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Cellphones Businesses Handhelds

What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile 289

snydeq writes "Mikael Ricknäs reports how Nokia can turn around its three-year slide in the mobile market — one that has transformed the company's iconic N95 into a distant memory given the pace of innovation at Apple and around Android. Completely underestimating the impact of the iPhone, Nokia took too long to realize that Symbian's lack of touch capabilities would hinder its ability to compete in the smartphone market. Moreover, the company's move to open source the OS has significantly slowed down Symbian's development, according to analysts, leaving Nokia with both a lack of support from other vendors and a platform on which competitors can keep a close eye. Meanwhile, developer interest in Nokia's Ovi app store is nearly nonexistent. 'Nokia's problems are still fixable but the window is closing. I am not optimistic that they will be fixed in 2010 because there isn't much time left; if they aren't fixed in 2011, Nokia will be in big trouble.'"
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What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile

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  • Release to Carriers (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:41PM (#32856146)
    I've heard that Nokia is big in Europe, but at least here in the USA its hard to get a Symbian phone or any Nokia phone save for dumb-phones. What Nokia really needs to do is create a really high-end phone, make it be multi-carrier and release it for all carriers subsidized in the US. Phones like the N900 are nice, but since you can't get them subsidized, it really harms adoption rates. In the US people expect their cell phones to appear to only cost nothing to $50 for a dumb-phone and $100-200 for a smartphone. Paying $650 for a phone is something that few people will do, if it was $200 subsidized, people would pick it up because at the time, the N900 was a really nice phone, but no one wants to pay $650 for it.

    Nokia needs to get their act together by flooding the market with their phones. Heck, even abandon Symbian for a while and create Android phones, really, despite how much Nokia seems to love Symbian, it kinda fails when compared to Android, iOS and even WebOS.
  • Re:Open phones (Score:2, Informative)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:54PM (#32856270)

    Now they are going for Meego, still having closed components

    The core of MeeGo will be fully functional, with closed platform-specific bits pushed to the fringes. Hardware support is essential, and at this point the necessary bits are available to device owners.

    They should be more open on them, letting developers fully take advantage of that hardware

    They can't. Bits like the 3D driver are held by a 3rd party that is very much not willing to go open with their sources. Sorta like Nvidia. This is, not coincidentally, why MeeGo's support for Intel graphics drivers is so good.

    the cellphone part don't work because being one of the closed components

    Within the next few months Ofono will be able to make calls with the N900, without any closed bits.

  • by SquarePixel ( 1851068 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:01PM (#32856334)

    One only needs to look at price to see why the N900 never caught on. People don't care that its unlocked too much, what they -do- care about is that a price of $650 was something that no one wants to pay for a phone. $100? People would have bought it. $200? People still might have bought it, $650 not subsidized? The average person doesn't want to pay that much for a phone.

    That's only because US has got used to telco's cheating that way. Everywhere else in the world a person buys a phone and then gets (a much cheaper) separate contract for it. It was only a few years ago that the operators started offering the US-style subsidized plans, and they always end up costing a lot more.

  • by migla ( 1099771 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:02PM (#32856338)

    It's not the hardware, it's the GNU/Linux software. And just because it doesn't succeed doesn't mean it isn't the best available from the perspectives of people who'd like a GNU/Linux computer in their pocket.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:07PM (#32856392)

    What makes N900 hardware so special compared to other smartphones out there?

    What makes the hardware so special, is that it runs better software. As good as the iPhone looks on paper, it still, after all these years, doesn't even have the capability to run a "hello world" python script.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:09PM (#32856402)

    Nokia, on the other hand, bought Symbian which at the time was mostly a feature phone OS

    Symbian OS has never been a feature phone OS. It was originally a PDA OS (Under the name Epoc 32), and became a smartphone OS round about 1999 when it was used for the Nokia 9110. None of the phones Nokia has released with SYmbian have been feature phones, they are all smartphones. Nokia's feature phones are Series 30 and Series 40, neither of which are Symbian.

  • by DrunkenPenguin ( 553473 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:21PM (#32856512) Homepage
    You wrote: "It's not the hardware, it's the GNU/Linux software. And just because it doesn't succeed doesn't mean it isn't the best available from the perspectives of people who'd like a GNU/Linux computer in their pocket.". Do you really believe GNU/Linux software will bring Nokia back to top? I don't think so. I've been using Linux since 1998 and I love Linux, but I can't come up with any more than a handful of Linux applications that I'd actually want to run on my cellphone.
  • Ah, Galen Gruman (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:22PM (#32856528)

    We had a ill-informed article by Galen Gruman just yesterday. And here's another.

    Nokia took too long to realize that Symbian's lack of touch capabilities would hinder its ability to compete in the smartphone market.

    Symbian OS has ALWAYS had touch capabilities. It was originally released on a PDA called the Psion Series 5 under the name Epoc 32. That was a device with both a touch screen and a full qwerty keyboard. Touch was absolutely central to it. In all the smartphones Symbian OS has been released for, the OS itself still has touch central to the UI code. In the case of Sony-Ericsson, they released phones that used those touch capabilities. Nokia always chose not to. To release phones without touch screens. It was always Nokia's decision, never anything to do with the OS not being able to do it.

    How can you take a tech author seriously when he makes false accusations based on a complete lack of knowledge of the facts?

  • Re:Ah, Galen Gruman (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:40PM (#32856646)

    Advice from this guy is worth his name in Swedish. "Galen" is "crazy" or "mindless" in Swedish.

    Anyone that thinks that he knows better than a 100 thousand employee company how to run their business is either a true genius or a total idiot. And how many true geniuses there are in the world? So few that they usually have better things to do than continuously keep making empty noise that pleases their narcissistic personality.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @08:25PM (#32856948)
    When I go to the app manager on my N900 there are hundreds of applications there that I can just download without paying anyone anything. Add more than the nokia repositry and there are thousands more. That is what the Linux software (I doubt if there is much actual gnu stuff) brings to the platform.
    Think of just about anything, and there is a free app which is a very small download for that. I don't know if that will sell any more N900 phones but it certainly impresses those that have them.
    The multitasking alone leaves the iPhone for dead (ask an iPhone user about alarm apps and how they don't work), as does the ability to switch between virtual screens.
    The device itself is an expensive bit of hardware with a lot of memory, high pixel density touchscreen etc, but that sort of environment (Maemo or Meego) has a lot of potential on future devices with lower end specs.
  • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @09:05PM (#32857182)

    in the rest of the world buying your phone subsidized actually end up costing you slightly more. on the other hand, carrier subscriptions are extremely cheap "phoneless".

    For example I pay 1EUR/month (thats 12EUR/year) for unlimited 3.5G, unlimited calling on the same carrier and land lines (theres a fee to other mobile carriers, and international of course).

    The same one with a 2-300EUR iphone4 cost smth like 30 to 45eur per month during 12 to 24 month which is more expensive, locked during 6month (after 6month u can unlock and you want to change carrier you've to pay the rest of the phone;. slightly more in fact, once again).

    In this case buying unsubsidized is actually better.

  • by cynyr ( 703126 ) on Friday July 09, 2010 @09:28PM (#32857302)
    and my free nokia phone[1] is rather smart already. It has 2g internet access, a music player, a video player, a clock, a stop watch, a note taking app, a calendar, uses uSD cards, has bluetooth 2.X, it's smaller and lighter than a iphone as well. It does pretty much everything i want, except control MPD on my server so i can change the music in the house from it. Would i like a iphone 4, sure something like it anyways, or even it, running andriod. I must admit the iphone 4 looks decent from a hardware perspective.

  • What is this "exact same Android phone" you speak of? I spent the last few weeks investigating upgrades to our phones in this household, and the one thing I can safely say is that the Android phones were a pretty diverse lot, size, camera, keyboard or lack of it, processing power, screen quality, camera quality, camera capabilities, styles, and, oh, prices too. The MyTouch Slide we eventually went for even has significant changes to the look and feel of the operating system, not just in terms of (somewhat unnecessary) T-Mobile crap, but also in terms of a revamped voice control interface (which is crap, but that's another story.)

    If Nokia wants to make an Android phone and wants to distinguish it from other Android phones, they'd certainly not have a problem in doing so. There's also no reason whatsoever for them to build an iOS phone: all they'd be doing is creating a closed, proprietary, system when they could produce something just as capable and user friendly with an open architecture. Why waste money licensing iOS because of minor UI differences, when it's perfectly within your abilities to make changes to, say, Android or Maemo, that'll change the UI to whatever you want it to be?

    I don't necessarily propose Nokia do Android, not because it's a bad choice, but because choice is good, and it'd be nice to see a mobile operator that once-upon-a-time was renowned for its style, come up with an alternative to webOS and Android, but suggesting iOS? Really? We don't need more iPhones. Nokia's problem is that both of its operating systems, Symbian and Maemo, have the same issues as iOS, not that they're not like iOS enough.

  • Re:Favorably? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SpazmodeusG ( 1334705 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @02:01AM (#32858314)

    "things like double tap to fully justify a column of text in a webpage"
    That's a very specific thing to be complaining about. I'm not even sure what you are getting at. Double tapping on the n900s browser zooms out the page (to the equivalent of being a 1280 width screen i believe). Double tapping again zooms in on that region. It's very intuitive and quick.
    It's not what you're describing but it seems to achieve the same goal; Web pages are easily viewable on the n900. You can also install n900 versions of Firefox, Chromium or Opera if you don't like the default browser on the n900. So i don't see what you are getting at here.

    As for the app store it's really just a repository, don't use the OVI store browser as that's redundant, use the App manager to browse for apps. You click app manager on the phone and you get a list of programs available from the repositories (including the commercial OVI store repository). Mame, SNES and Megadrive emulators, OpenSSH, ftpd, all the tux games, programs to turn you phone into a wireless access point, VOIP apps, all the major linux apps etc. are all downloadable from these official repositories. The n900's a full Linux system and the huge number of apps for the n900 reflects this.
    I don't understand how you think there aren't many apps available. All i can think is that the official developer and extras repositories weren't added to the app manager and you browsed nothing more than the OVI store. Nokia open their phones so that there isn't one source of apps for the device, make sure you add the other well known sources. Note that's also why you never here about how Nokia killed app X for their phone. They aren't Apple. They couldn't stop a competing source of apps for their phones even if they wanted to and the OVI store is a small part of the ecosystem.

    Here's some extra sources for n900 apps. Click these on your phone to add them to the App manager. The first link, the extras, is especially important as it's official and has a huge list of great apps with seemingly all the major linux apps represented. The rest i've linked here are a bit more specific and some are for beta version applications. But even if you just add the extras repository you should be giving the Android a run for it's money in the amount and quality of the applications available. [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []

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