This was (believe it or not) my first actual 'Nokia World'. Previous attempts to attend had been scuppered, but I was determined to make it for 2011. The size of the Excel centre has to be seen to be believed. Nokia had taken over most of one end, with an enormous keynote theater (doubling as party venue for the night-time bash), which is where the Wednesday photos over in the All About Windows Phone gallery came from:
Plus a huge exhibition area, which is where the dining area, stands and 'speaker's corners' were sited. When this was opened, after the keynote, Nokia went for a 'Close Encounters' feel, with all the lights dimmed and stand staffers waving lit-up phones in time to throbbing electronic music - all very surreal and quite effective.
Once most people were in, the main lights came up and we got on with the show 'proper'. Here's one view of the main show floor booths:
As I say, all very impressive and must have cost Nokia millions of Euros to hire and set up.
The Windows Phone launches have been covered in detail over on our sister site, All About Windows Phone, but there were also a number of low end Series 40 handsets designed to sell well in developing countries, under the sub-brand name 'Asha'. It's not appropriate to go into all of these on AAS, of course - see, for example, the Engadget coverage.
The new Lumias, running Windows Phone, were being demonstrated in abundance, of course, but there were two dedicated stands for Symbian smartphones too, plus other Symbian units in significant numbers on the other themed stands (music, maps, NFC, etc).
Here's the stand with the newest devices, the Nokia 603, Nokia 700 and Nokia 701, shown off in a variety of colours and finishes:
And here a mixed stand, with some new and some of the original Symbian^3 smartphones:
The 700, that I'm currently reviewing, was being shown in many guises, including this rather fetching white:
And here's a couple of 701s, possibly the best all round Symbian smartphone so far:
Special credit has to go to the team on the Symbian stands for having the shiniest phones at the show. Watching the team at work, they went the extra mile by going round each phone after it had been played with, wiping it clean of fingerprints!
Also on display were all the NFC-paired Bluetooth accessories launched recently, including the Luna headset, modelled here (which I really can't get my brain around, but then I'm not the target demographic!) and the Play speaker system (superb materials and build, I loved these).
Of the old favourites on show, the N8 was looking particularly resplendent in shocking pink under the show lights and rocking Symbian Belle - I saw a number of N8s loaded with Symbian Belle - I'd guess that we'll see this on Nokia's update services within a month or so.:
Covering the event for AAS and for AAWP (and for various other interests!) were your usual team, of course. From left to right: Steve Litchfield, David Gilson, Ewan Spence and Rafe Blandford - a rare group sighting!
Elsewhere at Nokia World, there was plenty of Symbian if you looked, in amongst the higher profile Windows Phone handsets. Not least because of the sheer number of attendees with N8s and E7s, plus all the Nokia staffers equipped with C701s, reading the NFC tags on each attendee's name badge.... remember that NFC has yet to make it to the brave new world of Windows Phone!
In addition, everyone I talked to seemed to be bowled over by Symbian Belle - it seems the tide of popular opinion has turned. With Belle becoming available and with Symbian now perceived to be the 'underdog', it has apparently now become acceptable again to say positive things about the OS.
Could it be that Belle sees a stabilisation of Symbian in the smartphone world, reversing the steady (but very evident) decline in world marketshare? Let's hope so.
Steve Litchfield, 28th October 2011