Archive for June, 2010
I’ve been using the Nokia E73 Mode as my primary T-Mobile device for the last couple of weeks and as awesome as the N900 is I am finding the utility and ease-of-use of the E73 Mode to be more compelling at the moment. If you are bored with your N900, then you should check out this Android Central post that shows Google Android Froyo 2.2 running on the N900. There are definitely limitations with the build at the moment, but it is pretty slick it runs as well as it does.
I wonder if the issues with the SD card mounting have to do with the fact that there is an integrated flash drive on the N900 since I have seen issue with apps on the HTC Incredible (one of the only Android phones with an integrated flash drive). I am pleased enough with the N900 and Maemo while also having my own Sprint HTC EVO 4G that I do not plan to attempt this port. Any readers try this out? Keep in mind, I am NOT recommending it and just thought it was pretty cool that it is possible.
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There has been a lot of people writing in the press that the N8 is the end of Symbian and other such nonsense. Last Fall Nokia made it clear that future high end devices were going to be powered by Maemo (now MeeGo) so the fact that the Nseries lines is going this way is clearly no surprise to anyone. I think people may be a bit disappointed that the upcoming N8, that hasn’t even been released yet, has a visible end of life. As someone who bought and enjoys using the Nokia N900, I am a bit hesitant to get the N8 since if looks to be following the same pattern. Then again, I switch phones so often that this shouldn’t really matter. Others though do not switch this much and thanks to webOS, Android, and the iPhone people have come to expect their smartphones to be upgradeable for at least the 2 year contract cycle. We have not seen any news that the N8 will be upgradeable to MeeGo so this concerns people who were considering paying for this new flagship device.
We also have not seen much in the way of what MeeGo really means and I am not completely sold that Nokia is all in with this either. Nokia has changed their mind and it seems tough to sell to developers what the path forward is with changes and inconsistencies in your strategy. Rafe assembled an excellent article over on All About Maemo that lays it all out.
I am not a developer, but I do use a lot of applications on my devices. Nokia made several developer announcements today that look to be designed to keep developers or bring more to the Symbian platform. All About Maemo has a good post covering the announcements that I recommend you check out. Unfortunately, I still think the Ovi Store is the lamest online application store of any mobile platform and don’t see any improvements being planned or talked about. With highly profitable stores in the iPhone App Store and Google Android Market I really wonder if developers think it is worth continuing with Symbian. Nokia made five key announcements today to try to encourage continued development and these include:
- Availability of the Nokia Qt Software Development Kit (SDK) 1.0
- Individuals can now register as Ovi Publishers
- Public beta of Nokia signing Symbian apps for free
- Availability of Nokia Smart Installer for Symbian
- Ovi Store intake for Qt apps
The new Nokia Qt SDK allows for cross-platform development for Symbian and Maemo devices and as we know Symbian will continue to be developed for years as MeeGo powers the higher end devices. The Symbian signing change is nice and should hopefully get a few more apps out there. I know I had to manually sign iSMS to get threaded text messaging on my E71, but it was a real pain to go through that process.
All these announcements were made to make it easier for developers to get their apps out to users. Nokia recently released a tool to make website RSS feed app/widgets, but this site was denied because we have Nokia in the name. I actually think populating the Ovi Store with a ton of RSS feed widgets is a bit of a waste anyway so I didn’t try to pursue or get this resolved.
I would like to see some improvements in the Ovi Store myself. I just fine the whole interface to be rather slow, a bit cumbersome to use for explorer apps, and the highly touted recommendation section to offer up lame and undesirable content. I have only purchased a couple of things since it launched and mainly use it to see if I can find new stuff to then go purchase outside the Ovi Store.
I met Eldar several years ago at a Microsoft Mobius event and always have enjoyed his very early look at devices on Mobile Review. Many people jumped on his early Nokia N8 preview and either slammed the device for being subpar or slammed Eldar for posting a review of a device with non-final software. He just posted an extremely detailed look at Symbian^3 that I recommend you check out when you have a few minutes.
As a person who generally likes Symbian S60 5th Edition, I was pleased to read that Symbian^3 indeed builds on and improves it in many ways. We all know it is evolutionary and not revolutionary, but for most current Symbian users that may be just fine while others may move to the iPhone or Android platform. I have a Sprint HTC EVO 4G and have a blast using it with some fantastic apps and services. Eldar states that those of us satisfied with S60 5th Edition will be quite happy with the improvements in Symbian^3, but for others who do not use Symbian it will look like Nokia is playing catch up to Apple.
Eldar has a questionnaire at the end of his review that he is using to capture data from the readers to pass along to Nokia and the Symbian Foundation. I completely understand the fascination with the latest and greatest mobile operating systems (I use them myself too), but there is something to be said about Nokia devices and the Symbian operating system that still has many advantages and outstanding capability.
As a father of three young ladies and a man who has a heart for others I find I enjoy writing about Nokia as a company for what they do outside of creating smartphones. If you followed my CES 2010 live blog you saw that OPK focused on what Nokia is doing to make the world a better place and barely touched on any smartphone news. Nokia issued a press release unveiling the Conspiracy For Good (CFG) movement that blends together interactive theater, mobile and alternate reality gaming, music, and physical participation to effect positive changes in the world. It is a rather unique and interesting program that will improve the Chataika Basic School, located in the village of Chataika in eastern Zambia.
Nokia is partnering with the creator of the “Heroes” TV show in this effort where participants will enter into the story to via online mysteries, casual mobile games, or physical participation in London events that will occur from mid-July through early August. Games such as Exclusion and Mainframe Liberator will be used to unlock codes to confidential websites, Ovi Maps to guide characters through the story, and Ovi Music where hidden information within songs can be deciphered to advance the story.
The fictional plot begins with the following information:
Over the decades, members of Conspiracy For Good have been reputed to be quietly and effectively doing good in the world’s most troubled areas. But CFG is not without enemies, and it is now under fierce attack by Blackwell Briggs (www.blackwellbriggs.com), a London-based multinational company committed to advanced infrastructure development and security services. For help, CFG turned to Kring, a master storyteller, to share their story, recruit new members to read the signs, and bring down Blackwell Briggs.
UK participants will be able to download a special edition app called Conspiracy for Good: DeadDrop in mid-July that will use Nokia’s Point & Find service and technology to find clues and participate in the events in London. You can also join in the conspiracy from anywhere in the world and it is all free to participate. You don’t necessarily need a Nokia device, but the experience will be much better with one and Nokia will be loaning a limited number of devices out to people who come to each of the Saturday meet up events in London. There are already several videos on the site and various ways to connect and share information with people. There a several different blog entries (looks like they started on 12 May) on how people are doing things to make the world a better place and the movement seems quite popular already.
At the conclusion of the “story” it seems that a donation or assistance of some kind will be passed along to the Zamibian school. I am trying to find out some more details on the direct benefit to an organization, but understand that people talking about ways to effect change for the betterment of the world is a large part of the dialog in the movement.
So here I am all excited and pleased with the T-Mobile Nokia E73 Mode and then I see news from Nokia that they are lowering expectations for second quarter 2010 and full year outlook predictions. As a publicly traded company, it seems that Nokia needs to keep shareholders updated with the situation so there are no real surprises at the end of financial periods. Nokia stated that several factors are negatively impacting their Devices & Services business more than expected. These factors include:
- the competitive environment, especially at the high end
- shift towards lower gross margin products
- depreciation of the Euro affecting cost of goods sold, expenses, and global pricing tactics
Nokia will still have net sales in the range of EUR 7 billion, but they expect their mobile device market share to remain flat in 2010. Actually, remaining flat is pretty impressive given that Palm’s webOS, Apple iOS, and Google’s Android OS are much flashier with many more high end devices available. Given that Nokia is reducing the number of devices it launches, is in a transitional period as it moves to the Symbian^3 (and higher) operating system, and is killing off Maemo and transitioning to Meego it really is no surprise that they would be flat in 2010. The last flagship device they launched, the Nokia N97, was about a year late and had software and hardware issues that kept it from being as good as it should have been. The Nokia N8 will be the next major device, but that will launch a bit later in 2010 and probably have little effect on this year’s financials.
There appear to be a ton of people pre-ordering the new Apple iPhone 4 today as both the Apple and AT&T online stores are having trouble processing orders. I started the process just to see what the monthly AT&T fees would be, but after the store locked up I gave up and still have no intention of buying one for myself. I already have an iPhone 3GS and rarely use it, especially since I have an iPad that I prefer to use with the large display. I am most likely getting a new Nokia E73 Mode and then have my eye on an orange or blue Nokia N8 to use with T-Mobile USA.
Several online mobile writers were given the chance to get some hands-on time with the Nokia N8 over the last couple of days so I wanted to share links to their reports for you to enjoy. I especially enjoyed the long 8 minute video that my pal Rafe recorded over on All About Symbian. Needless to say, I am VERY excited about the N8 and can’t wait for it to hit the streets.
- Rafe’s 8 minutes of Nokia N8
- Mark Guim’s hands-on and first impressions article
- Eric Zeman’s Phone Scoop post
- Sascha Segan’s PC World hands-on
- Harry McCracken’s Technologizer preview
- Noah Kravitz’s PhoneDog video preview
- Tnkgrl’s hands-on with the N8 post
- Mark Spoonauer’s Laptop Magazine first look
Anyone find any other hands-on previews from the last couple of days?
Unfortunately, I do not live in one of the areas where they were demoing the phone so I still have yet to see the N8 in person myself. It seems almost universal that people like the hardware. The Symbian folks also like the improvements in the OS, but acknowledge Symbian^3 doesn’t show major improvements over existing Symbian S60 5th or 3rd Editions. Then again, for those of us who like the existing Symbian interface this may be a good thing. For those comparing it to Android, iPhone, and webOS the interface looks to be a bit disappointing. If Symbian^3 on the N8 is better than what I have on the N97 mini or E73 Mode, then I will be a happy man since I don’t need or want my Nokia device to be an Android or iPhone smartphone.
T-Mobile USA is the first carrier in the US to start to model their available plans after the European market and this makes sense given that they have global owners. With T-Mobile you can choose Even More (fairly standard) or Even More Plus (no annual contract and lower monthly rates) plans. The T-Mobile Nokia E73 Mode will be priced at $69.99 with a compatible Even More plan. Today, we learned that the full, unsubsidized price with the Even More Plus plan will be $299.99 or payable as $15/month over 20 months. I was hoping it would be priced like the Nuron with the same subsidized price, but understand the E73 Mode offers much more value and device than the Nuron so the higher price makes a little sense. However, as a reader points out, over 4x the subsidized price is a bit out of hand. About 3x the price ($199.99) seems to be a much more reasonable cost.
Now before you go away shaking your head at the $300 price of the E73 Mode that is modeled after a one year old device (the E72), let’s take a look at the full unsubsidized price of some other popular smartphones for a fair comparison:
- T-Mobile HTC HD2: $449.99
- T-Mobile BlackBerry Bold 9700: $449.99
- T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide: $429.99
- iPhone 3GS (16GB): $599
- iPhone 3GS (32GB): $699
- Sprint HTC EVO 4G: $449.99
- Verizon Motorola DROID: $559.99
- Verizon BB Storm2: $539.99
- Verizon HTC DROID Incredible: $529.99
As you can see the full, unsubsidized price of $299.99 for the Nokia E73 Mode may actually be a good price when you compare apples to apples. Then again, let’s take a look at some of the unsubsidized and SIM unlocked prices of Nokia smartphones available through Nokia USA that can even be found cheaper on Amazon and Newegg at times. All of the ones listed above are available at those prices with no contract, but the phones are still LOCKED to their respective carriers. When you buy a Nokia smartphone outside of a carrier you can use it on AT&T or T-Mobile or anywhere in the world with a SIM card and supported network.
- Nokia N900: $479
- Nokia X6 16GB: $349
- Nokia N97 mini: $479
- Nokia E73: $379
- Nokia 5800 XM: $259.99
- Nokia E71: $250 (on Amazon)
As I said, when you compare prices the Nokia devices are a great deal. Then again, people in the US rarely pay the full, unsubsidized price and we expect to pay the low subsidized price. In the case of the Nokia E73 Mode that is again only $69.99, which is a major STEAL IMHO.