So Nokia World 2010 is over. I’ve already scored my predictions, but I wanted to also put together some thoughts on the event, including the stuff that was announced, as well as what wasn’t announced. Now, I wasn’t at the event, so I can’t comment on the feel of things or the atmosphere. I’ve been to the past three Nokia Worlds, so I can guess that the atmosphere was incredibly high-energy and positive.
The hardware that Nokia announced this year is quite impressive, within the Nokia Bubble. The E7 is absolutely stunning, and I already want one pretty bad. I really like the design cues of the N8 and E7 and the keyboard on the E7 looks phenomenal. Unfortunately, the E7 is going to bomb in the U.S. market.
The E7 is planned to be available in Q4 2010 which, by Nokia’s lingo, basically means December 31st. It’s priced at 495EUR, which is ~US$645. It has a single-core ARM v11 processor at 648MHz and a paltry 256MB of RAM. Contrast that to the Samsung Epic and the Motorola Droid 2, both of which are available today, and for under US$250 with a contract. The Epic and Droid 2 both have a large capacitive touchscreen display, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and HD video capture. They both have a 1GHz processor and at least 512MB of RAM for a snappy experience. If you’re stuck on GSM, the HTC Droid Z/G2, which was announced recently (and will be available in October, not December), has an 800MHz processor, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, 8 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and HD video capture, and will be priced right around the $200 point with contract.
Basically, the E7, within the Nokia Bubble, is freakin awesome. Unfortunately, once you look around at the current market, you realise it’s already available from other manufacturers, and with a better price and specs. Why wait?
What’s sad about this is that all of the smartphones that Nokia boasted at Nokia World – the N8, E7, C6, and C7 – are all pentaband 3G – this means the same handset is capable of using the 3G networks of T-Mobile US, AT&T, and European carriers. There is no other manufacturer on the planet (that I know of) that is using this same chip. And yet, poor Nokia can’t seem to get the American carriers to pay attention, so the effort is basically wasted. Of course, there’s still a chance that Nokia could convince AT&T or T-Mobile to carry the N8 or the E7. If they can get it on carrier shelves before next summer, it might do well.
Considering that Nokia has been trying to transform itself into a software/services company for a few years, there sure was a lot of hardware announcements, and basically nothing in terms of software/services. Of course, we got the obligatory Ovi Maps upgrade and a new version of the Ovi Store, but that’s about it. As you can see from my predictions scoring post, they announced precious little about their Ovi services – odd since most of those services desperately need an upgrade.
With the renewed focus on photography with the N8, you’d think Ovi Share would get an upgrade, to entice users to upload there, as opposed to Flickr or YouTube. Despite its horrendous UI, Ovi Share is actually far superior, allowing you to put both photos and videos in the same album, and offering you easily-shareable links to your albums, such as http://share.ovi.com/album/rcadden.NokiaWorld2009.
There was also no upgrade for the Ovi PIM functions, including Ovi Contacts, Ovi Calendar, Ovi Mail, and Ovi Chat. These services are still using a separate contact list – they don’t talk to each other at all – and still have trouble with duplicates in your contacts and calendar. It’s sad, really.
So, do I have anything good to say about Nokia World 2010? Absolutely.
Anssi Vanjoki announced his resignation from Nokia just two days before the event kicked off. He’s not leaving for 6 months, though, and the man absolutely nailed his keynote speech. I wasn’t going to wake up for it (the speech started at about 3:15 AM) but my body woke me up anyways. I’m glad I was able to watch it. Anssi’s passion simply oozes from every pore on his body. Watching him present is an awesome experience. I laughed, I might have cried, and I was rendered speechless. Anssi’s passion increases gradually, too – by the time he got around to the E7, he was absolutely firing on all cylinders, and the look on his face reminded me of a proud first-time dad, whose kid has just hit their first home run or something. He was positively beaming, and….well, it was just awesome.
Anssi’s part starts around 9:00, and is well worth watching. He’ll be missed. If you want to watch the full, unedited video, click here.
Unfortunately, the low point of Nokia World 2010 came at the end, with a bit of a pissing match between HTC and Nokia. HTC decided to host an event on September 15th, the second day of Nokia World. This is all fine and well, of course, until HTC made the tasteless choice of sending buses over to Nokia World to pick up journalists and bring them to the HTC event – before Nokia World had officially ended.
This put Nokia in a pretty tough situation – obviously they needed to respond, and I’m not sure there was any way that their response could have been appropriate. It was a lose-lose situation, without question. Thus, Nokia hired some folks to go stand outside the HTC event with red balloons pimping Ovi Maps. They also quickly put together a ‘survival kit’ for people to take with them to the HTC event.
As I said, I think Nokia’s response was pretty lame, but at the same time, HTC was out of line sending buses over. Both companies were acting like children. The whole situation looked very much like two toddlers fighting over a box of crayons. Some have applauded Nokia’s response, seeing it as signs of more aggressive marketing from a historically reserved team. I sincerely hope that, in the future, they look to more….mature ways to get the word out. I hope the same for HTC’s marketing team.
Overall, Nokia World was………well, it was.
If OPK was still leading and Anssi Vanjoki hadn’t resigned, I’d probably be saying that Nokia is completely screwed. The hardware, while impressive, fades into the background of today’s smartphone landscape. Ovi Maps is still nice, but so is Google Maps. Ovi Store v2.0 is still behind the iTunes App Store and the Android Market in many, many ways (including the number of real, quality apps available). The rest of the Ovi services might as well not even exist.
However, OPK’s not leading, and Anssi Vanjoki did resign. The announcements made at Nokia World 2010 were in the plans for long before either of those decisions were made. Starting this week, Stephen Elop, a software guy, takes over the helm of the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, and there’s sure to be some drastic changes (after all, that’s why he was hired).
My friend Phil Schwarzmann (who runs the Nokia Conversations blog) recently asked me what I thought Elop should do first. That’s a tough question, but I think the first thing he needs to do is gather up *everyone* at Nokia who works on Ovi software and services. Get them all in the same room, and get them talking. Spend the next 12 months working feverishly to convert Ovi from a patchwork quilt of store-bought companies into a single fabric. Get the Ovi people to work with the phone firmware teams – bake that crap in so tightly it bleeds Ovi. Don’t worry about hardware – you guys got that. Promote whoever came up with the design cues for the N8 and E7, they’re beautiful.
Here’s to an entirely different Nokia for 2011. The future is bright.