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Spillikins #99. Happy New Year and Good Holidays!


  1. Happy New Year!
  2. Phone prototypes for throwing
  3. Vertu Quest Ц QWERTY with the premium
  4. Hybrid sensor Touch and Hype
  5. Microsoft plans Windows for tablets

New Year Eve is fast approaching and everybody is geared up with stocks of food to keep us going strong throughout the long holiday season. Some travel in distant countries, others are staying at home, but the right spirits are there. We don't treat any other holiday with similar trepidation and only the New Year's Day promises dramatic changes. We believe they will be to the better. I would like to congratulate you with this holiday and wish all dreams to come true. Never give up even in the most difficult of cases as there is always more than one solution. Let this coming year bring happiness and luck. We are very grateful to our loyal followers and are pleased to see the Mobile-Review family getting bigger every year. I hope you like what we do. Cheers!

I will take some more of your attention and mention several things to come in 2011. Our 100th issue will appear next year. For almost 2 years we have been publishing Spillikins every Monday no matter what happens to me or the world around. It is one of the most popular sections on our website and it is widely cited around the world by newspapers and websites alike. There will be no serious changed to the format of this weekly review full of significant events from the past 7 days. Our website will see many changes though. Several new sections (we call them series, because they are regular and have the same topic) will appear and the technical component will be boosted as well. Let's not hurry though. In the first part of 2011 all important things will take place at CES in Las Vegas with a bit of tasty news left for Barcelona. Starting from the beginning of January you will read our reviews from CES. Many new devices will feature attractive design and characteristics. We hope not to let you down and these materials will help you carry through holidays.

Looking back at the last week I cannot be but surprised by an array of events coming at the end of the year.

I will start with a Santa video targeting the US market. It is quite interesting and has some connection to our topic.

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Phone prototypes for throwing

The end of the year is not a happy period for everybody. We have already mentioned 1800 employees to be fired in Nokia Symbian division with 800 more to follow predominantly in Finland. More people will lose their jobs, but this is a story of 2011. For several months the local union tried to protect Nokia employees, but to no avail. The standoff led to a unique and unprecedented development. The researchers from a Nokia centre invited journalists to a special competition. Main events were throwing prototypes into boxes and distance throwing into snow. It is a smack in the face of top managers, who failed to negotiate successfully with their own employees. Can you remember anything similar in recent history? We cannot speak about any Nokia spirit after all that. The company was demoralized by latest setbacks and the arrival of new mangers representing another corporate culture just adds insult to injury. Throwing of Nokia phones during an ironic competition was not possible when the company was headed by a Finnish citizen. It is against the local culture, but when your enterprise is led by a foreigner who will surely destroy it sooner or later (which is the prevalent sentiment in Finland now), employees are free to protest this way. During this turmoil many obviously questioned the policy of laying off employees in Finland and not elsewhere. After all Nokia is a Finnish manufacturer.

We should not dramatize the situation, but the entire 2010 was a year of failure for Nokia. Not a single project managed to be a revelation and the company could not overcome its backwardness, while chaotic decisions didn't help much. The abovementioned story just adds a shade to the bigger picture. Nokia is too developed to disappear overnight, but it is heading fast in the wrong direction, which may ultimately cost its leadership position. It's a pity. In 2011 we will hear about firings in different departments. Interestingly, but Nokia partners who develop its services follow suit and make employees redundant as well. It will inevitably influence the speed of such development. For example, Yahoo has fired many people, which will slow down the work on OVI Mail/Chat. This throwing competition is a bright example of things happening in Nokia, which couldn't have been envisaged by the previous management.

You can watch the competition on in this video.

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Vertu Quest Ц QWERTY with the premium

6 months before the model was announced I had a chance to try its prototypes and shared my impressions, while disclosing its name. For example, it was mentioned in Spillikins #69 published in May of 2010. Now we even have first prototypes of a touchscreen Vertu. These early variants are far from reality. The problem of Vertu today lies in the fact that it is a subsidiary of Nokia. You cannot offer a cutting edge device built on outdated technologies, especially in terms of software.

I wonder why nobody reviews such models. The niche is obviously tiny and is represented merely by several scores of thousands items a year, but apart from actual owners there are many fans interested in these models. The latter may benefit from the related information. Similarly, sports cars are purchased by the rare few, while many read about them. Part of the answer is in reluctance of Vertu to give their models for analysis, which may reveal certain drawbacks, but they should not be present in handsets priced at И5000 and up.

The situation with Vertu Constellation Quest is the following. I could have written about it on the basis of preproduction samples, but I did not want to do the same work twice. I hoped that the construction of the keypad will be altered. Buttons of sapphire are cool, but a QWERTY model must provide easy text input first, while the material of buttons is not the most important issue here. Vertu believed that the expensive materials may excuse the inconvenience of use. May be those who pay И7000 for this model should change their impressions accordingly and view its ergonomics as great. I am not sure. The point is that by copying Nokia E71 Vertu offers horrible ergonomics of the keypad. There cannot be any considerable difference in the amount of power you use in a QWERTY model to push different buttons. Three first rows with lettered buttons are easy to use, but the lowest row (space, language change, symbols, full stop, coma and so on) is extremely tight. It is inconvenient to enter a text, as the lowest row resembles a piece of food stuck between the teeth. You come across it and get angry.

I like the exterior design of the handset represented by a brutal piece of metal. The build is decent, though some looseness is present. The back cover was changed to eliminate the issue available in Ayxta when the cover went flying. This time my sample slipped out several times, but the back cover remained in its place.

Apart from the hardware I always think why Vertu users need a S60 smartphone? Young people have different heroes now Ц iPhone 4 or Galaxy S and they would be happier to get additional games and new features, while the looks are not so important. As a rule people have two models: one for calls and the second for multimedia features. Ordinary Vertu handsets come to the fore Ц good ringtones, operation time and high price to emphasize the status. The rest is extra. Then Quest is a very particular solution to expand the product range. On one hand, Vertu has the right to come up with such toys in small quantities, but the sales will be worse than traditionally expected and the first shipments confirm this forecast.

In the review we will cover all features of the model in detail. It looks nice, but not convenient for text input, while inside we have an outdated OS, which should not be used in such an expensive handset. 2011 is different from 2009.

Owners of Nokia E72 may start crying, because Vertu uses a far superior screen with better resolution. Details to come in a separate article, but it indeed offers better picture and viewing angles.

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Hybrid sensor Touch and Hype

I cannot resist and call this Nokia range Touch and Hype instead of its original name. I don't' understand why you need a touchscreen with a hardware keypad, while the virtual one is absent. The main advantage of a touchscreen is in text input speed, but Nokia decided not to use it. I don't have a single clue here. We end up with a weird hybrid, which leads to nostalgia. I have stopped inputting long texts on a traditional keypad sometime ago. In QWERTY models it can be justified, though the speed goes down in comparison with touchscreen models anyway. In hybrid phones (X3-02, C3-01) the text input is very inconvenient.

Inside we have S40 6th Edition. Here I have even more questions. Why change the traditional order when the phonebook, notes and organizer have separate memory, which cannot be used to store any other information. This rule always worked for S40. In C3-01 I once forgot to insert a memory card and took some pictures alongside with one video. The phone started working very slowly during routine operations. When I entered a gallery I got a message that there was not enough of memory, which also made it impossible to synchronize with OVI. I had to delete certain files. As an experienced user I found a memory card and tried to copy files from the internal memory, but I was denied this option. Files can be sent via Bluetooth or e-mail, but you cannot copy them. May be I was blind, but I will be glad if somebody helps me to find this option in a gallery. I had to delete first pictures, which was not the end of the world, but stillЕ

Nokia increased the amount of dynamic memory by taking bits from apps and the reserved memory. I don't like the approach. Ordinary users will be definitely unhappy.

Another issue is the duplication of many operations. Both environments are involved when you have to select a menu item and then enter digits from the keypad. The ergonomics of this solution is questionable and the first market feedback confirms the lack of demand. The sales are really low.

Discussing the future of the model I suggested waiting until December and analyzing the sales. The month has almost come to an end. Sales are disappointing indeed and the market will not embrace these niche offerings from Nokia. Taking the price into account we can say there are many low-cost touchscreen models with virtual keypads and they are surely more attractive. Nokia is left with the sole outcome: make these handsets touchscreen only (including the text input) or discontinue them altogether. The choice is difficult. Route one will hasten the demise of Symbian, while Route 2 will destroy company's sales.

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Microsoft plans Windows for tablets

The market was agitated by a report from Bloomberg, which claimed that CES will be used to launch a tablet version of Windows, also available for devices with ARM processors. We don't know any technical details and Microsoft initially planned to adapt Windows 7 for tablets, but it didn't happen. Do you remember the project of HP Slate and Steve Ballmer who showed the prototypes in January 2010? The device could not compete with Apple iPad even before the launch and HP cancelled it. Sales of iPad confirmed that the market potential is huge and it is only the beginning. It is clear that Microsoft would like to get its own share of the pie, but it is still unclear what the OS is about. It should be similar to Windows 7, which is not bad.

I would like to remind you of another story. Do you remember why Intel started developing MeeGo? Microsoft declined to create Windows 7 version for Intel Atom, while Intel required the OS for their devices. Free MeeGo emerged, but its development was pretty slow. Microsoft solutions will decrease the popularity of MeeGo for many producers of netbooks and tablet PCs. It will be further enhanced by an ability of Microsoft to sell its products in packages with discounts for particular OS versions. Interests of different companies are so entangled in the segment, that we get a complete helter-skelter. It is interesting to see what Microsoft is going to unveil and how attractive this solution will be for its partners. Their decisions will influence the sales of future devices with different OS on board.

Happy New Year! Enjoy your holidays! Our articles will continue appearing on our website, albeit in lower quantities as we also need some rest. Take care!

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 #96. What Makes Indian Phone Manufacturers Popular

Spillikins #97. HTC on top of the world in 2011

Spillikins #98. Nokia holds negotiations with Microsoft about an alliance

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Olexandr Nikolaychuk (meiam@inbox.com)-->

Published — 27 december 2010

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



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