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At the Nokia World 2008 conference, Nokia (s NOK) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo waxed eloquent about the N97 handset, the company’s highest-end phone, and described it as the “world’s most advanced mobile computer.” He went on to say, “We are, in fact, transforming the Internet — putting in your hands the power to be more in tune with the world around you.” The device has finally launched, and those bold claims by Olli-Pekka aside, the N97 is barely making a wave in this summer of the superphone.
I have had the N97 for nearly three weeks, and my response to the device every time I use it is: Meh! Since it is the U.S. version of the handset, it works fine with AT&T’s (s T) 3G network (if you can call it that), but the gadget is underwhelming. After having used the iPhone, Google (s GOOG) G2 (or T-Mobile MyTouch) and Palm Pre, the N97 — its outstanding hardware features notwithstanding — feels outdated. It shouldn’t; it has every known software a regular modern mobile phone user wants: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Maps. And yet, it feels like it’s from a different era — like a baseball player, long retired after trying to make a comeback. (In a related post: NewTeeVee reviews the N97, focusing on its video-recording capabilities, and comes away unimpressed.)
If you have been a regular reader, you know I have had a soft spot for Nokia devices. Actually, I still do. The Nokia N73 and 8800 continue to be among my top five favorite phones of all time, and when the opportunity arises, I still carry them around. Why? Because when it comes to quality, Nokia hardware is always top-notch.
The N97, however, doesn’t measure up. And that is very surprising, because it had been one of the most anticipated devices from Nokia. Most know the company is the world’s largest handset maker, and with this gadget, it could compete with new entrants such as Apple. Still, I wanted to see what others thought, so earlier this morning, I asked my Twitter followers if they had any thoughts on N97 and how it was doing around the world. I was surprised by the downbeat responses. The one that was most telling was from @jonfingas, who wrote back: “The N97 to me is Symbian’s inertia coming home to roost. Nokia’s dominance gave it a free ride for the past few years.”
So, what do you think about Nokia’s N97?