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Summary:

Nokia today unveiled the N8, its first handset that uses both the Symbian 3 operating system and the Qt cross-platform application framework. With the new operating system, Nokia hopes to reverse market share losses and prove that it can still reign atop the smartphone world.

Nokia today unveiled the N8, the first handset from the Finnish company to use both the Symbian 3 operating system and the Qt cross-platform application framework. Although the physical hardware of the N8 is attractive, the Symbian 3 software is more important to Nokia’s future. The company’s falling status as a market leader is largely due to its reliance on an old interface not fully optimized for touch, so Symbian 3 represents Nokia’s best chance to prove that it can still reign atop the smartphone world.

The N8 touchscreen supports multitouch navigation and gestures, the ability to run multiple programs simultaneously and social network status updates directly from the home screen. With a 12-megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics, consumers can use the N8 to create and edit HD-quality video recordings, which can be shared or viewed on a television by connecting the N8 with a cable. Nokia plans to launch the N8 in the third quarter for 370 euros ($492) in select markets.

The N8 marks Nokia’s largest undertaking to recapture lost smartphone market share — which has dropped to 39 percent from over 50 percent just two years ago . Some of that loss has come at the hands of newer mobile operating systems, such as those from Apple (a aapl) and Google. As competitors created new platforms and user interfaces, Nokia relied heavily on its aging Symbian S60 system. The lone smartphone exception is Nokia’s N900, which runs on the Maemo platform — a derivative of Linux.

While the hardware looks stellar on paper — the first images captured with the N8’s camera rival those of a high-quality dedicated digital camera, for example — Nokia is pinning its hope on the software that will power the N8 as well as future Nokia phones. Using the new Symbian 3 platform, Nokia hopes to reverse its market share losses and prove to consumers that it can still reign atop the smartphone world. And by leveraging the Qt environment that it owns, Nokia is also attempting to woo developers to write software for new Symbian 3 devices.

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By Kevin C. Tofel

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  1. Kevin, I doubt Nokia can beat Apple or Google, I be happy if they can match RIMM , Palm and Microsoft. Mutlitouch, social web, app store , email, 3D games are all common to most platforms. The only way Nokia can get jump ahead of the competition is by superior battery technology and super fast performance. They have to invent a smartphone that can last two days without charging.

    1. How about they retain their own share of the market — i think it could be very key for them to hold on to what they have. Otherwise they could lose everything they have in emerging markets where smart phones are just taking off.

      1. Om, Exactly, they need to retain their current smartphone market share. But I don’t see that happening while Apple, Google,RIMM and rejuvenated Microsoft launching multiple devices. Their best bet is to buy Palm. Use the software on a slab like phone. Revamp the app store. Pretty much every app made for Apple can be run on WebOS. Which is not the same case with other platform.

        1. I think the interesting part of this conversation is the impact on Samsung and LGs of the world. I bet those guys will be clobbered and will be hurting badly. Why do I say that — Nokia is at least trying to make an effort to build web-services but these other guys are just doing the same old same old. I think it is they who are going to find themselves on a slippery slope.

    2. You do comparision on power management and Nokia beats everyone by miles on Power mangement so there is no problem with phone. Gap of UI is being covered with N8. Nokia rocks and will make sure the way they had fullfilled everyones dream of having phone this time they will take it to the next level and will fullfill dream of having smartphone in everybody’s hand.

  2. I bought my N97 back in October and after 2 major fw updates it is finally usable. I would love to move to Android or iPhone, but the thing holding me back is the mobile WiFi hotspot app Joikuspot. I can’t live without it. (I get my iPhone fix with my 2nd gen Touch tethered.) You have to hack Android to get this and iPhone will probably never have it (Palm, yes, but I’m not that daring ;-) The N8 looks pretty good and Nokia wouldn’t have to improve much from the N97 to convince me to stay with them. It looks like they’ve fixed the flash bleed problem by separating the lens more and that’s my biggest beef.

  3. My best friend switched from iPhone to Nokia. After a year, he’s now back with iPhone. According to him, Nokia smartphone s#&cks!

    1. I have both and I agree!
      BTW, I plan to use my Nokia running Joikuspot when I get my iPadwifi in 2 weeks time :-)

    2. Raymond Padilla AK Tuesday, April 27, 2010

      How is your comment the least bit useful when you don’t mention which iPhone he was coming from and which Nokia phone he went to?

  4. Not gonna happen. If the planet was upgrading from Nokia X to Nokia X+, this phone would rock. But we’re not. We’re transitioning from Nokia X to Smartphone Y, and the iPhone and Android OS still appear to be much better.

    That said, a 12mp camera on a device this size is amazing.

    1. +1 to that. That said, it would keep them competitive in places where they like buying Nokia and Apple isn’t around just yet.

      1. Once Android phones start going down market, and if (HUGE if) Apple one day decides to release, say, an iPhone Nano, won’t Nokia sales get decimated, even where they’re strong?

        I figure Nokia has about a year long window…

      2. Om,you hit the nail on the head, when you said that it’s very important for Nokia to consolidate on their dominance in the emerging markets. In many ways, this gives Nokia something to fall back upon. This is why, even after having probably the worst year in company history, they still ended Q1 of 2010 with over €800 million profit. And this is also, why shortsighted US tech blogs that claim Nokia is going to follow Palm and just implode are wrong, Nokia always have the emerging market and the low to mid range device segments to fall back upon. And there’s no doubt that the company realizes this, before the announcement of the N8 they announced 3 other phones aimed at the low-mid market segment:the C3, C6 and the E5.

        Om, What do you feel about the N8?? Personally, I was very impressed with the specs and some of the features like Dolby 5.1 Surround, USB On the go and a Xenon flash. Although, I think Symbian^3 will still not cut it when compared to other Operating systems, it will represent a definite improvement over Symbian^1. What do you think Om? Do you think Nokia are heading in the right direction?

  5. How long has Nokia been trying to get their service strategy up? Ovi is only the most recent reincarnation and it’s at least 2.5 years old with what seems like relatively low levels of adoption. That, plus the nearly constant reboots of their platforms have resulted in a sad state where if you want updates and backwards compatibility… you buy Apple. :(

    I love my N900 as much as my 3GS, but had I known that Maemo 6 and its predictable timeline for release was to be killed off for yet another platform reboot, I’d have skipped it.

  6. Interesting. A most definite buy for me.

    Also, while you are discussing about the impact of iPhones, Android mobiles etc, do keep in mind that they aren’t exactly huge either.

    http://mashable.com/2010/02/23/gartner-smartphones/

    I mean… symbian still sold “as the most underrated” smartphone OS over 80 million units? Talk about install base worldwide…

  7. Symbian 3 Courts Developers With HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Thursday, April 29, 2010

    [...] 3. Using the web standards of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, developers can create software for devices such as Nokia’s new N8, which was introduced earlier this week as the first handset to run the Symbian 3 operating system. [...]

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    [...] recently announced new operating systems to better compete — Nokia will utilize Symbian 3 in new handsets such as the N8, while RIM plans to power future smartphones with BlackBerry 6 in the third quarter of [...]

  9. iPhone and Android Fueling Worldwide Smartphone Growth – A Collection of Latest Happening in Technology Field Friday, May 7, 2010

    [...] recently announced new operating systems to better compete — Nokia will utilize Symbian 3 in new handsets such as the N8, while RIM plans to power future smartphones with BlackBerry 6 in the third quarter of [...]

  10. Q: How Many Nokia Reorgs Does It Take to Compete With the iPhone? A: 4 and Counting Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    [...] run Symbian S40 and S60, Maemo, Microsoft Windows, MeeGo and in the near future, Symbian 3, which will power the new Nokia N8 (shown). Effectively integrating cloud services across one platform is a challenge — a topic [...]

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