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Here is why I am a Nokia fanboy and will always be one

Here is why I am a Nokia fanboy and will always be one

As you know I wrote up my Nokia World 2010 closing thoughts on Nokia Experts and also posted thoughts on the lack of any effect of NW 2010 on the US market and have to admit I was a bit cynical in those posts. I am an admittedly a Nokia fanboy, why else would I run this site?, and was caught up in the joy of awesome hardware last week at Nokia World while hearing little talk about the US market. I had some time to stew over this a bit and wrote these posts last night while fighting off a nasty cold that is overtaking me after returning from my trip to England. On the advice of a friend, Ricky Cadden, I went back through some of my posts here on Nokia Experts and realized I will always be a Nokia fanboy and I cannot be too harsh on Nokia when it comes to the US because honestly it is quite a bit different than other markets and I will give them more time to figure it out.

CDMA and multiple WCDMA frequencies

At first I was going to let Nokia off the hook by agreeing that the CDMA vs GSM and multiple frequencies used by US carriers is a good excuse to skip the US market. Then I realized that HTC, Samsung, RIM, and others have been able to make devices for all of these carriers so there really is no excuse for Nokia not to spend some money and work hard with US wireless carriers to get their devices out into Americans hands. Surprisingly Nokia is doing well supporting the add AWS (1700 MHz) frequency of T-Mobile USA, but T-Mobile is also one of the best carriers for Nokia with limited crapware installation and excellent data and voice pricing plans.

You might be thinking that Nokia will have a better chance when LTE is rolled out, but I believe we will see the same multiple frequency issue even if every carrier will then have SIM cards. To have an impact in America, Nokia will have to work with the carriers to offer subsidized devices or they will always be a niche player with devices only bought by those of us astute enough to understand the power of a Nokia smartphone.

Nokia works with media and bloggers

I have some good carrier relationships with Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile along with relationships with HTC so I have the chance to try out quite a few devices for ZDNet reviews. That said, I have never had any better relationship than with Nokia who sometimes lets writers use their devices for long term loans so that more complete coverage can be provided. In the days when the Nokia Nseries Blogger Relations program was up and running there was no one that could stand up to the way Nokia allowed us to check out early devices and provide honest feedback, both positive and negative.

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Nokia World 2010: Final closing thoughts

Nokia World 2010: Final closing thoughts

As you know, I attended the two day Nokia World event last week and posted a few articles centered on the hardware that we saw in the Experience Lounge areas. I attended the keynotes, met with a few executives and recorded a podcast with the Nokia Conversations team. I then spent the rest of the week touring London and the SouthEast English countryside with my friend Rafe Blandford from All About Symbian. This was my first Nokia World event and I am not quite sure I will attend again as it takes several days to travel and cover the event while consuming my limited vacation time from my “normal day job” while having a negligible affect on my ZDNet or Nokia Experts page views. I would have thought that more US consumers would have wanted in read more about Nokia, but it seems that US consumers have given up on Nokia while Nokia hasn’t shown much affection for the US market.

UPDATE: Please see my new post for a further explanation of my love of Nokia.

Keynotes

I live blogged the opening keynote and it started out with a bang when Niklas Savander showed how Nokia connects people of the world and played a clip from Apple while stating Nokia’s work is more than a feel good tagline. He quoted impressive global stats and also stated, “They work day in and day out, no matter how you hold them.” The Nokia is back statement was also made and his talk fired people up and showed that Nokia is not going to be a pushover in the smartphone market.

Anssi Vanjoki then appeared on stage and jumped right in asking how people can judge the N8 based on some screenshots and the dashboard without even using the device. He revealed some impressive devices and then talked about Nokia’s focus on sustainability and their care of our world.

Purnima Kockikar appeared on stage to talk about Symbian development, which is understandable given that this was a combined event with developers and without them the devices would not be as compelling. The Rovio CEO was a part of this development story and I wish they would have had the developer of Gravity speak since that is THE application that makes Nokia smartphone bearable to use.

The keynote should have ended here as it was already getting a bit long winded, but then we heard from a Vodafone executive who went on for over 20 minutes on stuff that people at Nokia World probably didn’t care much about.

Overall, I was pleased with the opening keynote addresses as the first two showed that Nokia has some fire in their belly and is not going to stand still and lose their worldwide leading market share.

There were also good keynote addresses on the 2nd day from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Mary McDowell.

Symbian^3 devices

Nokia showed off four upcoming Symbian^3 devices at Nokia World and I was impressed by each of them. The updated Symbian UI is pretty slick, while still having many of the same elements from S60. This is a good thing, IMHO, for those Symbian users who don’t want to see a radical change from what they used for years while still offering some of the eye candy and slick functionality seen in the latest and greatest smartphone platforms.

Here are my posts with videos and photos of the devices:

The ClearBlack Display technology looks awesome on the E7 and C6 and it is unfortunate the N8 wasn’t able to get that technology prior to launch. There were N8 devices in just about every employees’ hands and Nokia gave out something like 1000 to developers. None of the media had a chance to get an evaluation device to use, which seems like a bit of a lost opportunity to me. It would have been great for Nokia to let people use the N8 for a couple of days to take and upload photos and video as part of their Nokia World coverage, but I also understand they didn’t want people slamming the software for being buggy since it doesn’t appear it has been finalized yet. This too is interesting as the device was supposed to ship in Q3 and Q3 ends in nine days so it looks like Nokia will not be meeting the timeline they stated back in April for the N8. They need to get the N8 release right though since they haven’t had a great high end smartphone release since the N95.

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Nokia World 2010: Nokia gives developers Nokia N8 devices

Nokia World 2010: Nokia gives developers Nokia N8 devicesNokia made a good move here at the combined Nokia World/Nokia Developer Summit event and, according to All About Symbian, gave each developer a Nokia N8 to use to develop and test their apps. I wish I was a developer 😉 This is similar to what they did with the N900 last year and is a smart move to make sure apps get onto the device and Symbian^3 platform as quickly as possible. I wondered why I saw N8 boxes all over the place here at Nokia World and it makes sense. I love that people develop for Symbian since I am a heavy application user and want the best apps on my phones too.

Nokia World 2010: More E7 eye candy and specifications

I had the chance to take a few more photos of the Nokia E7 and now I may just have to buy it and the N8. The ClearBlack display technology is amazing on the E7 and as Engadget showed in a comparison with the Apple iPhone 4 retina display the CBD from Nokia is even slightly better in sunlight. Here are some more photos for you to enjoy, doesn’t orange look good on the E7 too?

I didn’t post these earlier so here are the key specifications of the Nokia E7:

  • Symbian^3 operating system
  • Penta-band WCDMA and Quad-band GSM
  • 4 inch 640×360 AMOLED capacitive display with ClearBlack technology (CBD)
  • 8 megapixel camera with HD video capture support
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • FM radio
  • A-GPS receiver
  • HDMI port
  • USB On-The-Go support
  • 16 GB internal user memory, no microSD card slot
  • 1200 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.87 x 2.46 x 0.54 inches and 6.21 ounces

Even though it is a large device, the build quality is fantastic and feels great in your hands. The main differences I am looking at and considering between this and the N8 are that the N8 has a better camera, FM transmitter (killer for podcasts in the car), and expandable memory capacity. The E7 has a larger and more beautiful display and that great QWERTY keyboard.

Nokia World 2010: Hands-on with the Nokia C6 and C7

In addition to the high end N8 and E7 devices, Nokia announced a couple of mid-range Symbian^3 devices that I think may appeal to even more new smartphone users. The Nokia C7 and C6-01 are compact, full touchscreen devices that will be available later this year around the world.

Nokia C7

The Nokia C7 is another in the new Symbian^3 lineup that comes in a full touchscreen form factor. When I saw the C7 and C6-01 up on the wall with their home screens up I could have sworn they were Android devices by the look of the hardware and home screen. However, I think for the equivalent price consumers may find they get a better experience with these Symbian^3 devices rather than with a comparable Android device.

Key specifications of the Nokia C7 include the following:

  • Symbian^3 operating system
  • Penta-band WCDMA and Quad-band GSM
  • 3.5 inch 640×360 AMOLED capacitive display
  • 8 megapixel camera with HD video capture support
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • FM radio
  • FM transmitter
  • A-GPS receiver
  • 8 GB internal user memory
  • microSD card slot
  • 1200 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.62 x 2.24 x 0.41 inches and 4.58 ounces

The C7 is a fairly powerful mid-range device and the thinness of the device was very appealing to me. The estimated retail price is EUR 335.

Nokia C6-01

I am not really a big fan of Nokia’s naming scheme, but understand with the large number of devices they have it is almost a necessity to use this method. However, why in the world did they roll out a completely different device just a few weeks after another with the exact same name escapes me.

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Nokia World 2010: HTC crashes the party, Nokia responds

Day two of Nokia World is taking place today and I am meeting with several executives to discuss products, services, and Nokia in general. HTC invited the media to come on over to its launch event and even sent over transportation from Nokia World. I was considering this myself, but thought it was a bit rude to leave Nokia World when they planned this event a year ago and made efforts to get time for me to meet with executives and get more hands-on time with devices. As you can see on Engadget, Nokia heard about this and actually put together and handed out HTC press event survival kits. This was hilarious and shows me that Nokia is developing a bit more outward swagger and not sitting by to let people stomp on them.

I don’t quite understand why HTC schedule this event for today when they easily could have done it tomorrow when the media was still in town and not conflicted with Nokia World. I have friends at HTC and enjoy using their products, but am not too pleased with this scheduling and transportation move.

Nokia World 2010: Here comes the C3 Touch and Type for the masses

Nokia World 2010: Here comes the C3 Touch and Type for the massesFollowing up the Nokia X3 Touch and Type Nokia today announced the C3 Touch and Type which has the same touch screen and phone keypad elements of the X3. The C3 Touch and Type is also a S40 phone with a bit more polish to it, including a full stainless steel body, 3G, WiFi, 5 megapixel camera with flash, FM radio, and microSD card. The X3 had a price of EUR 125 while the C3 is priced at EUR 145, excluding taxes and subsidies. Both of these devices will most likely be free on contract in many countries too.

These Touch and Type devices are not designed for the smartphone enthusiast reading this website, but is designed to help those in developing countries and those who don’t want to give up their phone keypad still gain most of the features of a smartphone. The Ovi Store just recently came to S40 as well so that the world of 3rd party applications is opening up to S40 owners.

Nokia World 2010: Will the US media ever understand Nokia?

Nokia World 2010: Will the US media ever understand Nokia?I have lots of respect for Peter Rojas and everything he has done over the years with Gizmodo, Engadget, and GDGT, but I have to say I disagree with many of his points made in his latest editorial titled Nokia’s Fear of Failure and one of the most glaring problems I have with his article is this statement: “Just wait until you see how bad the new N8 is compared with the iPhone 4 or any of the top-tier Android phones.” Really Peter, have you tried the latest software and hardware of the Nokia N8? It is actually quite good and I am more pleased with it than I ever expected I would be. As a person who has used all of the latest smartphone platforms I would have to say the N8 can easily hold its own against the top smartphones today. Some aspects are the almost the same as Symbian S60 5th Edition, but Symbian users like this familiarity for the most part and keeping some of this will let them use their new device without having to relearn the interface.  There are also several new elements to give the customers a feeling that they have a competitive device. The home screens look a lot like Android and the extremely fast, faster than iOS, cover flow media player UI is fantastic. The Nokia N8 will sell millions in countries outside the US and unfortunately I think only a few of us who buy them SIM unlocked here will get the chance to experience a very good Nokia product.

I agree that there are problems at Nokia, as we have seen with their steadily declining market share and falling profits. They haven’t had a good high end smartphone for a couple of years now after releasing the “flagship” N97 with old internal hardware and an operating system not optimized for touch. Nokia fired their CEO and another VP has resigned as they start to show outwardly that they are serious about change. These leadership changes will take some time to have an effect, but I think their decision to move to an OS powered by Symbian (the new Symbian from the Symbian Foundation that is) was the right move last year and it shows in the four new products they announced and are showing off here at Nokia World. The experiences I saw across all four devices were fairly consistent so even a low to mid-range device owner will see fresh UI aspects.

Apple has a single device, I guess up to three, if you count previous generations of the iPhone that can still be found compared to something on the order of 10-20 current Nokia S60 and S40 phones (dependent on region) so the amount of money Nokia spends on R&D is definitely going to run at a MUCH higher rate. Nokia spends money reaching the entire spectrum of mobile phone user while Apple focuses on just the high end buyer who has money to spend. Nokia also spends money on various technologies, sustainability issues, services, and much more to do their part to help the planet. If they spent money on a single device and platform, I would have to say it would be scary how fantastic that product would most likely be.

I understand that large companies like Nokia, and Microsoft too, have trouble bringing all the players together to launch successful products, but I do not agree that Nokia lost their way regarding innovation. I think the innovation judgement is highly dependent on your perspective as a consumer and your definition of innovation. The N8 itself has some pretty innovative functions and capabilities, such as USB-to-Go, 12 megapixel camera with the largest optical sensor ever seen on a camera phone, pentaband WCDMA so we don’t have to worry whether or not it supports T-Mobile or AT&T 3G in the USA, Bluetooth 3.0 implementation, and more. How about the Nokia X3 Touch and Type? This phone may not appeal to the smartphone enthusiast, but what other phone have you seen that is dirt cheap and give you a full phone keypad (millions of people still prefer these) with a decent touch screen display and powerful applications? Nokia still does innovate and I don’t think the US media gives them enough credit for the things they do.

Much of the innovation in Nokia products is related to services too, especially when you look at services impacting developing countries (such as Ovi Life Tools and Nokia Money where Nokia’s innovation has led to families having gained valuable tools to live a better life.

I don’t think Nokia is as broken as the US media seems to think it is and having spent some time today with several new Symbian^3 devices I think Nokia is on the right track with such a consistent mid to high level operating system that should encourage developers to bring products to their platform that will at least sustain the millions of consumers they currently have with products coming in the future running MeeGo and Symbian^4 bringing more from other platforms.

Am I off my rocker and am I looking at Nokia through rose colored glasses? This is Nokia Experts so I am obviously a fan of Nokia products and services, but if you follow my writing you also know I don’t hold back punches when I see mistakes and missteps by Nokia.

Nokia brings ex-Palm Design VP to the MeeGo team

Nokia brings ex-Palm Design VP to the MeeGo teamWe haven’t seen much about MeeGo here at Nokia World, but some encouraging news comes from Engadget that Mr. Peter Skillman, former Palm Design VP, has been hired on as part of the MeeGo team. Palm’s webOS is a very good mobile operating system so it is encouraging to see Nokia bring someone with Peter’s skills to the team. Sorry about that Dieter, I honestly still do with webOS the best of luck.

I understand that the focus at Nokia World is on the mass market and Symbian, but as a Nokia fan I sure would like to have heard more about MeeGo. I am thinking we may not see a device launch in 2010, but after seeing how good the new N8, E7, C6, and C7 are with Symbian^3 I think that Nokia will do just fine this holiday season.

Nokia World 2010: Ovi Maps 3.06 adds new features and social connectivity

The premier Ovi service is clearly Ovi Maps and today during the keynote we heard that a new version was available that added features such as public transport maps (such as for the London Underground), an improved search experience, the ability to share a place, the ability to check-in via Facebook and other social networs, and new drive assistance mode with live traffic flow. Version 3.06 is available now to try out so get it installed on your device and give it a go.

Supported devices for this latest version include the following: Nokia 5230, Nokia 5230 Nuron, Nokia 5235 Comes With Music Edition, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Nokia C6-00, Nokia N8, Nokia N97, Nokia N97 mini, Nokia X6, Nokia X6-00. I currently only have a Nokia N97 mini to try it out on and cannot wait for my own N8 to arrive to use with the application and service.

Nokia World 2010: Ovi Maps 3.06 adds new features and social connectivity

Unfortunately, S60 FP1 or FP2 devices are not supported with this current beta release.


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