Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nokia Singapore

Nokia's new phone is quite a surprise
'We're still doing WP7 handsets soon
'Photos: Mobile World Congress 2011
THE future of Nokia is... MeeGo?
At least, the next six months is, after the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world surprised just about everyone at the Nokia Connection event in Singapore today by not announcing its first Windows Phone 7 device.
Nokia hopes the new N9 smartphone will be available in Australia before the iPhone 5 arrives, most likely in September.
That's important, because the Finns have put everything they've got into creating a phone that's as un-Nokia as its recent poor forays into smartphones and as Nokia as the original simple design that saw it sitting virtually unassailable on top of the world through the 90s.
They've even asked Apple fans what they think of it.
"One of the workshop groups was heavily skewed with Apple fans," Chris Carr, Nokia's managing director in Australia and New Zealand, told news.com.au.
"The ones who had previous history with a Nokia device saw this as a real opportunity to move back to the brand.
"The Apple-only users — mostly younger users — were struggling to see how this device fitted in."
The rest, Mr Carr said, were overwhelmingly positive about the new design, the new interface and the most importantly, the return of MeeGo, the operating system that worked so well for the N900 nearly three years ago when it was known as Maemo 5.
The N900 was arguably the last credible success for Nokia, a geek's darling for its QWERTY keyboard and smooth touchscreen as well as its ability to consolidate contacts and notifications years before iOS and WP7 got around to it.
N9 will be around the $700 mark for a 16GB version, with up to a 64GB version also available.
It’s 3.9" screen is made from Gorilla Glass (read "tough") and the body is a single piece of polycarbon that’s colour-infused with either black, cyan or magenta. That means it you scratch it, it stays black, cyan or magenta.
It also means better reception, or as Nokia's senior vice president of design Marko Ahtisaari puts it, "unlike some products, you don’t need to hold it a certain way". Bam.
It also supports Nokia’s new free Maps service, which are integrated into the phone, require no downloading and automatically update. They're 3D too...
Near Field Communication technology helps do away with a lot of Bluetooth headaches. Mr Ahtisaari demonstrated a set of Nokia speakers with NFC built in. Simply touch the N9 to the speakers and instantly they pick up and play whatever music you’d been listening to on your phone.
Most importantly for Nokia, the N9's beauty is all in the swiping. One of their grander statements today came from Mr Ahtisaari, who claimed "the swipe is a big human fundamental gesture".
"It’s global — easy to learn and easy to do," he said.
Swipe from anywhere along the edge of the N9's screen and you’ll get taken home. From there, Nokia have identified the three screens most users, well, use.
The first swipe from a home page containing nothing but a clock takes you to Applications. The next brings up events and notifications and the final screen shows all your open applications.
And that’s it. Most importantly, it works — smoothly, even — mainly because it’s not Symbian.
It could have been much worse. The growing horror in the conference room today was palpable as assorted tech media and industry types waiting for the big WP7 announcement were walked through an hour of praise for the new Symbian upgrade.
Surely Nokia weren't sticking with a millstone that had for the large part helped drag their share market down some 40 per cent in their home country, saw them arguing with Apple about who's the new most valuable mobile brand, and shed 8800 jobs recently?
No, they weren’t.
"Symbian Anna" is a key part of Nokia’s push into South-East Asia Pacific, where they hope their budget friendly phones will snap up part of a market that’s expected to grow 40 per cent in the next four years.
Ten new Symbian phones in the next 12 months will help Nokia "connect the next billion".
So far so good. But where’s our Nokia Windows Phone 7? Nokia says the N9 is its new "hero phone", so does this catapult MeeGo phones to the top of the heap?
Not at all, says Mr Carr. The first WP7 phones will be rolled out next year.
"Nokia started with MeeGo three years ago... it wasn’t something we started in the last 12 months," he said.
"We'll still do Windows Phone regardless of (the N9's) success and bring it to Australia in first half of next year."