(This is all idle speculation, just some random thoughts I had last night while tromping through the snow with my dog.)
I think Nokia has actually messed up with the 5800.
When I first heard about the 5800 I was a little surprised they weren't rolling out an N Series device as the first phone to use the touch screen.
Then came the pricing announcement from Nokia.
Not only was the 5800 going to have touch and a decent hardware spec, it was going to be affordable.
That's not what we normally expect from Nokia. Previous new technology (wifi, GPS) has been rolled out in N series devices first and with a serious price premium and only filtered down to the ordinary people's phones later
But I have a theory that might explains this new direction- The Nokia 5800 wasn't meant to be very good.
However much S60 Touch may be an evolution of the traditional OS it's still very new and Nokia realised it's going to take alot of work to get it sorted and I suspect they thought they were pretty unlikely to get it right with their first handset.
If the first touch device they released was a buggy N series handset with a high price and high expectation they would be rightly slammed for any problems that were encountered.
But if they released it as a non-N series, budget-priced smartphone, the reviews could point out that the OS isn't actually production ready but the novelty and low price would ensure enough were sold to make it worthwhile and much more importantly Nokia is getting lots of great feedback on how people want to use touch devices.
Feedback that could be ploughed into the second generations of phones like the N97 which (I suspect) is the phone Nokia expected to really sell the touch interface.
The mistake I think Nokia made is that the 5800 worked. Worked REALLY well. It isn't the almost unusable mess that many people (including me to some degree) were expecting. And as a result of this (and the agressive pricing) it's sold extremely well.
Which leaves Nokia in a dilema. The 5800 is eating the N97s (and N95/96's as well) market and in the middle of a recession how on Earth do you sell an N series phone that's probably going to cost twice as much as the cheep and cheerful 5800.
If the 5800 was no better than a beta test platform, good for generating a buzz about the Touch interface "Once nokia get it working properly it'll be great" and getting feedback then the N97 could concentrate on taking the fight to the iPhone, palm Pre and Windows Mobile devices.
How much are people really willing to pay extra for a slide out QWERTY keyboard and myfacespacebook widgets on the standby screen ?
Not that much I suspect so unless Nokia can match the 5800s budget pricing with the N97 then I fear the upcoming N series device may have already lost to it's little brother.
It'll be interesting to see what Nokia do.
Can they afford to abandon the 5800 (as they have so many other phones) in the hope that not releasing more firmware will drive people to the N97 ?
Will they pitch the N97 as a budget N series device maybe £50-100 above the 5800 price and if they do what effect would that have on other N series devices and the N-series brand itself ?
Or will Nokia not look a gift horse in the mouth and put real marketing and R&D effort behind the 5800 and push it as their "iphone killer" in the mass market, perhaps really supporting the CWM idea in the process (I suspect this could be an absolutely killer CWM phone)