As part of a continuing series of features taking a good long look at the state of mobile, and aiming to be as brutally honest as possible, here I use my experience in the mobile industry to tackle the really tough 'what if' questions that have probably been in your brain for the last three or four years, as 'All About' readers. Hopefully my answers will provoke debate in Disqus below, too - why not get involved?
Recent Features - MeeGo
2013 should see, somewhat belatedly, a feature that has been standard on Nokia's Symbian since 2009 (and also on Meego) finally make it onto Windows Phone. Admittedly, there are some technical considerations here, since the feature only works if the devices have an AMOLED screen (most of the Symbian smartphones do/did), but there have also been issues of OS support, I suggest. What I'm talking about is, of course, the 'always on clock', about which I eulogise below, along with gratuitous shots of owls and leaves....
Throughout the history of PDAs and smartphones (so we're talking 20 years), one particular design battle has been raging, seemingly without a victor. From which you have to conclude that the battle is quite evenly matched. Yet I disagree, arguing that, from the user's point of view, there's a very definite winner, while manufacturers have a different preference and slant on this particular aspect of design.
As part of recording Phones Show Chat 180, I took the chance of meeting up with three other longtime smartphone users, spending a happy evening chatting about all things tech. Although I did note a certain self-selecting bias amongst our choice of hardware, the discrepancy between our own 'picks' and the current sales charts/marketshare did take even me by surprise. Is there a point to be made below? Perhaps that Nokia really was crazy to phase out Symbian and Meego quite so hastily? Perhaps that these platforms remain interesting and challenging, perhaps more so now then ever?
Following previous head to heads, many people asked for a comparison between the Nokia N8 camera and that in the Lumia 920 with the PR1.1 camera fix in place. Furthermore, others wanted a direct comparison between shots from the Lumia 920 and industry-standard cameras like that in the new Samsung ATIV S (or Galaxy S III). Finally, I couldn't resist throwing a wild card into the mix with the Meego-powered Nokia N9. Four top camera-toting smartphones, which one will emerge victorious?
It's true, I'm something of a rebel - you can count on me to disagree with the accepted wisdom of the rest of the smartphone world fairly often. Camera phones with real Xenon flash, for example. And I've mused on the trend towards ever-bigger phones before, but with CES 2013 now upon us and 5" and 6"-screened 'phones' now a reality, I find that I just can't stay silent. These monstrosities may well be 'phones' to the well-heeled twenty-something geeks, but to every day mums and dads, and to people who really are mobile, the size rather gets in the way. Having tried everything on the market, I'm convinced that the sweet spot for me is smaller. A lot smaller.
With this direct comparison of the Nokia E7 and N950 'developer' device I don't think I've ever so badly wanted to combine two handsets, picking the best attributes of each - especially galling when you consider that there's no reason whatsoever why Nokia couldn't in fact have done this. For example, three of the E7's acknowledged weaknesses - totally sealed battery, EDoF camera and easily muffled speaker, are addressed head on in the Meego-powered N950, yet you can't buy the latter for love nor money. But one my 'head to heads' should prove instructive, not least to indicate what might have been, should a different designer have been at work on the E7 project...
In this in-depth feature we look at the thinking behind the smartphone portion of Nokia's new strategy, which was announced on February 11th and sees, in essence, a transition from Symbian to Windows Phone. We consider Nokia's three options and explain that ultimately the necessecity for a competitive and sustainable ecosystem proved to be the vital factor in the decision.
Rafe reports back from a 'conversational briefing' with Marko Ahtisaari (Head of Design at Nokia) at Nokia's London Design HQ. There's an explanation of Nokia's "smart push", of how Nokia's three tier device strategy fits together, of how Nokia's software and hardware design teams have been brought together to promote a holistic approach and accelerate the pace of innovation, and there are hints of future design directions for both Symbian and MeeGo devices and software.