10 Comments

Summary:

Reuters recently reported that Nokia is going to unveil its first touchscreen phone, the Tube, on October 2nd.  I happen to believe the report is accurate and it will be interesting to see what Nokia does with the Tube.  Om Malik of GigaOM has been calling […]

Nokia_tubeReuters recently reported that Nokia is going to unveil its first touchscreen phone, the Tube, on October 2nd.  I happen to believe the report is accurate and it will be interesting to see what Nokia does with the Tube.  Om Malik of GigaOM has been calling for a Nokia touch phone for a long time and thinks that Nokia is coming too late with the Tube.  He has some valid points but I must respectfully disagree with his opinion.

Touch phones are hot right now thanks to the popularity of the iPhone.  The touch interface of the iPhone has changed the game in the handset space and for the good.  More importantly I believe it’s changed the game permanently and that handset makers agree with me.  There have been a number of touch phones appear since the iPhone’s debut and I don’t think that will slow up any time soon.  The new Google phone, the G1 from T-Mobile, is a touch phone and it will certainly be a game changer in the phone market and I think the Nokia Tube will too.

The fact is that Nokia is one of the largest handset sellers in the world, if not the biggest.  The S60 platform which Nokia uses is on more phones than any other world-wide so the fact is that anything Nokia does matters.  They are the 500-pound gorilla so if they want to Tube they can.  Nokia’s sales numbers are so huge that they don’t have to be first to market, nor even the best.  They’ll still sell more Tubes than Apple sells iPhones.  I think Om may change his mind when he sees the reaction to the Nokia touch phone but we’ll see.

(photo courtesy of Symbian Freak)

  1. There were touch phones before the iPhone. I personally used a Motorola A1200 for a year and a half before I got my iPhone.

    To me what made the iPhone work was careful UI design that reduced how much you needed to use the touch. It was simple and didn’t make gratuitous use of the touch feature to make you touch it more than necessary.

    The A1200 was loaded with Linux crapware that had a busy UI that was like a new born baby of attention seeking design.

    I’ve used a pile of Nokia phones as well and they’re also one of the reasons I swore I’d buy the first cell phone Apple ever made (and silently sent psychic waves in their direction beseeching them to make one). Maybe they’ve gotten it and improved their ways and the Tube will be a wonder. Or, as is usually the case, they haven’t changed their ways and it will be a “So you want a freakin’ touch screen, we’ve got your freakin’ touch screen right here” design layered on top of the prior non-touch screen design concepts. Business as usual, only with virtual buttons.

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  2. Nokia is by far the biggest handset maker, with 40% of the market share. And i think the adoption of touchscreen technology on all their phones is vital for them in the long run, it’s simply not something they could afford to pass by.

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  3. I see both points, but I’m leaning towards Om’s point of view on this one. As Scotty alluded to, there have been touchscreens on phones for years. If that was the only item needed for success, every phone would be a Windows Mobile-powered phone now. ;) I agree with Om that simply putting a touchscreen on a phone is “too little”. The user interface has to seamlessly blend with the touchscreen and add value. We’ll have to see how touch is integrated into the S60 operating system and I suspect that’s what Om was indicating. If it’s not done well but will be in the future, that’s the “too late” part.

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  4. Of course Kevin you would takes sides with your boss. Can this stop being the GigaOM cheerleading site..

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  5. Hi David, I actually don’t report to Om, so he’s not my boss. ;) Feel free to substitute any name for Om’s in the post above and in my comment as well. I would have responded the same regardless and I’ve explained why along with the reason why.

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  6. Why I do think every manufacturer probably needs to have touch integration somewhere in the lineup because people are coming to expect it after the iPhone, I don’t think it is always the best way to use each operating system. I saw the mockup touch S60 stuff at Mobile World Congress earlier this year and it looked just like S60 with a touch UI. If that is all we will see, then I don’t think it will be anything special.

    For Nokia to have an influence with a touch S60 OS then need to overhaul the entire S60 interface to make it touch friendly and intuitive like the iPhone.

    As Kevin stated there has been touch on Windows Mobile for years and the adoption by consumers has not been that great. It is getting better on Windows Mobile thanks in large part to HTC and what they are trying to do with the Diamond line and TouchFLO 3D.

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  7. I’d just like to remind everyone that Nokia’s made a touch-screen smartphone before (as recently as 2004), and based on Symbian, even (S90)… It’s the 7710, and although it was pretty slow, it was definitely feature-packed. In fact, UI-wise, it’s the predecessor to the 770, N800 and N810 tablets!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnkgrl/sets/72157602993911518/

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  8. Just came here to comment about the 7710 too ;) tnkgrl beat me to it!

    I’m really hoping Nokia pulls out a big surprise with this device – because I quite like the way it looked in the new product shots.

    But also – where’s my N-series touch device. I would have thought this would debut there if Nokia really thought it was worthwhile.

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  9. As an E90 user I’d be happy with the UI as is but it really does need a touch screen for moving around in documents. Having to use that flat four way thingy is abysmal and slow.

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  10. This is plan and simple….
    Nokia tube = BATMAN

    there it is, i’m buying one.

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