In episode 5, season 2, of the 361 Degrees Podcast the set themselves a 'fun' challenge - to choose a new pre-pay mobile phone costing less than £100 to give as a as a Christmas present. To keep thing fair we limited our shopping spree to UK retailer Carphone Warehouse. The underlying idea of the episode was to look at the products on offer at the lower end of the market, an area that doesn't usually receive much attention.
Recent News - General - Page 4
It appears that Google has finally withdrawn its official Gmail client, written in Java, for Symbian smartphones. Version 2.06 hadn't been updated for two years and I'm guessing that changes at the server end meant that at some point in the near future the client was going to stop working anyway. To avoid complaints, Google has simply pulled the download page for the client. A shame, given that many on S60 3rd Edition phones still use it and would have liked the option to re-install it when needed (though see the PS below).
With the news that mobile (and especially Symbian) stalwarts SPB Software has been bought up by Yandex, a Russian search company, the future of star products such as the free SPB TV was in serious doubt. Happily, it seems that this application has been spun off into a separate, independent enterprise, under the company name MobiWorld Media. This should ensure SPB TV's continued existence for all mobile platforms. More below.
With Nokia already putting NFC into all its Symbian smartphones and with RIM and Samsung also launching some models with the technology, plus HTC, Apple and others planning NFC into their roadmaps, Digitimes is reporting that Taiwanese smartphone manufacturers are estimating 50% penetration of NFC within two to three years. From my own observations this seems about right, though I'd put it at 80% for smartphones away from the budget end.
Anecdotally, the Proporta chargers have been hugely popular amongst my Phones Show viewership and 'All About' readers generally - and there's a new monster version now available, clocking in at a stunning 7000mAh. The Turbocharger 7000 has two USB output ports as usual, along with a facelifted exterior, weighs only 175g, and comes with charging heads for all major phone and gadget ports and a carrying case. Watch this space for a full review.
Not Symbian-related directly, but I did note that Nokia has launched 'Nokia Maps Creator', aimed at letting people make small edits or additions to existing maps - and edits are available to all Nokia Maps users 'immediately'. Initially, this is only for 'previously unmapped' countries, but it's possible that moderated edits might come to other countries in time. Some links and quotes below.
Andrew Orlowski's posts on Psion, Nokia and Symbian over at The Register are often a rollicking read, especially for geeks interested in Symbian's past. This five page article is all about Hildon, the UI (and indeed 'platform', or so argues the piece) that was evolved to Series 90, used in the Nokia 7710, and which underpinned a revamped Series 80, used in the Nokia 9500 and 9300. One for Symbian historians, definitely!
Nokia has put up a super-glossy four minute reminder of its innovations over the last 25 years, from the first mobiles through the advanced audio telephony codecs today - it's a good watch (embedded below) and is a reminder, among other things, of the sheer number of telephony patents stacked up at Nokia HQ (remember that Apple had to pay up earlier this year?).
Smartphone sales statistics are now out for Q3, 2011, thanks to Gartner. Sales of Symbian-powered smartphones in the quarter were down 10 million from last year's total, at just under 20 million, but still notably higher than sales of Apple's high profile iOS devices. Sales of Android-powered devices were the strongest, at just over 60 million in the quarter. Some quotes, comment and a table below.
After a month in beta, Nokia Suite (for Windows) has been formally released via the usual Nokia PC connectivity pages, replacing the former Ovi Suite. It's not just a name change though. In addition to the label, there are functional changes, we've included a brief changelog below. The new release version is 3.2.100, replacing the latest beta 3.2.98 that had been in Nokia Beta Labs.
Part two of the first 'live' recording of the 361 Degrees podcast, which took place just after the close of Nokia World, is now available. Rafe Blandford (All About), Ewan MacLeod (Mobile Industry Review) and Ben Smith (Wireless Worker) take questions on the current state of the mobile ecosystem from an invited audience of bloggers and mobile gurus.
Opera has announced updates for its Mobile and Mini browsers, plus its MeeGo netbook and tablet versions. The core engine of Opera has seen numerous optimisations and tweaks, while the clients have seen significant functionality updates. Opera Mobile has been updated to 11.5 (for Symbian and MeeGo) and most notably supports viewing bookmarks saved in the Symbian browser, along with an import function. Meanwhile Opera Mini v6.5 now features intelligent autocomplete of domains and search queries. Mini 6.5 also sports a unified address and search bar, unlike Mobile 11.5.
Quite a lot has been written in comments here on AAS (and AAM) about Nokia's switch to Windows Phone for their top end smartphones going into 2012 and beyond. And a common question is "Why Windows Phone?" In other words, what makes it different, what makes its UI 'better' than Symbian - or indeed MeeGo? Determined to find out Microsoft and Nokia's answers to these questions, David and I headed to the Speakers Corner session on "Smart Talk: Life Enhancing Phones" at Nokia World...
Nokia are backing the launch of 26 free WiFi hotspots across London. The launch coincides with the soon to be released Lumia devices, but the hotspots will of course work with any type of device. Web page authentication is required, and it’s not yet clear if WEP or WPA encryption will be used. As a further tie in with Nokia, each hotspot (and future hotspots) will be listed in Nokia Maps as a point of interest.
Figures are now in from IDC for the world phone market in Quarter 3, 2011, showing the market flattening in the USA and Western Europe as saturation sets in. However, the proportion of smartphones in the overall mix continues to rise. Nokia is still king in terms of sheer numbers, selling over a hundred million phones in the quarter, although Samsung is catching up relatively quickly. IDC's stats table is quoted below, though we don't yet have a breakdown of smartphone-only sales.