A fellow S60 user and fan posted an interesting and intelligent post on his site …
Here is my stance.
Being a leader in the mobile phone manufacturing business can lead to supremacy, but supremacy in features over a long period of time can lead to stagnation in other devices while competitors catch up. Just over 3yrs now Nokia has made S60 phones with WiFi support and more than 3.2MP resolution for camera’s. They have not been alone in this field as HTC and a few CDMA based manufacturers (LG/Sharp) have caught up as well – if not lead in the MP race. Prior to this Nokia along with Ericsson where the FIRST manufacturers (Ericsson beat Nokia by 6mths) to make a true smartphone where 3rd party applications could be installed used by the end user. Over the years this has lead to 2 major things for Nokia and other manufacturers. Supremacy in sales, revenue, and a new paradigm market segmentation for smartphones.
Now that the markets (in various targets within country’s, and around the world) & their users varying within them have matured along with the growing interest & use of the internet; smartphone users, choice of smartphones, and applications have grown/replicated.
Prior to the smartphone race, and still existent today for “emerging markets”, manufacturers made phones with slowly advancing features – as paradigms shifted when technologies allowed for it – for [b]mass[/b]-markets (marketing 101). Target margets where delegated for high-end phones of style and higher cost to the user; usually when the R&D really didn’t improve much. Examples included Nokia’s first faceplate changing phones 3330(?) vs Ericsson’s lower T series phones (T18z/i, etc). Now phones that had slightly more style or allowed 1 major “feature” (I use this term LOOSELY; as you’ll soon see why) in the higher priced phones. Nokia had the Matrix slider phone – I’m unsure if this was the worlds first mass-marketed slider/first built for sale. Ericsson offered the T-28W which was a “world” phone and very slim even by today’s standards, and offered exceptional battery life in talk time – by today’s standards would shame some feature phones. A few years after 1990 phones being featured in blockbuster movies where not enough to make significant revenue for sales – instead product placement was for brand-name recognition (something SE and Sony Pictures uses the recent few Bond movies). Today dumb phones are now called feature phones because they actually do add features (x/html-web browsing, mp3/aac audio playback, decent/quality camera features).
During the last 2-4yrs smartphones have simproved, significantly in the past 2 of those years. High end megapixels. More smartphones supporting push email service & functionality (thx Waterloo!). Better browsing support (html, xhtml, web standards, login script saving, individual setting/history clearing, larger bookmark support), and of course only on S60 – FLASH support, yeah baby! For so long Nokia phones have had the fastest cpu’s in use for smartphones until HTC began to compete with WM phones with regards to MP, WiFi (they started I think), 3G races. However the major push is not so much use of internet on smartphones – although this has been climbing on phones in general due to social communities taking rise. The major push has been the move to 2 things. Unified communications and unified platform base for each smartphone OS. Keep this in mind I’ll get back to this.
Now, so many S60 faithful are bored, been complaining, and yet blind to see whats been happening to Nokia and S60. Open platforms is going to be a huge & significant change to all our future smartphones, how we use them and what they offer & a major paradigm shift! Andriod and Linux have made this big in the news like an elephant jumping off a 12 foot high diving platform into smartphone pool. Even though LiMo foundation has been at this for a while, nobody … nobody has had an open OS for as long and as powerful as Symbian. The real “open” OS cat out there is S60 and has been for over 10yrs solid!
One can argue that Java’s J2ME has a larger spread over the PC universe and in every single phone (save a few hundred thousand using Brew) sold in any market and bought by any user regardless of cultural differences today; but its limited in its current form, and even with MIDP3.0 will not significantly create a new powerful paradigm. Many ppl scoff at Symbian’s statement that Symbian is open – yet don’t realize there are more than 5 iterations of Symbian (more than I can name): S60, UIQ, um … one used in China, another in Japan, and another in other Asian/Indian markets by there respective providers.
Nokia has had a super phone for the world just over 2yrs – and they marketed that N95 very well. If offered to be the jack-of-all-trades and do well at it like no other phone on the market can. I can only recall the 7650 coming close to that in recent memory vs its peers in any time frame. Nokia still makes phones for increasing markets and for new entrants; the N96 is not to replace the N95 but a new flagship to help increase the DVB-H potential user base and increase awareness of this technology so more markets already approved it as a standard can begin delivering it (industrial age marketing “build it and they will come”). The N85 offers just about everything the N95 does with better battery life, better quality screen image, USB charging which so many S60 users have been complaining about (just like a larger screen on N95-2/4 they got it). You loose on the screen though, and for N95-1/3 users this can be an upgrade but isn’t targeted as such; while N95-2/4 users neither the N85/96 is for you; those are for new users. Your pie is coming next year, but not before the successor of the N93.
Nokia and Samsung, like so many major manufacturers & wireless providers are so focused on the birth and evolution of the Symbian Foundation; many ppl miss whats going on. Combining the strengths of all those Symbian-based GUI’s, API’s, and their efficiency’s allows for more than a feature packed or robust OS. It allows for a more complete Unified Mobile Communications platform. Forget VoIP for the network. Forget VoIP for WiFi or UMA support. Anyone not realize or notice that nothing higher than 1.3MP video camera has been used in a mass produced or even prototype phone yet?!?!! HMMM! Data plans are getting MUCH much cheaper around the western world and emerging markets. Bandwidth limitations some will say is the bottleneck; to some degree yes. Now how many of you have used or seen a true VoIP+Video Conferencing solution like Polycom?! Imagine true 30fps VGA or XVGA MOBILE video conference solution in a limo, your home, a teamroom setup at a client site conference, etc without lag, without chop and ease of setup across differing hardware and locations! Now imagine an evolved, mature mobile operating system able to deliver this efficiently, effectively and seemlessly over different markets (large) around the world?
Now think further. The Social. Imagine combining social paradigms and merging social cultures together and still allowing them to be unique. Imagine this with combining Facebook, MySpace, Qik, and gaming (NGage in a way that PS3’s Home will offer) in the next 3-5yrs!! You would not just phone someone (cellular/Voip/uma) any longer. You’d reach out to them. You’d access their mobile homepage – a server page on their device (or memory storage); a page you can interact with live or offline for the host and the host can add new content and passively/actively interact with you and several ppl with whether being in a meeting, chilling at the beach, and a wild Danny Tenaglia DJ party, or proposing to a new lifelong mate. Heck the girl/guy you’re proposing too uploads your proposal to their friends & family. Networking will never be the same. Most of this is already capable on S60 but its still in a very static way, not a live, interactive and fully immersive way. Content is still created. uploaded. accessed. shared+commented on. then either shared again or removed to repeat. I’m emphasizing the stops to show you what is missing from the social paradigm today.
Kids can use their flip phones as field trip science tools: Macro pictures can give insight on cell-wall structures of plants and insects, or identify different species with their varying internet connections available.
Accessibility will also change. Voice to text and text to speach will soon become very natural, pleasant and possibly even language translation may be done over a few minutes locally via OS, fast multi-core cpu’s, and software. That dream from Ericsson to have a digital BT pen that other companies tried to take up; will actually be used by artists. No longer to log around a laptop.
Sure, the BB Bold’s & Storm’s have slightly higher video recording resolutions, feature phones and new competing smartphones from Samsung have smile/frown face detection photo capabilities; but the quality is still there. No major change or advancement in user applications that can fully use them on the RIM devices (Bold & Storm). You still don’t want to take a picture of your kids and family [b]not[/b] smiling 95% of the time – save for most of the shots you’re going to take this Friday on Hallowe’en.
Corporate patents have held Nokia & S60’s prowess and speed of applications for quite some time now. The 369mhz dual-core cpu has been the ledge for S60 devices, while HTC WM & Blackberry Bold/Storm devices are now beginning to just equal processing speed with 550+Mhz dual-core cpu speeds. Over the next few months with the various deals Nokia has chip makers (although the recent Texas Instrument sale of their chipset division has me saddened), this should put Symbian Foundations perceived “slow” speed for complex applications aside.
You gotta ask yourself. Did you buy your smartphone because it was stylish and lacking real functionality (BB 8220 flip). Did you buy your smartphone to brag about technology and features it can offer (INNOV8). Did you buy your smartphone because you use it to entertain yourself in Video/Music/Photo (N95/N85/N93)? Or did you buy your smartphone because it suites your communication needs and:
1. your work needs(E66/E71)
2. Music playback & video recording & social connection needs (5800 XM)
3. Mobile TV broadcasting (N96/N77/N92)
4. Photography aspirations while travelling light & mobile (N93/N73/N95).
See the market strength and segmentation?! Does WM, Andriod, LiMo, Java based (including RIM) have that much wide spread target markets? How well do you think they’ll fair without corporate support or if a major corporate paradigm shift from Exchange or Domino occurs and is sustainable over the long rung?!