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CTIA 2010. Nokia

One major announcement from Nokia at the show was the release of Nokia 5230 Nuron with T-Mobile. The phone is not particularly new or particularly good, but for the US market a touchscreen smartphone from a known brand and with free navigation for $70 is a great deal, if T-Mobile and Nokia will advertise it right it could sell in good numbers. Of course, this is the price with a 2 year contract, without a contract the phone is $180 retail, but this is not bad either. 5230 brings the total number of various Nokia phones available through T-Mobile to 5 and a total number of Nokia phones available through all the US majors to 12. Importantly, now T-Mobile will be selling Nokia apps in its version of Ovi Store, sharing profit with Nokia. Considering the time, effort and money it took to customize the Ovi Store to T-Mobile requirements, unless Nuron will be a complete failure there will be other Nokia Symbian based devises coming to the carrier for sure, a major victory for the company

At CTIA Nokia was actively promoting its Ovi services. The just born Ovi Music, Ovi Store, Ovi Maps, Ovi Mail, Ovi This, Ovi That they all were there. While I fully support the concept of services, especially when these services are free, somehow I do not see them as Nokias strongest suit. The way I see it, as of today the result is pretty lukewarm, especially comparing with the performance of some competitors, Google in particular. At the same time, the major effort in new for the company field, in my opinion resulted into resources taken away from what always was Nokias strength its devices. We now see phones made from cheap materials, looking alike, different models that add a function, take a function are the same, buggy, outdated and annoying OS (Symbian 5 in particular), very strange marketing efforts and product planning resulting company being the last of the major manufacturers releasing a touchscreen device or in N97 and N97 Mini following each other in a few month, etc. The famous Nokia quality or rather the perception of solidly build, quality products is not there anymore; the way the plastic comes alive when squeezed, listening to all the sounds the bodies of many of the current Nokia phones are making with your eyes closed, youd swear you have some cheap Chinese phone in your hand. Im not sure the best possible implementation of software will make up for it, but for now the company manages to get away with it with a pretty stable market share in the last couple of years. As they say, first you earn the reputation and then it works for you. It looks like Nokia is in the second stage right now; the question is how long it will last.

And talking of the handsets, particularly old handsets, the company did display some of them at the show. There they were - 7650, 1100, 9000 The idea was not only to remind of the glorious past, but to celebrate 25 years of Nokias CTIA participation. That is in 1985, way before any of us got hands on any cell phone, Nokia was already exhibiting at CTIA. What it was exhibiting I dont know (tires?), but this is a secondary question.

To celebrate this anniversary Nokia did two things: first, it announced a competition, challenging N900 users to write an unusual app for their phones within 2 weeks. The three top places were flown to CTIA where their results were displayed. The third place went to toy car race track controlled via Bluetooth. The second place app allowed sending commands to two robots via text messages and seeing them fight. In the first place was the app that turned N900 into a sports computer for biking you can see the speed, calories burnt, etc. The winner got a Nokia phone and a Blue Ribbon.

Then, after the congratulatory speeches by Mark Louison, the President of Nokia USA and by Steven Largent (who shows the size of the first Nokia phone he saw, I think), the President of CTIA, a great looking and tasting cake (once in 25 years itd better taste good!) was cut and shared among present Nokia employees and members of the press corp. We congratulate Nokia and CTIA and wish to be present when they cut the next cake at 50 years. The cake was worth the wait.

Michael Savuskan (msav@mobile-review.com)

Published — 28 March 2010

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