It would be great for Nokia to allow S^3 handsets to have S^4 and beyond. Perhaps, Nokia, give them a stark warning that they’re phone running well on S^3 will brick upon S^4 and leave it at their decision.

Plus, a lot of these “NEW” features and upgrade paths, they come as standard on Nokia Symbian phones. You know, like a whole upgrade for WALLPAPER, MULTITASKING, FOLDERS, VIDEO CALLING. I think I hear 2005 calling.

Symbian as an OS is great. The UI has not been so. But both are improving, the latter significantly, and more so with S^4 and the major change in UI and overall UX.

4. Internal battery. Like the iPhone, the N8’s battery is sealed inside the unit. Nokia has recommended that N8 users not try replacing the battery. “It can easily be replaced at a Nokia service center,” the company said in a blog post.

So, how is this a reason against the N8 for not being able to beat the iPhone when they have an identical feature of a non easily removable battery? Could they not think of a valid reason not even to back up this statement? And in bold, “INTERNAL BATTERY” as opposed to what? Every phone has an internal battery. Or is iPhone 4 actually powered by your jobsian lust for magical revolutionary overly expensive chunks of plastic and metal?

This non-removable battery has not apparently affected those iPhone 2G, 3G, 3Gs and 4 customers. But of course, now it’s in a Nokia that’s completely bad. Never mind that iPhone 4 still has non removable battery. I still don’t understand how this is supposed to be a reason for the iPhone against the N8.

5. Price. The N8 will cost $549 in the United States. Meanwhile, you can get a 32GB iPhone 4 for $299 by signing a two-year contract with AT&T. Other top-end smartphones — including the BlackBerry Torch 9800, Droid 2, Evo 4G, and Samsung Galaxy S — are available at subsidized prices between $149 and $249 when you sign with a provider.

Not surprisingly, some observers believe that Nokia’s insistence on selling its devices unsubsidized and without operator input represents an arrogance on the company’s part that has become its pitfall.

Are you shitting me? Price is a reason AGAINST the Nokia N8? This is the most value for money phone to date. Do you think Nokia WANT to sell their phones only through unlocked, unsubsidized channels? And do you also think that the N8 is going to be sold ONLY in the US where of course, perhaps in the world meant for this article is the only thing that exists in this universe. The N8 will be sold through ALL UK carriers, Vodafone alone has over 33 contract plans, with the FREE Nokia N8 for 25GBP. That’s FREE. You know, you pay nothing. Free seems to be 299 dollars cheaper.

It is rumoured that N8 maybe coming to AT&t though perhaps that is instead the C6-01.  Who knows if the other S^3 devices will be met by other NAM carriers. They are PENTABAND handsets.

Conclusion
The N8 is no iPhone killer. It may also have a hard time competing with other leading smartphones. But analysts suggest that the N8 represents a good start from a company that’s always struggled in the high-margin smartphone segment and could herald the start of a good fight toward smartphone leadership.

REPEAT. It was never meant to be. But we needed a provocative title, right? Tick, good job there.

A company that’s always struggled in the high-margin smartphone segment? ALWAYS? Oh, you mean since the days when smartphones began, as in when iPhone began? Discounting pretty much the smartphones before then and the stranglehold Nokia had on smartphones (and let’s not forget, they aren’t number 5, number 4, number 3 or number 2. But still number 1).

Again Nokia has stumbled. It has taken FAR, FAR, FAR too long for them to respond. But here is that foot in the door. C6-01, C7, E7 and N8 with low to mid-high range PRICES.

Conclusion – the writer is either ignorant of Nokia and tech in general or just wanted to post a provocative but baseless article.

Now Nokia, just do your bit and make sure these phones are tight. Make good with your support. And advertise THE HELL out of them. It’s pretty much all about PERCEPTION, PERCEPTION, PERCEPTION still as joe average is still clueless as to why he wants anything. He needs a bit of push, and there’s no good in being meek and humble about it. Shove your product in their faces.

-Rant over.

update: A link from GSM Arena Comment: It’s not all Gloom and Doom – the LONG term Nokia Strategy. (Hope it won’t be too long eh?)

Categories: Nokia, Nseries, Rant Tags: , ,

Nokia and the Long Term Strategy – It’s NOT all gloom and doom. Awesome things coming soon.

July 22, 2010 29 comments

It’s not all gloom and doom as “analysts” and certain blogs would have us believe.

Today, 22nd July 2010, Nokia reported Q2 earnings. Despite the fierce competition from all fronts, and without their best fighters on the front line, their smartphone market share still went up to 41%. Some other numbers are less flattering, and understandably so given the lack of new flagship. Many of your industry ‘analysts’ will concentrate on this and will spell yet again gloom, doom and death of Nokia.

  • “Nokia aren’t competing at the high end”
  • “Nokia fail to understand the smartphone market”
  • “Nokia are playing catchup to superior handset makers Apple, and the host of Android manufacturers”.
  • “Nokia’s Ovi store is lagging behind App Store”
  • “Nokia hasn’t got good, slim touch screen phone”
  • “It’s all about Android”
  • “Nokia missed the boat and should make an Android device”
  • “Nokia should have bought Palm and made WebOS devices”
  • “Nokia are making little progress”
  • “Nokia’s market share is collapsing”
  • “Nokia’s losing market share to Apple and Android”
  • Insert own negative Nokia comment.

Nokia still sold equal amounts of phones to RIM, Apple and HTC combined. But being that it’s Nokia, that’s of course a failure, especially if we compare operating margins and profits against Apple. (But then again, Apple is selling one extremely premium device, amongst it’s premium and arguably overpriced devices. Apple’s operating margin is higher than all of their competitors)

Operating margins were low, profits (though still in hundreds of millions) were down. Average price of handsets was down to 61EUR. Nokia handsets aren’t necessarily bad – on the contrary, they’re well priced for the features they hold. But this means lower profit margins on these cheaper, value for money handsets.

Note: for still at least a month there will be no high end handset to raise the average.

Nothing new in this post but worth reiterating as analysts and certain blogs seem oblivious to Nokia’s very open strategy (especially cringe worthy to hear now, suggestions of moving to Android).

The LONG TERM strategy

Thinking ahead - reap what you sow.

Since the N95, Nokia has been in an intermediate transition stage. Phones in between (to me) felt like they were just there to keep some attention on Nokia. N85, N96, N97. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out to ultimately be positive attention.

In one sense, Nokia’s given iPhone and its competitors an easy ride. S60 wasn’t ready for touch screen. Nokia slapped a touch screen on and voila, S60 5th edition, with its annoyances to boot. Even better for competitors, Nokia gave their S60 5th Edition flagship gloriously underpowered hardware that makes it even harder to use it. Try S60 5th/S^1 on the Samsung i8910 – capacitive screen, faster hardware – it makes S60 5th slightly more palatable (even more so with certain cooked firmwares as default sammy one is missing quite a few features).

Nokia gave us a hint that they do have a very decent game plan with the N900 and MAEMO 5. Nokia were extremely quick to point out that this remarkable handset (which was everything we were waiting for on the power side) was only step 4 of 5 at Nokia World. Software was great, power and potential was amazing. Why dampen down the excitement with this killer honesty?

Step 5 is MeeGo, Nokia’s new open source and and Modern OS for mobile computers. And Nokia aren’t doing this alone; MeeGo is equally the child of the Intel, with a significant amount of partners lined up to make MeeGo devices. Qt which makes app development much easier also gives that cross platform advantage that means the same app will run on any Qt compatible device, whether that be your S^3 N8/C7/X7/E7, S^4 “E9”, or MeeGo N9/Tablet/Car infotainment etc. To those wanting apps, apps, apps, they’ll come. We’ve seen the N900 and N8 play those “iPhone Grade” games with ease. As a content producer/developer, would you restrict yourself from increasing your audience and revenue? As to distribution, MeeGo/Qt apps will be available through the Universal App Up Store from Intel or Nokia’s Ovi Store, the 3rd most popular behind App Store and Getjar.

Nokia World 2010 – ‘sleeping giant’ sets alarm for September 2010 to do some ass kicking.

Nokia’s LONG TERM strategy, transitioning to high end with quality user experience on touch optimized handsets starts coming to fruition this September (14th and 15th) at Nokia World 2010. The N8 may already be released around then, along with announcements of the rumoured super slim, 4″ screen N8 QWERTY (E7? RM-626) and the long awaited MeeGo Phone (N9?) which we all have high hopes on.

Remember our interview with Alberto Torres, Nokia EVP; MeeGo Computers.

  • MeeGo phone will push the boudaries of processing power
  • MeeGo phone will be a very high end product
  • MeeGo is an opportunity to create something well beyond what others are doing
  • MeeGo phone is step 5 of 5 and intended for mass market
  • MeeGo phone will be something everyone wants to own
  • MeeGo phone will try to satisfy all needs into one plate
  • MeeGo phone will be capacitive, more stylish and more beautiful with simpler UI that average users will find as equally compelling as tech leaders.
  • MeeGo has potential to be something deeper than typical smartphone
  • Nokia N8 will be Nokia’s flagship in a few months
  • All future flagships will be built on MeeGo
  • MeeGo phone will be on Nseries (not rumoured Sseries)
  • MeeGo will have higher experience level than Symbian
  • Symbian^3 and MeeGo will have certain minimum base level specification to ensure apps created on one device works in another.
  • N8 is first step in reclaiming momentum at high end.
  • MeeGo is the next step.

Much hope rests on MeeGo phone to be all it has promised to be, all it has expected to be and more. We’ve seen MeeGo on the netbook which has received positive reviews. We’ve seen MeeGo on the tablet, which looks extremely impressive. Finally, MeeGo on phones got a brief preview, and Eldar Murtazin says himself that Nokia’s own version of the UI will look much better than what we’ve seen on the Aava Mobile (and N900 with MeeGo).

N8 and future Symbian Devices

But a lot rests also with the remarkable multimedia machine, the N8 which has tantalized us since April and the almost DSLR rivalling camera. To outsiders of Nokia, that’s the only gun Nokia’s got in their holster (not realising the basement full of weapons being prepped in secret). There is a team of all stars in training. You know their names, you’ve seen one in leaked shots. Without them, Nokia has remained profitable and held ground with the substitutes (S^1 and S603rd and S40 handsets). What more when they come out on the pitch?

But all but one are Symbian devices…Symbian?

Symbian-Foundation really is just that for Nokia, a foundation of their core smartphone experience. As much as everyone else but Nokia would like Symbian to die (it’s the most used smartphone OS, why wouldn’t you want it to die if you were the competitor?) it’s here to stay and why not? Symbian will get better as it receives updates to the user experience to make it in line with today’s expectations.

Maturity of Symbian is a strength not a weakness – it’s highly advanced in terms of features and just needs a facelift in the UI to make the final user experience pleasant, thus ensuring people can use the plethora of features it’s had for many years that some are only recently praising as wonderful and new.

We’ve seen these usability issues addressed in Symbian^3. For the most of it, it will be good enough for the majority of its intended users. Symbian^4 is the real visual refit as we move to Qt/Orbit based UI from the traditional AVKON.

It’s pretty obvious but OPK confirmed more S^3 handsets coming soon in today’s Q2 report

In smartphones, we continue to renew our portfolio. We believe that the Nokia N8, the first of our Symbian^3 devices, will have a user experience superior to that of any smartphone Nokia has created. The Nokia N8 will be followed soon thereafter by further Symbian^3 smartphones that we are confident will give the platform broader appeal and reach, and kick-start Nokia’s fightback at the higher end of the market

Awesome things are on the horizon.

It takes time to turn around a big ship, and Nokia being the number 1 phone manufacturer is the biggest of them all.

Rest assured, Nokia are aware of the increasing competition and aren’t taking things lightly. Services are improving. Awesome handsets are coming. Hopefully, with a touch of marketing flair to do these products justice (perhaps not to the extent of a Reality Distortion Field, though whether Nokia and everyone needs one to even all the marketing confusion is another post altogether).

Here’s a fantastic comment by JFH in the previous post that pretty much mirrors the sentiment of this post:

I know very well that Nokia realised, even before the N97, they were caught off guard by the emergence of touchscreen phones as a status symbol. They were caught off guard when they were building services. At the worst possible time for them.

Since then they have managed to make Ovi maps in a gem of an asset, the Ovi store the 3rd most popular online store, and they expect to have 300 Million ovi services users.

They refocused on hardware & OS, and in my mind built a stellar device with the N900. Now that S^3 is here, S^4 is coming, MeeGo is coming, NFC, Pentaband, all that stuff is coming, with Qt, the way is up from the moment they announce all of this at Nokia World. I expect them to make a splash.

They have basically stayed profitable in the WORST time they have ever had, and they have made the right choices, technologically, strategically, and morally. They have gone through a storm, have continued to focus on long term investments instead of panicking, picking up Android and running with it.

They have 10 Billion is cash. The majority of patents in LTE. They build the largest LTE roll out to date at 7 Billion dollars. None of their new batch of devices is out yet, not even the N8. With an N8, N9, E7, X7, C7 coming out, their entire all star line up is absent, while the rest is digging their grave with the CPU MHZ wars.

Nokia is profitable, as opposed to what we see from Sammy of SE usually, because they have lower costs. Lower production costs, higher volumes, etc. They will not and should not give this away. What they should do is retain the cost advantage without skimping on performance.

THAT is the reason they wont pick up android. It turns them into Asus, or Dell, box pushers that compete on price on similar hardware & software: STUPID. And it is the smart way to go. I completely believe S^3/S^4 will give us equally snappy performance as competitors, but with lesser specs. Those specs are irrelevant, its experience that counts. And Nokia is betting it can deliver the same experience through cheaper chips, because Symbian is simply better at it.

For going all out, for getting perception turn positive again, for getting the spotlight back on Espoo, what better way to do this than lead the way in moving from smartphones to mobile computers. Did you see what just happened with FCam. Think you can do that on iOS?

So we have Nokia, Intel, & Linux foundation working on MeeGo. We already have seen a preview that looks already as shiny or better than the stuff that is out there now. BUT: Its a full real OS. Not iOS, not “look im a java VM” Android, but a real operating system. One that could run open office, or gimp, or what have you. The N9 will be a leap forward. Its the reason no one has seen it yet.

I know it has been said before, but wait and see.JFH

So….

Before you lose all hope in Nokia, just remember what’s coming at Nokia World 2010. Awesome things coming soon.

Categories: Nokia, Rant Tags: , ,

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!

Why the Nokia N8 WON’T be like the Nokia N97. Nokia N8 vs Nokia N97.

June 4, 2010 33 comments

Click X now or prepare for a mighty wall of text.

For crimes against the smartphone and flagship name.

This time last year, we were all in anticipation of Nokia’s hottest flagship – the Nokia N97. A year later, N97 is a dirty word, encapsulating Nokia’s failure to understand the high end.

Unfortunately, many N97 users got burned. Myself included. Although there was some initial love, eventually, it easily provoked frustration like a troll. Many firmware updates eased certain annoyances, but even this was not enough. It was so bad, even Nokia acknowledged this disaster.

Whilst N97 sold quite well and indeed it’s baby sibling, N97 mini, the N97 damaged Nokia’s reputation (especially amongst tech enthusiasts, even Nokia and Symbian lovers alike) pushing them to other platforms. Thank God for the N900 showing me at least that there are some at Nokia who know what they’re doing. Unfortunately for Nokia, the N97 was the last straw and many left Nokia’s greeny-blue pastures completely (and some strengthening their disdain for Nokia). [And even worse for those trapped in a contract with N97]

Now with the imminent release of the Nokia N8, many are (and rightfully so) apprehensive whether they’ll be getting a touch of déjà vu. In all fairness, the N97 isn’t completely all that bad. There are some users who still enjoy it. Nonetheless, this battered reputation for the N97 will never be rescued. It is best put aside and forgotten. And what better way to forget than setting things right with the Nokia N8?

Here’s some reasons why you can rest some of those fears. With Nokia aknowledging mistakes in the N97, they also learned NEVER to repeat them.

1. N8 has the best overall hardware of all the Nseries.

N97 was basically the N96 in a different form factor.

N97 and endless hard reset was really pushing me to the brink. Looking at the positive side, this N97 problem brought a lot of traffic to mynokiablog.com (which is a bad sign showing many users in same fate)

  • 5mp cam, no xenon, nHD mono audio video recording.
  • N97 had resistive TFT screen
  • Meak, single CPU, no dedicated GPU.
  • Anorexic RAM
  • Microscopic C drive for apps.
  • Plastic body, plastic screen. Scratch ahoy!
  • Relatively chunky due to the so so QWERTY keyboard that had different tactile feedback between different N97s. Some OK, some appalling.
  • Self destructing lens cover
  • Paint peeling
  • Never ending need for a hard reset.
  • Was priced as the flagship. 550 EUR Unsubsidised, minus tax.

Nokia N8

  • 12MP, largest sensor on a mobile device, 28mm wide angle, xenon flash, 720p HD stereo audio recording!

We finally see a successor of both N82 and N86. N8 wields a mighty camera and video recorder. You can be snap happy and be confident that photos and videos you take will look great. Since using the N97 (and to an extend the N900) I’ve been taking photos less. Often resorting back to a digital camera or the trusty Nokia N82.

Had the N97 simply had xenon flash, I’d still find uses for it. Now every time I try to come back to it, I’m just left with a bitter taste in my mouth and a longing to jump back to Maemo 5 where everything just works.

  • N8 has capacitive AMOLED display with multitouch

Whilst S60 5th was already difficult to interact with as a touch interface, the claggy resistive screen made it even more of a pain. It’s not necessarily resistive vs capacitive, it’s just that capacitive would have been the easiest answer to providing that feather light touch.

Note that the N900 has resistive screen but it’s extremely sensitive. If you compare N97 with Capacitive S^1 counterparts like X6 or i8910, even though it’s still S^1, the capacitive phones feel much better, simply because with flicks and swipes, you want that delicate touch, not a shove.

AMOLED display should also give N8 users brighter, more vivid colours (and some N8 users have said readability outdoors is not an issue – though need to see for myself)

  • Arm 11 680MHz CPU with dedicated (Broadcom?) GPU.

I won’t (more can’t) go into CPU numbers other than noting that S^3 is more GPU based. The OS is more reliant on the GPU. (There are many factors involved too. Pricing maybe.) But what is important to know is that processor number is not the end all and be all.

  • 256MB RAM –

well, this should have been the minimum in 2009 and it would have been great to see 512 or 1GB RAM, but Symbian enthusiasts will poke you and say Symbian does not need that much. (Symbian maybe, but what about 3rd party apps used to guzzling RAM.) N8 videos of Proto/preproduction firmware shows N8 multitasking 15 apps simultaneously with ease – though whether it can do the same with third party, RAM hungry apps will be another matter.

  • Anodized aluminium build, slim, keyboardless, with glass screen. Lighter too.

N8 has somewhat more of a premium build and should stand up to more knocks than the virtually all plastic ensemble N97. With glass screen, there maybe an increased risk of shattering, but none more so than other glass capacitive screens on other devices.

The N8 is also much slimmer. 12.9mm and fits the hand and more important, pocket better than previous Nokia touch devices.

  • No lens cover –

hardened glass to prevent scratching (though I am concerned with smudging destroying photos – though iPhone/5800 etc users have managed well without).

This issue has fixed in later N97 builds and you could drop your N97 off at Nokia care for repair. But this should never have been an issue in the first place.

  • HDMI out with Dolby Digital Surround sound

N97 had great VGA tv out. The N8 has that too. But on top of this, the N8 has HDMI out to display your photos, HD clips and movies in glorious high definition.

  • N8 has pentaband 3G so it should work on all 3G networks globally (bar CDMA)
  • Other great stuff like Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11N wifi and dual charging options via standard Nokia Pin and MicroUSB as well as USB on the go

A feature seemingly welcomed by the masses. With USB OTG, you can plug USB sticks, pen drive, external hard drives and other phones to the N8 and access their stored files. Combine this with HDMI out and you’ve got a portable movie player. Though the N8 already has MicroSD storage and 16GB on board memory to fill up.

  • N8 is more adequately priced. 370 EUR Unsubsidized, minus tax, and is NOT the main Nokia flagship.

Whilst the features suggest flagship, being better in almost every way compared to the N97, the N8’s price suggests otherwise, starting at 180 EUR lower (minus tax and subsidies).

It’s a debate whether the N8 is THE Nokia flagship. At that price, lack of proper launch event and being titled a “symbian flagship”, this suggests more to come at the high end for Nokia.

What this is about, as J. Fourgeaud would say, is managing expectations. Like the 5800, the N8 gives you a lot of bang for the buck.

2. N97 was on S60 5th Edition. N8 is on Symbian^3.

It’s not an OS issue. Symbian is a mature OS with features the others could only dream of. But clunky UIs prohibit the seamless use of those features.

Superficially S^1 and S^3 are extremely similar. But at the core there are many subtle changes and tweaks to the UI that makes S^3 more suited to a touch interface than S^1 which was basically S60 with a touch screen slapped on.

Whilst it’s not perfect and not the big change everyone’s been expecting (that comes with S^4 and of course, the all mighty MeeGo) Symbian^3 fixes many of the critical issues from S^1 making it much more of a pleasure to use. Single tap consistency whilst minor change is a huge improvement.

Users on proto/preproduction firmware have voiced praise with S^3. More importantly, these are the users who were failed by N97.

The combination of S^3 with a faster processor, dedicated GPU and more RAM should make N8 and S^3 a completely different experience to S^1 on the N97.

My N97’s favourite past time was to freeze, crash and eventually require hard reset. I did give it the benefit of the doubt of being faulty, but so many other users have been experiencing the same frustrations.

S^3 may also offer up other new features. e.g. N8 and S^3 also apparently plays .avi/.DivX movies fine, something which we needed alternative apps for.

3. N8 will have better apps.

N8 is the first Nokia device to bring Qt out of the Box. Qt is Nokia’s solution for cross platform apps, making app development easier too.

Apps made for one platform, e.g. Symbian can easily be shared onto say, Maemo or MeeGo, reducing fragmentation and increasing audience sizes.

We’ve already seen some fantastic gaming titles from EA, such as Sims 3, NFS Shift and Monopoy as well as Asphalt 5 from Gameloft coming soon on the N8. This demonstrates the N8 as a capable platform unlike with the N97 which could barely manage versions of the same games from 1980.

Where it might N8 stumble?

  • Battery life. Non easily removable battery

1200mAh? Hmm. Reports from users and claims from Nokia say it would equal or better the N97 (which has 1500mAh). I’ve got my Proporta Portable Charger if I ever do need to use the N8 heavily for a full day.

  • The web browser.

This is my biggest fear with Symbian^3. How will the browser fare? I’m not too convinced by early demo videos. Plus, N900 and MicroB has set my expectations extremely high with Maemo5’s Mozilla based desktop like performance. Then again, they are non-final firmware.

Alternative browsers include Opera Mobile of course, which will provide a closer desktop like experience (moins flash).

  • Mono Speakers

Though much better than both N97’s speakers combined as these speakers are loud and clear not tinny like N97.

  • Symbian^3 quirks

S^3 UI may still be confusing and may lag. Certain videos and quick personal demos show otherwise, but it’s worth being cautious.

  • 3.5″ nHD screen may not be enough for some

For mass market, 3.5″ might be most ideal, though technology leaders may want larger 4-4.3″ screens with at least WVGA resolution.

  • Lack of physical QWERTY keyboard

Physical buttons may have drawn early N97 users and those same people might not be willing to give up an interface without real hard buttons.

Larger 4″ with QWERTY may appear at Nokia World 2010 with the rumoured Nokia E7.

Conclusion: N8 has what it takes to be successful, both for Nokia and for end user.

All in all, it seems the N8 is not destined to follow the same tumbling path of the N97.

The N8 has a much wider target audience than the N97.  With the stupendous camera alone, it carves itself within the market of those interested in mobile photography, video and over all just fantastic imaging any time anywhere. This couldn’t be said for the N97.

The N8 makes for a fantastic gaming device. As titles trickle in, you’ll enjoy the N8 for its gaming capabilities too. N97 wasn’t really blessed on the games side. There were some uber simple games. There was also a brief stint with N-Gage but the execution was flawed and of course that died.

The N8 is a great video and music player out of the box, with wider codec support for video needing less conversion. Unless you had SmartMovie by Lonely Cat Games, you were pretty much limited in the videos your N97 could play.

At it’s core, Symbian delivers all of your expected smartphone and telephony functionalities. This is shared between N8 and N97, except that N8 has a touch more polish to it.

The price of course, might make it easier to stomach too than the N97.

Overall, the N8 user experience is really more than just the sum of its parts. Combined, it does seem to equate to a high end multimedia and smartphone experience that can both effortlessly consume media as well as create it.

If all that still isn’t enough to tempt you, as mentioned, for those looking at the big UI changes, this comes with S^4 and revolution arriving via MeeGo. When these OSes mature, we’ll have some unequivocally irresistible offerings from Nokia.

Nokia RANT: Response to Ovum’s “Report” on Nokia’s ‘failures’.

March 11, 2010 12 comments
N900 vs X6 vs N97 (7)

N900 vs X6 vs N97

Hmm, I doubt anyone will read this but I couldn’t sleep (trying to finish off some presentations…meh, they want us to use OHP :[) and seeing these “reports” circulated got me kinda worked up.

I haven’t made a proper Nokia rant in a while. Nokia’s been churning a lot of awesome sauce since N900 (Free Ovi Maps Navigation, Increased Q4 profits/market share, MeeGo, Qt, Symbian^3/4, Improved S60V5 Ovi Store, and generally other N900 related things). Check out this article from Mobile Industry Review: Nokia is back and beginning to rock

I read digitime’s take on Ovum’s “report” yesterday morning but ignored it as nonsense Nokia bashing bandwagon. But I’m seeing more sources passing off “reports”, e.g. V3 which have NO backing other than passing of “he said, she said”

Now I like ranting against Nokia and I’ll be the first to jump on Nokia bashing bandwagons – BUT only when it’s warranted. Let’s take the N97 as it’s such an easy shot.

  • Nokia made huge mistake in not giving N97 more RAM. Huge failure. Ignore the numbers of 128MB ram, at startup you get around what – 40MB if you’re lucky?
  • N97 should have been at least on 500MHz just for the sake of longevity (ideally the expected 600MHz). i.e. it was ok for use for a month of release but felt out dated soon after, and gets so much more painful to use when ever you try out faster competitors.
  • N97 perhaps should have had a capacitive screen. I know there are those that are happy with resistive. I personally prefer the feather touch sensitivity that capacitive offers and don’t mind the frequently mentioned trade offs.
  • N97 was bestowed with a miniscule amount of C: memory. 32GB memory but around 50MB for app installation. A few firmwares kinda sorted it out whereby any installating to E: no longer phantomly depleted C:.
  • N97 has appalling quality control – batches weren’t all manufactured at the same standard.
  • Symbian^1 and it’s awful bugginess, lacklustre appeal – seemingly S60 3rd edition with touch screen, i.e. no  touch optimization was the biggest culprit to anyone’s frustrations with the N97. It has taken half a year and several firmware upgrades to get it to a relatively usable point. This was one of the major reasons O2 CPW ceased selling the N97 due to huge returns – same fate temporarily faced with the Symbian friendly Satio.
  • There’s more but this post isn’t about bashing the N97, just an example to show I like you are very much aware of its faults and I’m not blindly singing Nokia’s praises.

Like I said, I don’t mind if Nokia’s bashed when it’s warranted. I maybe disappointed of Nokia but in cases like the points above, Nokia are indefensible so writers are just reporting it like they see it. It’s a warranted “attack”. But in this case it is not. Let’s take a look at what Ovum (and via V3/digitimes) says about Nokia’s failings.

  1. “Nokia’s current smartphones, including the flagship N97 and N97 mini, run on ARM11 below 500MHz with an anaemic 128MB of RAM, a point that most other platforms have abandoned”

OK. Great. Ovum and co are fine with pointing out the lower specs but ignore publishing N900’s the ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support, 256 MB RAM, 768 MB virtual memory. Note how all sources that will mention this report by Ovum will easily brush this off, see point 2.

1.5 “Nokia’s flagship hardware is underpowered compared to rivals…”

Nokia’s biggest failure is continuing to market the N97 as the flagship. The N900 spins rings around the N97 and most of its competitors. Have you seen how well the N900 multitasks and surfs the entire web with flash?

Everyone knows the Maemo 5 pocket computer is the flagship, whether or not Nokia admit it. Nokia themselves confessed the failures of the N97. I always felt it was some sort of interim solution to keep some attention on Nokia ( i.e. not focus too much resources because something better on the horizon – aka N900) but it has been more detrimental due to poor consumer experiences.

That’s what I hate most about the N97 is that it hyped up so much, promised too many things but not only did not deliver, it contained frustrating faults that you’d be annoyed to see in 2007 let alone 2009. e.g. the constant need for hard reset. (now fixed for me but still affects a lot of users)

Plus, it is not all about hardware specification (even Ovum say it’s not all about clock speed despite the vibe of the article implying otherwise). I can’t find the benchmark tests webpost but the N900 on “only” 600MHz was performing extremely closely to Nexus One’s 1Ghz in rendering web pages. In terms of general UI navigation, iPhone 3G with 412Mhz (less than N97’s 434MHz) is arguably snappier with more appealing UI.

It’s not about numbers. Windows Mobile for quite a while NEEDED much higher spec’d hardware than Symbian as it was resource hungry.

“pound for pound” Nokia handsets can do a lot more with the given hardware. Software wise, Nokia’s have a lot more inbuilt features that I’m surprised competitors have to achieve by 3rd party apps or hacking their phone or waiting 2 years for an update *cough, copy paste, video*.

2. The N900 is the only Nokia handset to use a next-generation chipset, which Renowden described as “surprising” and potentially harmful to the firm’s market share.

Apple only has ONE phone using the next generation chip set. But of course, that doesn’t matter.  As much as I’d like Nokia to SPAM us with high end smartphones like HTC, history says that with Nokia they CANNOT be too hasty. HTC (and Moto) can afford to churn out Android devices one after another as they’re not actively developing the OS, Google is. Maemo (now MeeGo) and Symbian is very much continuing publicly to be a work in progress. Despite the N97 taking 6/7 months after announcement to appear, it still was, a rushed handset.

Nokia have a vast range of smartphones of which a huge proportion cater for the Mid-low end, yet are still smartphones.  E.G. 5230 with ARM 11, 434 MHz. So proportion wise, it seems confusing that the N900 perhaps is the sole handset with next gen chipset. Perhaps the X6 should have been on it too, but that’s another post.

3. “Another area where Nokia is struggling is screen resolution and technology. Of the 20 handsets with highest screen resolution, Nokia has just one – again, the N900”

A slower processor or poor touch-screen resolution affects users’ experiences of devices,

Phones of 2009

  • N900 800×480
  • N97 640X360
  • N97 mini 640 x 360
  • X6 640×360
  • 5530 640×360
  • 5800 640×360
  • 5230 640×360
  • HTC Hero 320×480
  • iPhone 3GS 320×480
  • Palm Pre 320×480

Excuse me, what’s this about Nokia’s poor screen resolution? The N900 is double the iPhone. Yes that’s one. Then there’s the N97, N97 mini, X6, 5530, etc. which are all still higher resolution.

And exactly what is this “highest screen resolution”? 800X480 isn’t the highest anyway available on smartphones today. This is just another blatant smear to paint Nokia as failing.

Please. There are actual places where you could have taken genuine shots at Nokia and I would have sung along with you, but his is just blatant misinformation.

4″A slower processor or poor touch-screen resolution affects users’ experiences of devices,”

Actually, ideally if you had a slower processor, you’d also want a lower screen resolution. The N97 probably would have been faster if it dealt with the lesser 320×480.

Most possibly, it’s to do with being RESISTIVE rather than CAPACITIVE (which the X6 already supports).

How can the Nokia touch phones be criticised on screen resolution when it has higher resolution than the Jebus phone?

Renowden added that the launch of Symbian^3 around the middle of the year could see Nokia announce several new products, but that until then the firm is caught between two stools.

“If Nokia announces new products in the coming months it could hurt sales of devices already on the market. However, due to the lack of announcements, people are wondering what the company has in the pipeline,” he said.

I don’t know what Nokia’s really got coming. Rumoured handsets (N98/N8) have some really enticing specs. The Symbian Roadmap points to tons of good things on Symbian’s future in terms of upcoming hardware to be utilized, such as multiple core processors.

Nokia has mentioned they will be cutting down on number of devices released to focus on some really excellent handsets instead of several diluted and dud ones.

I’d prefer Nokia to take their time and get their new flagship right than rush it and just disappoint everyone, most of all their fans.

The extract of Ovum’s report is available here http://www.ovum.com/news/euronews.asp?id=8453.

and it is the only major manufacturer still producing multiple smartphones in the candy bar/numeric keypad form factor.

And it is the only major phone manufacturer that’s number one in sales and market share? Why? Because of these multiple smarphones in candy bar/numeric keypad (and other factors). Some people just want a cheap phone, with a standard keypad. Because Nokia can accomplish it, that phone just happens to be a smartphone too! e.g. C5

And so what if there’s more than one alphanumeric smartphone from Nokia? If we talk this time on proportion, Nokia’s projected to continue increasing Touch, Touch Qwerty and QWERTY smartphones. Nokia already have 8 touch screen phones (not counting special editions), 7 symbian, and one Maemo.

The real issue maybe Nokia’s immediate ability to respond. They’re a big ship. The biggest one out there and it’s taking a while to make that U-turn. But they’ll definitely do it. The real unknown is whether Nokia will still be sailing in the same waters or if the game has shifted yet again.

It seems to win the next game, it’s not about being the best player, it’s changing the rules so that you’re the only one who scores points.

Categories: Nokia, Nseries, Rant Tags: , , , , ,