Nokia's Touch Phone on Oct 2. Too Little Too Late?

26 Comments

Nokia (s NOK) is going to release a touch-screen phone on Oct. 2nd, Reuters is reporting today. Based on comments the company made earlier this summer, the device, code-named “Tube,” will be cheaper than rival models and be aimed at hot growth markets, such as India. In a post earlier this month, I had asked about the whereabouts of this phone. Here is what I wrote then: “It has been over a year since the iPhone was launched, and Nokia still doesn’t have anything new to show except for some videos. Sign of a company that is, well…yes, I’m just going to say it…too bureaucratic. Either that or they’ve decided to adopt the ostrich approach to competition.”

Well, at least a response is coming, if this news is actually true. Since it’s coming from Reuters, I am inclined to believe it. Nevertheless, my first reaction was: Is this too little, too late? After all, many of their smaller rivals — LG, Samsung, even HTC — have responded with interesting if not entirely effective competitors to Apple’s iPhone (s AAPL). The lack of a touch-screen device makes Nokia look like a slow-moving giant that is trying to respond to whiplash-inducing changes in the mobile business.

Nokia has to grapple with the new reality of creating a seamless web and software experience on its phones. As a regular user of all things Nokia, I have to say they are not even close. Ovi, music download services and other features they have introduced don’t quite seem to have the seamlessness of an iPhone or even a Samsung Instinct.

Regardless, I will wait to see what comes out of Helsinki in a few days. What are your thoughts on Nokia and its lack of a touch device? Is the “Tube” is going to change anything?

26 Comments

kevin_405

IPhone is great but with its weired marketing and high cost shuns a lot of users..
I would never sign up for a 3 year plan just to get iphone…

Is there any other company that makes handsets with better radios than Nokia. Nokia XPress Music costs 299$ with out contract… yes a great price for a good device..

I still think Nokia with its pricing and pro consumer approach will previal..

Anon

Well I know of one web browser that runs flash, but the main problem is the scaling and website support. It runs flash video in browser perfectly fine from DailyMotion.com

But then again it is a N95 running R&D software.

Ramanan

I have a Nokia N91,It always delivers me the Good Quality music with 8 band Eq.,Stereo Widening and Loudness. it Shines in All Aspects with the S60 V3. This can be expected in the Nokia’s Tube too as it also belongs to S60.
But in iphone the very famous ipod lacks Eq. or any other Audio Settings. Shame on it.

AC

Jose, I believe those Google stats are for the U.S. market only. As for Opera Mini being “still very far from the iPhone”, that’s a bit subjective, yes? I for one want to get to my web content straight away without any finger gymnastics, and actually prefer mobile-optimized sites on a handheld screen.

And KenC, again I must ask: Why is touch (or multi-touch) a benchmark feature for smartphones? By this logic Tablet PCs would vastly outsell regular laptops, yet AFAIK that’s not the case…

KenC

@AC, it’s not how many devices have an Opera browser, it’s how many are actually using them, and how much they are using them. As for how many, there were 6M EDGE iPhones sold before they were phased out. Analysts are estimating from 4.5M to 6M 3G iPhones sold this quarter, leading to a total of 10.5M to 12M total iPhones, not counting iPod Touches which also use Safari’s mobile browser. Apple’s mobile browser dominates the mobile browser category according to webstats. It’s not even close.

As for the iPhone and how others compete, it’s not enough to just have a touch screen. The iPhone has a MULTI-touch screen. Why is it that everyone forgets that? To compete, you need to implement multi-touch, not just touch. That’s what has differentiated the iPhone so far. It’s all about multi-touch. None of the other phones have it, yet.

Jose Miguel Cansado

AC, I have had an Nokia N70 and N73, both with Opera, and the mobile web experience is still very far from the iPhone.

Some facts, extracted from a previous post:
“In January, Google disclosed that the traffic to Google sites from iPhones had surpassed any other smartphone, despite iPhone accounts for only 2% of the worldwide smartphones, Nokia’s Symbian 63%, Windows Mobile 11% and RIM 10%.

Later in March, M:Metrics confirmed that 85% of iPhone users access the web from their handset, compared to 58% of smarphones, and a mere 13% of the overall market.”

Read (and watch) more:
http://tech-talk.biz/2008/05/15/at-last-mobile-web-thanks-to-iphone/

AC

Jose, you do realize that the mobile web has actually been around since BEFORE the iPhone, and currently the world’s most popular mobile web browser is Opera Mini — it already has ten million users, at least on par with the best estimate of total iPhones sold thus far:

http://tinyurl.com/45vapu

And before you counter with the iPhone’s “superior web experience”, lets remember that NONE of the mobile browsers on the market can currently handle Flash.

Jose Miguel Cansado

@symbianguru, as you mention it is not about number of features (iPhone is lacking a few) but about making the user experience enjoyable. e.g. iPhone’s Safari browser has finally made mobile web a reality.

And it is not the touch-screen only. Windows Mobile phones had it before the iPhone (although less cool). I know many people waiting for the Blackberry Bold to switch back to BB from iPhone, because for mobile email, there is nothing like Blackberry with its qwerty keyboard.

RIM makes great business mobile email devices, iPhone makes a great cool multimedia & web device, Android makes great open mobile Internet & communication devices. Nokia keeps doing phones (with a me-too multimedia player)

Jim

Om,

I love your entries, but this one makes no sense. First of all why do you assume this is for developing countries? Cuz it is low cost? and I think low cost is relative and it is more targeted for the EU where people don’t spend a lot of money on Phones. Too late? why too late? Apple V2 just came out and GPhone V1 just came out too. The other guys have produced ridiculous phones that I don’t even consider competitors. In Europe, the iPhone has done terrible and Nokia is still going strong. Don’t look at the US market. Plus, you really don’t know what the new Nokia can do, let’s wait until Oct 2 and then judge. Let’s make something clear, I don’t work for Nokia and only owned one Nokia phone back in the 90’s but have been doing Mobile for a long time…

AC

I have a bit of an issue with the premise of this piece, i.e. that a touch-screen is a make-or-break feature on a successful mobile device.

Could it not be that Nokia (and RIM, for that matter) are releasing touch-screen devices to satisfy an irrational market demand for them?

Abhishek Baxi

I’m a HTC Touch user. I’m a perenial Nokia anti-fan. Haven’t seen any major innovation coming from Helsinki. Let’s face it N-series is ohh lala but still, bulky phones with average UX.

Gimme a WinMo anyday.

Patch

@Francis “Their advantage is with the business user, which is where Apple has missed the mark with the iPhone.”

This is funny :) I can see a Blackberry user say that, Nokia in the business world ? I see iPhone everywhere in the corporate world.

Raul

Nokia has long missed the bus. Its their lack of forward thinking that has left a lot of the industry stagnant. But they left a huge big gaping hole out of pure greed and Apple came and exploited it.

If they spent their considerable revenues on real innovation as opposed to crippling ram and ruining user experience – yes I have been using Symbian since 6600 right till N95 8GB, increasing screen sizes by .1 inch and camera by 2X, building cheap shells and generally profiteering in this unique model of ‘innovation’ Apple wouldn’t have been able to crash the party so easily.

Leadership means nothing if you stop delivering value. You just make yourself vulnerable. Which Nokia phone can deliver an Internet experience rivalling iPhone? Why not? Critics go on about missing feature but there is more to a phone than just hi-res camera, stereo bluetooth, sure some folks can see value in that but a lot of folks also see value in mobile Internet use. Its because of iPhone and now Android that mobile internet is taking off/going to take off in any real way with general consumers who don’t want to struggle with small screens and keypads to use the net on the go.

The issue with iPhone or Android is not what they DON’T offer but what they DO that other phones don’t, so talk of missing features misses the point entirely.

Tony

This post is going to sound like I work for T-Mobile or Google but I don’t.

I’ve been a Nokia fan ever since Nokia e62. I’ve been itching for the N85 to be released and the Tube but Nokia’s been dragging their feet. I’ve been looking for a multimedia phone to replace it but nothing has inspired me to drop wads of cash. And that includes the iPhone.

symbianguru asked: “Is there such a thing as the iPhone killer?”

My answer to that is YES! Let’s face it: after you get past the hardware, what makes a phone great is the software and user experience. Apple got both down. Their user experience is outstanding. However, T-Mobile launched the G1 running the Google Android platform. It absolutely can complete with iPhone. Will it win any beauty contests? Probably not. But look at the 3 videos on YouTube explaining how it works and check this out and tell me what you think:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inRMILwJa-U
http://t-mobileg1.com/g1-announcement.aspx

This is for the techies but even if you’re not, you’ll see why G1 running Android slams iPhone. Plus it’s OpenSource. So developers have already written some extremely cool apps. How about scanning a barcode, having the software check prices on the web and showing you who has the lowest price on the web AND brick-n-mortor? http://www.biggu.com/
Android Architecture Overview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm6Ju0xhUW8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL6gSd4ugSI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPukbH6D-lY

Brian Kirk

I thought for a while that they were simply trying to differentiate themselves from everyone else by not “giving in” to what they thought to be a trend in the mobile device space. Obviously sales figures don’t lie & Nokia is realizing very quickly that users want touch screen devices. It’d be great if Nokia has just been waiting because they are going to add something more than just a touch screen.

Francis

I’m a Nokia user. Their advantage is with the business user, which is where Apple has missed the mark with the iPhone.

symbianguru

Jose Miguel Cansado,

Thanks for the insight, but you didn’t answer my question. Not pertaining specifically to Nokia, there are several manufacturers now (Samsung, LG, etc) with devices that feature a full-touchscreen user interface with few buttons, and the same user input methods as the iPhone (onscreen keypad).

By your assertion, the iPhone will never be topped because no one can duplicate the user experience, is that true? So then, if someone came along with the features that the iPhone clearly lacks (copy/paste, haptics, etc), it would still not even come close, simply because ‘it’s not an iPhone?’

That’s rather silly, don’t you think?

Finnsense

It’s been an open secret in Espoo that the touchscreen was coming out in the fourth quarter. I haven’t heard anything about it being a cheap version but people who work there tend to make a face when you mention it, suggesting that they aren’t that impressed. A few months ago it wasn’t the same at all. They were all crowing about tactile feedback and the fact it won’t be tied to one operator. Much less enthusiastic now.

Personally, I like my N82 and think that the iphone is for girls.

Jose Miguel Cansado

”It is the usability, stupid.”

e.g.:
Why Nokia keeps doing phones with dial pads, when most of the inputs to a mobile phone are text entries(SMS, a contact name, an URL…)? How many phone numbers you actually dial from a mobile phone nowadays to make a phone call?

“The innovation […] is not that they let us do something new, but that they allow us to do what we already do better, more often, in more places and more quickly.” -Joshua Porter

Another post on the topic: http://tech-talk.biz/2008/06/23/nokia-still-dont-get-it/

symbianguru

My question to you, honestly, is what would this phone need to do/feature to be anything other than a disappointment? Since the iPhone came out, the usual label for any touchscreen-equipped phone is ‘iPhone Killer’, after which people declare that it’s not better than the iPhone. So, my question to you, Om, is, ‘IS there such thing as an iPhone killer?’ I.e. is there, realistically, anything that a new phone COULD do that might best the iPhone?

For instance, the LG Dare – full touchscreen interface, fun to use, microSD card slot, standard 3.5mm audio port, GPS, 3G, 3.2mp cam with autofocus, VIDEO RECORDING, A2DP, etc, and yet that’s not an iPhone competitor, much less killer? Does *anything* stand a chance, and if not, why?

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