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Spillikins No 81. Nokia Ц Touch and Hype. Prospects for S40 Touch

It happens that when I prepare Spillikins in midweek without expecting anything special events develop in a Tetris way. It is when your mind is bombarded by information particles and you should be quick to analyze them. This week belonged to Nokia, which had more leaks about Nokia C7 and the first Nokia N9 leak. I hope this week you will read First Look at Nokia C7. The review will be thorough and grounded. Main ideas on Nokia N9 are given below.

It is worth providing details on the death of Nokia comes with Music. All investment into the promotion of the service turned to be wasted, because the company did not get the expected results. If you remember I wrote that Nokia provided exaggerated reports on the success of Nokia comes with music. Time put it into perspective and while the service was labeled OVI that also failed to deliver. It's a pity. Before moving onto the main news items look at the following links for extra reading.

Contents:

  1. Toys for Kids and Implications for Adults
  2. Inventing the Obvious. Caller's Name
  3. Back to the Future: Forecast from 1910
  4. Nokia "Touch and Type": Second Birth
  5. Apple and Space Clips
  6. Nokia N9 is the Flagship on MeeGo
  7. HTC Branded Retail

Toys for Kids and Implications for Adults

Toy stores are always attacked by children, they go there whenever possible and I follow them. It is good to roam around aisles with hundreds of toy cars, teddy bears and toy soldiers among other things. During three decades after my childhood things have changed dramatically. Familiar toys resemble aliens from the past. They are still recognizable among the multitude of new guests in shopping malls. Around twenty years ago I stumbled upon Toys shop in Murmansk. It was a typical outlet of many scattered around the country. A relic of the past, as journalists say. Faded and lopsided door plaque guarded the world or my childhood. Rare toys on half empty shelves and an elderly shop assistant. I have never been there before, but recognized the place at once. Similar shops were everywhere, when I was a child. I felt nothing but nostalgia. Toys seemed ugly, while dust and desolation compounded the misery. After that visit I tried to give another look at the toys from my childhood. In the memory they were differentЦ bright, attractive and luring.

These recollections were caused by a small toy shop in a provincial Estonian town. On the shelves I saw toy mobile phones copied by their Chinese manufacturer from real life models. Old Sony Ericsson K750 without any identification was nestled against the pink Blackberry. The color was appropriate for Hello Kitty, but not for the darling of the corporate world. The absence of complete semblance will make some people smile, but it led to a chain of associations in my head.

Imagine a railway station in Zvenigorod or any other sleepy town near Moscow. The end of the platform is decorated with the newsstand. The dusty window hides Chinese toys. Unthinkable phones cost pennies and are purchased to occupy children on the train, but they are destined to be thrown away afterwards. These shops can be found around the country. A toy mobile cannot make calls and looks repulsive, but you can still guess what it is.

I remember how I missed lectures on child psychology and then tried to catch up by copying the notes of a perennial A student named Olya. To pass a test was just a breeze, when equipped with such notes. I read long into the night before the exam. I also had a couple of books I wanted to read. I still remember particular phrases. For example, Vygotsky, who was respectfully referred to by our teacher as Lev Semyonovich. I had a feeling that Vygotsky was still alive and studied together with our elderly teacher. Years after I learned that he died in 1934 from tuberculosis at the age of 38 at the beginning of his prime years as a scientist. He wrote extensively about children games. He believed that the game for children is an imaginary situation. Kids take a candybar and "call" their parents by saying "Hello" in a funny way. It is a part of growing up and it develops imagination as well. Before going to school toys are important as they give children information about the outside world, prepare for life and offer new skills. Those infamous Chinese phones are quite good for educational purposes.

I would like to ask young parents how often they gave real life mobile phones to their children to play. All my friends deny such sins individually, but when I put the heat on them they had to confess. The negative consequences are not based on the fact that mobile communications may be dangerous, as all parents believe. Surely any phone has many bacteria on its body as it is used all the time and babies try to taste everything.

But the main danger is the age restrictions and they exist for a reason. On toys you can read they are for children after 3 or from 5 to 7. Manufacturers do not do it for fun, because every age has its own skills and activities. New knowledge must be taken in gradually. A 3 year old can be taught to read, which usually makes parents proud and happy. Silly parents hastily deny their offspring the right to enjoy life. Everything is good in its season and it is pure harm to leapfrog particular skills and experience. Children have to play imaginary games followed by plays where they realize the social function of objects and communicate with other children or adults. That is why a child should play with a phonelike brick, then a toy phone followed by a real mobile in school years.

It is not a problem if you shrug off my lectures and forget about it. Phone is one of toys in kids' universe. There are toy laptops with special games and other symbols of adult life. Children master them preparing for growing up. The question is in appropriacy and timing. Think twice before giving a toy to your children. Until 3 they should not see any mobiles. You can buy a phonelike rattle produced by many companies. It usually looks like a rectangle with differently shaped buttons and a mirror. It will be enough. A toy phone is ok from 3 to 5. Parents are instrumental in explaining how to use the gadget. They act out episodes and explain the etiquette. Children play with adults here. They explain why we cannot call a horse, donkey or Mickey Mouse. You can call a witch like Baba Yaga, but it is not the best option. The first real phone should be given to a child when s/he goes to school. You and children decide.

Huge market of toys for children has a niche of toy mobiles. I mean toys, which look like real phones. They should be safe for children, made of good materials and use batteries without any special features. Imitation of adult life for games and education. The Chinese got a foothold in the market, but the phones manufacturers missed the boat. Can you imagine a father, who buys an identical toy mobile for his child? I can. In future the child could be familiar with the brand and be loyal to it. I mean the brand not the model as they change very quickly. Children preferences are difficult to get rid of. Not a single manufacturer does it at the moment. There is nothing unethical in this issue, because good toys are quite beneficial for children. They just do not see any short term profits, but I am sure this segment can be quite lucrative. May be not straight away, but it is a project for 15-20 years. If you are foresighted and believe in it.

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Inventing the Obvious. Caller's Name

Vacations are great when everyday worries retreat and make space in our heads for ideas, which seem obvious, but somehow have not been implemented before. Doubts creep in that the idea is brilliant, but I would prefer to share it with you and we will invent the bicycle together. It can even lead to separate articles and not a section of the Spillikins popping up from time to time.

During the day I receive dozens of phone calls from many people I know or have never heard about: an insurance agent, bank clerk, car mechanic, my friend's acquaintance who waters flowers while I am away, neighbor's housekeeper, journalists, analysts of investment funds and others. Today I had 47 calls. Half of the names were detected, but as to the rest I had to rack my brain and guess the callers.

I guess everybody will benefit if the phone receives not only the caller's number but some additional information as well (name, photo and status). I will understand straightaway who calls me and if I want to answer or not. This area will be especially rife with abuse when insurance agents will disguise as sexy ladies or celebrities, but it is the issue of time and standards to be put in place. The gain would outbalance all negative consequences. Definitely, the user should be left with an option to disable the reception of contact information and then nothing will change for you. The song will remain the same. Tell me, have I invented the bicycle and current standards already offer such options? While writing this piece I was haunted by an anecdote about one young poet who woke up in the morning with a poem of genius in his head. He was stunned and read it to his peers, but they were startled even more as it was a classical poem, which popped up in his head. This is not surprising. Disappoint me or make me happy! Is it already possible today? Would you be interested in this feature?

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Back to the Future: Forecast from 1910

Without the tweet from Staska of Unwiredview I would have missed the story. A certain Robert Sloss in 1910 wrote an essay entitled "Wireless Century". It was published in German the same year. A forecast for 100 years is usually an ungrateful thing, but is funny to read 100 years after. Usually I read and smile how whimsical was the mind of our predecessors. Here come battle tripods, people with dogs' heads and similar rubbish. But Sloss was a genius unless it is a later mystification. I will quote his essay, which was been referred to by many websites. Unfortunately, my copy of his book is still on its way from Amazon and it is a modern reprint, so I still have to find an original. Anyway, I could not hide this founding. The main points of the work are the following:

  • Serves as a telephone, the whole world over.
  •  Either rings or vibrates in your pocket.
  • Can transmit any musical recording or performance with perfect clarity.
  • Can allow people to send each other photographs, across the entire world.
  • Can allow people to see the images of paintings, museums, etc. in distant locales.
  •  No one will ever be alone again.
  • Can serve as a means of payment, connecting people to their bank accounts and enabling payments.
  • Can connect people to all newspapers, although Sloss predicted that people would prefer that the device read the paper aloud to them.
  • Can transmit documents to "thin tubes of ink," which will then print those documents in distant locales.
  • People will have a better sense of the poor, and of suffering, because they will have witnessed it through their device.
  •  People will vote using their devices and this will empower democracy.
  •  Judicial testimonies will be performed over such devices, often from great distances.
  • People will order perfectly-fitting fashions from Paris; this guy should be in the Apps business.
  • Married couples will be much closer, and distance relationships will be closer and better.
  • Military targeting and military orders will become extremely precise.

Forget about the idealistic view of descendants, which is a typical feature of all prophets, and you will get a correct image of the day and modern mobile phones. It is a good story and we just have to believe it is not a hoax. I have some doubts, but still believe this story, which gives hope that one of our contemporaries can provide a similarly accurate prediction of our future.

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Nokia "Touch and Type": Second Birth

Nokia said hundreds of times that S40 Touch will appear soon and these models were planned as an answer to Korean manufacturers, which dominate the touchscreen phones market. The development took a long time, but finally the first model of the series Nokia X3-02 was announced. I have already mentioned that it would be based on S40 6th Edition as from the outset all controls and fonts were large enough to be used for touch movements. I hoped that S40 would be a separate outlet of S40, when we will have models with touchscreens and without them. So far everything points to the defeat for models without touchscreens. Nokia labeled S40 6th Edition as the Feature Pack 1. It looks that all S40 models will have sensor support, even without the touchscreen option. This makes development cheaper, but can the end product offer high quality interface? Large fonts and controls make touchscreen models different from their more traditional counterparts.

Sadly, Nokia had all resources to enter the touchscreen market a year before the rest of the pack, but the company opted to refrain and confined itself to mere experiments. The same applied to sliders and clamshells in the past, which were easily surrendered to Samsung. The history repeated itself with touchscreen models. Samsung and LG dominate this market with more than a half of all available solutions. Nokia could not fight with smartphones alone. Entry level models were given S40 Touch (I got accustomed to this name and will stick to it in this article). Accessible phones with traditional S40 features will compete with Samsung, but Nokia decided to be different and invented the bicycle. The unique selling point will be a traditional keypad with a touchscreen. In the promotional video of the first model on S40 Touch we hear that the model is convenient to operate with one hand and the touchscreen makes many features easier to use. It reminded me of the Sony Ericsson idea from 2 years ago to offer mainstream smartphones with a keypad. G700 and G900 were centered on the same idea, but it did not work out. Consumers chose either a touchscreen or a keypad and the sales of both models were low. I personally expected better results. It could have been influenced by overall problems in SE, but the market rejected these models.

Nokia is going to make the same mistake. The stronger brand will give better sales, but who needs these models? New customers, who have never had a Nokia phone? Can it be their first touchscreen model? The answer is a resounding no. These handsets are aimed at loyal Nokia users, which is the first disappointment.

The second one is a total commitment to the markets of Asia and Africa. Its design is not European and X3-02 looks like a gadget from China. Tastes differ, of course. In terms of ergonomics Nokia designers made one weird decision and moved traditional fourth row buttons to the right. It is highly original, but not very convenient for those who already had a mobile phone. Do they aim at complete neophytes?

The downside of this solution is the absence of traditional joystick or navigation key. Now you have to select links on the screen, which is logical, but some people will scroll up and down this way after failing to find the equivalent (which is available) on the keypad. This is a new user experience and it is a bit controversial.

The absence of the virtual keypad is explained by a relatively small screen, but some buyers will treat it as a downside. It is quite logical to have such a keypad on a touchscreen model. In other words Touch and Type series is a middle of the road hybrid of traditional candybars and touchscreen models.

S40 Touch and the first model in the shape of X3-02 were greeted with mixed feelings. There was not enough of enthusiasm. Online feedback does not tell you the sales figures as here we have only one consumer group, but you can still get the overall sentiment. Success or failure of S40 Touch will be obvious during the first months of sales and will depend upon the reaction of ordinary buyers.

X3-02 will cost around И125 at the end of September on selected markets, including Russia. The model has not featured in Nokia price lists, and the end of September is too early for our market (it can still go on sale during this period for an exclusive partner or in company retail as was the case with Nokia N8). I do not think the model will enjoy popularity in Russia and overtake ordinary touchscreen phones, even Nokia ones.

The price of the first S40 Touch model is the highest for the series and other models will be cheaper and simpler. In И85-125 range many touchscreen models on S60 and S40 Touch will compete against each other. S40 Touch will not always come on top. This chaos in prices is connected with Nokia damping, because it was ousted by the rivals from the premium range, while in the entry level segment they compete with it on price.

We will wait for December and S40 Touch first sales figures. I am interested if this project becomes a success or one more transition phase. To crown it all watch this video about the model and its interface:

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Apple and Space Clips

Do you remember when Vertu unveiled Ascent and used Liquidmetal alloy for the first time. It is tougher and lighter than titan and looks nice. Apple made their move and purchased the intellectual property rights for the alloy. Its manufacturer was not successful on consumer electronics market and nobody used the alloy apart from Vertu. Nokia declined this opportunity, because the price of the alloy is not low. 8000 series successfully used stainless steel and Nokia did not bother about this more sophisticated alloy. Liquidmetal did not fare well and by 2010 the company's debts reached $11 million. The deal with Apple covered the debt, but we still do not know the full price of this transaction.

Future products from Apple will make extensive use of Liquidmetal in phones, players and tablet PCs. This alloy has been already tested in the clip from Apple to take the SIM card out. Are you not impressed? Just wait a bit. Apple PR machine will create such a stir around this material that managers of Nokia and other companies will have to answer one hundred times a day why don't they use LiquidMetal and will have to look for a substitute. It is clear that PR managers must prepare for the inevitable Apple attack.

Source: www.intomobile.com

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Nokia N9 is the Flagship on MeeGo

The Chinese are again the first to publish the pictures of an early Nokia N9 (RM-680) prototype. Silverlike metal body resembles MacBook Pro, which was aptly noticed by Engadget.

Source: engadget.com


Those who saw the gadget like its design akin to a larger variant of Nokia E7. It is the flagship of the Finnish manufacturer, which will hit the shelves on selected markets at the end of December 2010 or at the beginning of 2011. The price has not been determined yet, but if N8 costs И460-470 the flagship will fetch you И530 or more.

The model runs on MeeGo and again gets rid of Nokia legacy and recent development. This is a "mobile computer", so there are no hardware buttons to make or end a call. These keys are present on the screen, though. This is a blind copy of Apple iPhone trend, which is not convenient. If you treat the model as a follow up to Nokia N900, then it is a logical step forward. Decent computerlike OS with the minimum of phone developments. Nokia N900 story repeats itself Ц excellent hardware, good keypad but completely different user experience and the rejection of the past. And no software into the bargain. Nokia N9 is another attempt to start life anew. We will see how Nokia N9 fares against the rival flagships. We should not expect miracles as Nokia ran out of luck a year ago. It is time to work and not to wait for manna from heaven.

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HTC Branded Retail

HTC opens branded shops across Europe. One small shop opened in Moscow, but the big shop in Prague is definitely the flagship in the chain and will be copied in other places. I found some pictures on HTC Habr blog

A couple of photos to catch a glimpse of.

Extra reading:

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Spillikins #78. Solar Chargers from Suntrica in Summer

Spillikins #79. Blackberry and Spy Games around RIM

Spillikins #80. No more flagships of old

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 23 August 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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