In this editorial cross posted from Mobitopia
Rafe comments (waffles in AAS speak) on the new Nokia 6630, its design (ugly or beautiful?) and the implications for 3G and smartphones.
Mobitopians don't always agree! Gustaf says the Nokia 6630 is ugly
but I think it is beautiful. The looks, which may not be aesthetically pleasing to some, are really on one part of its 'beauty'. The pear shape might look ugly to some, but this makes the phone much easier to operate one handed which is the usual bug bear of smartphones. It's obvious that this is very much a 3rd generation smartphone design. It might be the 'illegitimate love child between a 6660 and a 3650
' but there's a very good reason for that. It combines some of the nicest features of each. The pear shape is great for design usability
and the keypad design is normal with added features like roughened plastic on the side for gripping showing that someone thought carefully about this smartphone. Gone are the wacky keypads of the SX1, 3650, and 7610.
But all of that does not really matter. The beauty is in what this phone represents in its technical specifications
. The smallest 3G smartphone in the world seems to be the tag line. But what is perhaps more important is that 3G smartphones have the potential to fulfill the true promise of both 3G technology and smartphones. 3G is not about video telephony, its a gimmick, and thats reflected in the way its only going to be usbale on the 6630 via an add-on
3G is about ubiquitous fast data anywhere. Very few phones actually take advantage of that at the moment. The majority of networks seem to have recognised this with many of them launching not with phones but with datacards for laptops. But a bluetooth enabled smartphone can replace any PC card using a wireless connection and it can do so much more too. Non-smartphones can do that too, but so far the only solutions have been clunky. Compare that to the number of people using a 6600 with GPRS as their international mobile roaming access solution. How many of those people would be interested in getting a faster connection where available, that drops down to GPRS where 3G coverage have not yet reached? WiFi may be a fly in the ointment here, but it's unlikely to be able to compete in coverage terms.
And what is we look the other way? What can 3G do for smartphones? The smartphone is also about data communications. From accessing e-mail, to mibile information browsing, to specialist mobile applications that update themselves and their content over the air. The promise of smartphones is information anywhere. That has always been some what hampered by the speeds of GPRS and even EDGE isn't really good enough. Then there are the uses that just haven't really worked yet. 3G will bring quality streaming video and streaming audio in a big way. Smartphones will be devices of multimeida consumption. The promise of 3G smartphones will be information and entertainment anywhere in a timely manner. It is easy to say that something will change the current paradigm. We have heard it often enough about smartphones and 3G. But maybe, just maybe, this time it is the reality. The phone is a personal device, it is with you all the time. 3G delivers data at the necessary speed. Smartphones deliver a platform to build the services. In combination they have great potential. The 6630 is beautiful because it is the representative of this potential.
There are, of course, some smartphones on 3G networks at the moment (Motorola A920 for example), but none of them are main stream smartphones, none of them are this small, and perhaps most importantly of all none of them are Nokia's. All the figures show that Nokia is dominating the smartphone market with marketshare globally of around 40%, and 80% in smartphone loving Europe. Nokia are in that position because they are producing smartphones in volumes and producing good designs. With the 6630 they are really stamping their authority on this high end market which all the analysts agree will be one of the fastest growing phone segments. The 6630, ugly ducking, illegitimate love child? Perhaps. But I think it might just be a swan is disguise.