Sunday, September 19, 2010

I like N8!

Nokia is going through interesting times. Stephen Elop will begin his job next tuesday and in a month new N8 will become publicly available. I've had a pleasure to use N8 for some time in everyday use and that device must be put to the same category as 2110, 9110 and 7650. N8 is a great and exiting device. Really, that wasn't a joke! Let me tell you why.

N8 is not a piece of plastic. As soon as you hold the device in your hand, its aluminium body feels solid and robust.

N8 has capacitive touch screen, say goodbe to stylus.

N8 has amazingly good camera with a xenon flash. Takes as good pictures as my digital camera and I can read my email, call wife and check Facebook with N8 - something my camera cannot do.

I didn't think HDMI connection has any value before I connected N8 to my TV and watched the pictures together with my family. HDMI and great camera is a good combination.

N8 is fast, something I haven't been able to say about other Nokia phones lately. You touch the screen and there is an immediate response. Screen orientation changes without shaking the phone. Virtual keyboard is fast and easy to use. Music player with album art performs just as it shoud do. And so on...

N8 looks good. To whoever I have shown N8, comments have been somewhere between "Wow!" and "Oooh!". What's most interesting is that young people, those digital natives, have been very excited about the device and its looks.

N8 is stable. It hasn't crashed.

N8 has new homescreen that has three configurable views. If you don't like old S60 application menu, you won't need to use it as everyday tasks can be launched directly from homescreen. If you can't live without old S60 menu, it is still there.

By the way, I have been using N8 with pre-commercial softare, that has probably tons of testing and debugging features still built in. When commercial software is released, I expect N8 to become even better.

Nokia is back in the high-end smartphone competition.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

All these different devices are the same

While smartphone competition is heating up, many analysts have asked when Nokia will start using Android in its devices, instead of Symbian. Most of the answers to this question have been the same, how Nokia would then differentiate itself from all the other manufacturers who use Android? In general, how could a manufacturer differentiate from all the other competitors using the same platform? Here are two ways to do it, both of them I would highly appreciate as a customer.

Superior hardware quality
Thinking about Nokia, their hardware quality is still unbeatable. Take an E-series device and hold it in your hand, it feels rock solid and durable. Then repeat the test with - let's say - HTC Hero and you feel the difference. You might not want to do this, but drop both devices to concrete floor - which one is still working?

OK, I have had HTC Hero and touchscreen has now broken three times in a year and device is again getting repaired. That's why HTC Hero is used as an example here. And yes, I haven't dropped it to the floor.

How do you differentiate from competitors if all are using the same platform?

Make sure your device has better and more durable hardware!

Give an unbeatable support statement
No matter which platform the device is running, there will be new platform versions and sooner or later the device becomes outdated. New applications will benefit from new platform services and you are missing all those. When will your device get an update - or will it ever? Has the manufacturer forgotten its old customers? Here is again a good way for manufacturers to differentiate: make a bold promise to customers that they will not be forgotten and they receive new platform versions in a timely and expectable way. What this would mean? Here is a sentence that you are free to use: "If you buy this device, we will provide you new platform software within three months after the release or give you an immediate information if such an upgdare cannot be made because of a major hardware incompatibility."

How do you differentiate from competitors if all are using the same platform?

Make a statement that your device will be kept up-to-date, also in the future!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Smartphone is like a car

When you buy a car, you are not only bying the actual vehicle, but also taking for granted you are able and allowed to access the whole travelling ecosystem with roads, gas stations, repair shops and so on. The car is your key to these services and if car for any reason is not able to access the ecosystem, it is not fulfilling it's purpose. Imagine a beutiful car that is not able to use normal road network; some enthusiasts won't care but for rest of us it doesn't sound like a good deal. At least it doesn't solve the problem of transportation.

When you buy a smartphone, you are not only buying the actual device, but also taking for granted you have access to networks, application stores, interesting media content, easy payment services and so on. Smartphone is the key to these services and smartphone without these services is like a car without the road. Some enthusiasts would love a great smartphone even if it is unable to communicate with the ecosystem, but that doesn't make a business case.

The magic equation is in this sense is:
hardware quality * software quality * services * price = terminal success

Nokia's recent problems have been in software and services, Apple's problem is the price and my recent Android experiences show that their problem is in hardware quality.