DigiPassion reports the welcome news that Microsoft has updated the old Nokia Software Recovery Tool (NSRT) , thought abandoned, along with all some of the old Nokia Series 60/Symbian firmware images - and it all now works again, with images now firmly on Microsoft's servers! Guess Microsoft is not quite the 'evil empire' after all? Good news anyway, and this will breathe new life into quite a few older Symbian-based phones.
Recent News - General
If you've seen the odd error message recently on a Symbian smartphone, at least when using it on Wi-fi, it's because Nokia's longstanding connectivity-test.ext.nokia.com server is now offline, the latest in a long line of Symbian support resources to disappear under Microsoft's ownership of Nokia's Devices division. The good news is that Wifi connectivity does work on the whole still, albeit without automatic connection. [Update] The URL has now been restored - presumably with Nokia's cooperation, so you can relax again!
Unsurprisingly, the end of Symbian as a viable smartphone platform just got even closer, with Microsoft (Symbian's new owners after the Nokia Devices buy-out) shutting down all the servers handling Over The Air and Nokia Suite firmware updates. In theory this will happen at the end of this year, but some readers are reporting that it's all shut down already. Not that any of this will stop real Symbian hard core users, mind you, since the Delight custom firmware images are still available, as are SIS installation files for many third party applications. But, bit by bit, it's getting harder and harder to stay on Symbian without an excessive amount of work.
We knew this was coming, of course. The Nokia Store (for Symbian, etc.) closed for new business/apps well over a year ago and we knew that a deal had been struck with Opera for the latter to keep it going in some form. The recent Store update contained the necessary redirect code and now the button has been pushed by Microsoft to redirect any use of the on-device Nokia Store application to the Opera web site/store.
Microsoft today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services division, following approval by shareholders and governmental regulators and almost eight months on from the initial announcement. Microsoft is now a major mobile hardware manufacturer and will now begin the complex process of integration. Nokia continues to exist, primarily as a network infrastructure (NSN) business, coupled with the strategically important maps (HERE) and research and intellectual property (Advanced Technologies) businesses.
Today, at MWC, Nokia announced the Nokia X range of affordable smartphones, running on a customised version of AOSP (Android Open Source Project) software. The devices, the Nokia X, X+, and XL, are aimed primarily at "growth economies" and are compatible with generic Android apps, but also run a range of Nokia and Microsoft apps and services.
Nokia has released its Q3 2013 results, reporting an operating profit of €118 million (up from a loss of €564 million in Q3 2012), with net sales of €5.6662 billion (down 22% year-on-year). Nokia's Devices and Services division's operating loss was €86 million. The margin in Devices and Services was -3% (up from from -18.9% in Q3 2012). Total smartphone device sales were 8.8 million (all Lumia), up from 7.4 million in Q2, while mobile phone volumes were 55.8 million, up from 53.7 million in Q2, but down 27% year-on-year.
Do you remember I wrote recently about issues with the Xenon flash on the Lumia 1020, caused by the shutter speed being artificially slow? After doing some tests, I've noticed that the new Nokia Camera (rolling in Nokia Pro Camera and Nokia Smart Cam) is more intelligent with shutter speed when taking typical indoor/party/event shots, with photos appearing crisper and with more natural colours. In tests, clarity and colours now match or exceed those from Xenon-lit shots on the Nokia 808, previously the gold standard here.
On October 22nd, in Abu Dhabi, Nokia is holding Nokia World, where it is expected to announce a number of new devices and accessories in a variety of form factors. The event kicks off at 08:00 BST (07:00 GMT). We'll be updating this story with our on-the-scene live coverage at the event takes place. You can also watch a live stream of the press conference event via Nokia Conversations.
We knew this day would come, but didn't think it would happen so soon. After January 1st, 2014, Nokia is no longer accepting either new applications or updates for existing apps into the Nokia Store. The email, sent out to all developers today, is quoted below, but my first impression is that the refusal to allow app updates is something of a contravention of Nokia's stated intent to "support Symbian until 2016". After all, without the facility to update apps to maintain compatibility with the wider world and to respond to security issues and bugs, the Symbian ecosystem is rather left in the lurch.
Nokia yesterday published additional material about its proposed transaction with Microsoft that will see the sale of its Devices & Services business and a major patent licensing agreement. The information is intended to give shareholders more information ahead of the proposed 19th November EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) at which shareholders will be asked to follow the board's recommendation and vote to approve the proposed transaction with Microsoft.
Microsoft and Nokia today announced that they had signed an agreement whereby Nokia will sell its Devices & Services business and license its patents to Microsoft for €5.4 billion. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2014, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
The move will be seen as a key part of Microsoft's future devices and service strategy and was, perhaps, inevitable given its reliance on Nokia for Windows Phone devices, especially after rumours about such a transaction were floated earlier this summer. It will shake up both the Windows Phone ecosystem and the mobile industry more generally, drawing clear lines between major technology players, but also leaving questions about the business sustainability of smaller players.
The transaction will close the mobile phone chapter in Nokia's 150 year old history and reshapes a company that remains one of Europe's leading technology brands.
Nokia has released its Q2 2013 results, reporting an operating loss of €115 million (up from a loss of €824 million in Q2 2012), with net sales of €5.695 billion (down 24% year-on-year). Nokia's Devices and Services division's operating loss was €33 million. The margin in Devices and Services was -1.2% (up from from -11.8% in Q2 2012). Total smartphone device sales were 7.4 million (all Lumia), up from 6.1 million in Q1, while mobile phone volumes were 53.7 million, down from 55.8 million in Q1, and down 27% year-on-year.
At an event in New Delhi, Nokia unveiled the Asha 501, the first of its next generation of Asha smartphones, powered by the new Nokia Asha platform. Priced at £63 ($99 / €75) before taxes and subsidies, the device is intended to provide a low cost smartphone option in Nokia's product portfolio, positioned between the Lumia range of Windows Phone devices and the Series 40 range of feature phone devices.
Guest writer Ow Kah Leong reports here on Spotify, the subscription music streaming service, which has opened its virtual doors to extra countries around the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Yet Spotify is not necessarily in the Nokia Store in those countries. Of course not - that would be far too easy. All is not lost though, as Kah writes below.