Symbian or MeeGo? What’s been wrong with Nokia and what should be done?


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Even after shaky start and complaints about reception issues (even admittance now), big figures from Apple were already a pinch, then rise of Android backed by today’s God Google, Bada from Samsung riding up on some really beautiful pieces like Galaxy-S, had really got us thinking, if Nokia and Symbian lost the battle of making a truly amazingly Advanced OS and attracting developers around. Many hopes are on next coming Symbian^3, MeeGo, Nokia N8 and Nokia N9, E7 etc .. but will Nokia really be able to match the needs this time?

The question I have asked in first para of this post, Ricky Cadden sure thought the answer in negative and decided to express disappointment with Nokia rather than Symbain itself. We should say that besides the bashing from Edlar when we weren’t expecting this (?). Symbian-Guru.com Is Over … that really has came up as a big blow to many of us, who strongly wish to stand on the side of Nokia. I am really left with thinking that …

Are late releases and escalated expectations over Symbian^3, MeeGo, Nokia N8, Nokia N9, E7 etc gonna be fatal for Nokia?


First of all, why there is this much frustration about Symbian and Nokia, when they seems to doing every best thing for consumers? Are you really given up over Nokia or wishing to bargain more?

Let me count a few  issues …

What’s been the biggest damage to Nokia and Symbian? N97?

Not only Symbian-Guru, but there will be thousands around, which will come up with only one name… Nokia N97 Classic. The most infamous part of Nokia legacy perhaps destroyed the years goodwill for Nokia and as much they tried to cover it up, things went worse and its getting worsen now due to only the fact that even today, Nokia N97 making the top of the shelf for Nokia. It might be harsh to say, but somewhere everyone of even Nokia fan now understand that each sold piece of Nokia N97 becoming a nail to coffin for Nokia-Symbian.

The much over priced phone (even now) was seriously underpowered and frustrated hell out of users. Consumers kept on crying for some firmware update to fix the issues, while Nokia’s probably worse understanding of RAM requirements, had already insured that it will never be repaired. 

If Nokia really survived the blow of Nokia N97, then it was Nokia N900… only that bring back the hopes that Nokia could do anything right. Nokia N900 still stands as the best resistive screen of whole planet and it does each and everything right… either it be experience, which was unbelievably natural out of the box, either it be integration with existing services like flicker, skype, Gtalk, Yahoo, MSN etc. or it be hardware design and support. Some think that best choice for Nokia was to exchange all Nokia N97 out there for Nokia N900 in free.


What’s kept developers disappointed with Nokia? Nokia knew that they been terribly late in touch phone segment (that’s being touted as Smartphone segment now days) and Symbian was only trying to adopt the touch, never seemed really built for the same. Some think that best choice would have been for Nokia, if they could have joined hands with Google (they couldn’t as both of them are of Giant and dominating nature) rather than joining hands with Intel, but that’s business and you can’t really blame them for that.

But what about Developers? Aren’t you making them nuts? For what they should program? Symbian? In a mid level language C/C++? Are you real? Symbian^3, Symbian^4, Maemo, MeeGo? Should they get back to college to learn all these?

I really can’t blame them much, Nokia probably got impression from Microsoft vs Apple Vs Linux that its hard to remove impression of something that you been grown up with. They thought if they leave Symbian from here, then they would be needed to start-a-fresh and the fight would be on turf of their opponents and they know that would not be something easy. To complicate things more, there been strong supporters for Symbian itself and legacy of Symbian was kind of unforgettable for even worst rivals, how could Nokia had think of leaving Symbian so easily?

If we talk about reasons, then Nokia was a manufacturer first and still they provide the best of hardware in best of price (leave alone Nokia N97 and Booklet 3G). They were making Good OS for non-touch phones (nothing could be more productive than a Nokia E72 or Nokia E52) and they were adding super excellent things like Ovi Maps and all. They were in a league of their own and been the best for “Phone” market and they are even now.

Then it came the competition with HTC and Apple, when they entered the market with touch phones and same time with RIM, when they grabbed Business with their QWERTY. Note that Nokia didn’t lead, they adopted and reacted. They reacted to RIM with their E-Series/ Nokia Messaging and to Apple with N97, 5800 and all… Like my Boss often said, proactive work make you win and reactive work will only keep you on toe. Nokia seems to be on toe.

You already doing a lot, releasing new handsets back to back, coping up with new technologies being introduced each day and entering new fields every next month, then it happens sometimes that you can’t come up with the tag of being best for everything you do. Nokia winning over RIM in many senses, but touch seems to be sloppy turf to them since start (Nokia N900 is exception) and Apple a hard contender than others.

Its not that Apple is doing great .. high figures of sold iPhone4 handsets involve mostly earlier iPhone3GS users, who are just upgrading their phones for a nominal cost from their provider, obviously in hope that it would get something better than earlier. They obviously have no other choice after living up with Apple till now. The part to worry about is, number of developers being attracted and number of apps being made for them.

Developers making apps for Apple are on smooth turf as even if thing evolve then they have to update themselves in minor ways like VB people evolved for VB .Net, more over, they have to keep only two or at most three devices in mind but with Nokia.. its been complicated due to its wide catalogue and rather tougher development with Symbian and now its seems to be a real nightmare after ‘debacle’ of Symbian.


Is Nokia not aware of this OS dilemma?”

Its not that Nokia has gone under panic completely and just trying out here and there. Its just…  not easy to leave the things which kept you on top over the years and even now. It was hard for them to realize that Symbian might be efficient, could be improved and polished well, but it wont be able lure developers due to its inherent difficulties in developing apps with it, specially due to a larger range of products people expect a Symbian App to support.

The announcement that Nokia N8 is last Symbian based N-Series had its strong reasons and indications, which if would have taken in right sense, then there were not that disappointment all around that someone would be needing to say that they lost hopes with Nokia. Why Nokia?? Your disappointment been with Symbian, isn’t it?

Symbian^3 was announced to be based upon Qt and reasons behind the same were to provide a smooth transfer of existing Symbian developers over Qt, which will be compatible with MeeGo and all…they engineered a brilliant hardware in superb cost (in fact a bit cheaper than they could have afforded), so that more and more people could be attracted to the same and so developers might have their reasons for developing on Symbian^3 due to popularity of N8. That was better to them in longer sense even if they get much lesser margin on Nokia N8 handsets. Later on Nokia N9 and E7 like devices were aligned to be launched with MeeGo, which will already be having as many apps as people might have developed for Nokia N8 already.

You can understand that a Smartphone with superb hardware is of no use till you don’t get developers from all the globe giving nights over developing apps for the same. It really frustrates when now days, we see every second big app saying its available for Android and iOS only (not symbian) take even basic WordPress app for example.

If Nokia haven’t sensed the disappointment about Symbian, then they were not doing it  this way that release Nokia N8 with Symbian^3, advertise it big, create sensations all around and then switch all other high end Smartphones over MeeGo all of sudden. They are not that big fools if you think of it in their shoes. Unfortunately, this was only way to do what we wanted them to do.


What frustrates? Why some of us thought that no hopes left?

Definitely many questions will be raised after closing of Symbian-Guru and World of Nokia as these two been staying on top for long and also were among the few fans in subsidized markets like UK/ USA. Closing of these two really shakes your faith that if really something left here with Nokia.

When someone releases and handles these many products as Nokia does, then you are bound to frustrate if starts making mistakes with even one or two. There is a rule that “Your two good things could be never heard, but one mistake will be known by whole world”. Same with Nokia.. but there are not just a few mistakes.. in fact kind of many..

Just for example, You got overwhelming response on Nokia N82 camera and performance of Nokia E72, but you never thought to make a device with a camera like N82 on E72 with Xenon of course.

I should say, we have seen best of Nokia in pieces. Their catalogue is full of efficient and effectively priced devices. Nothing on this planet could beat a E52 in T9 and same with Nokia E72 in QWERTY.. if you are giving up over Nokia, then either you haven’t seen these two devices or just wish to have fancy things rather than real.

Nokia N900 was something that was exactly the right thing to bet on and it is even now and will be even after release of Nokia N8, but that thing was never backed up by Nokia in the way, they foolishly kept on nailing themselves with promotions of Nokia N97.

N900 reached India by now with a price that would stand higher than upcoming Nokia N8 (without HDMI, without 12 MP, without Xenon, without Capacitive, without Bluetooth 3.0, without that sleek looks). Just thing like this frustrates and made us think if Nokia really understand what a consumer might want. 


Highly frustrating release schedules

No one in the world make as many handsets as Nokia make, but at the same time, no one make people wait for the right things as much long as Nokia does. Either it be N97 or N900 or N8, its always been the same story. We understand that its not Apple that you could keep on hiding something this much long, when your people inside are much excited about their new venture and accomplishments, but still it was better if the time difference announcement and release would have been at most 2 or 3 months.

I don’t accept the pressure due to a biased review, because its the same story with C3, C6 and E5 as well. We are still waiting for an E5 even if they aren’t from some another planet. They are made of just a bit polished things and for no reasons need to be kept away for this much long.

Moreover, what are you trying to achieve by confusing people? India gets an N900 when Nokia N8 around the corner in less price, then it will possibly Nokia N9 with MeeGo, 4” screen and HW keypad (already stunned us by design, check the video)

 

Now, you tell yourself that what one should buy? Its not a soap that you have to wash away in weeks, its hard earned money and though its true like chicks that there would always one more beautiful around, Nokia could have managed a better time schedule about their devices.

Somewhere I think Nokia being let down by its developers as Hardware of every Nokia either N8 or N9 or E7 seems to be right and perfectly in place, but wait is for developers and developers. Does this really take that long even after years of experience with hundreds of devices and many fan blogs showering opinions on good and bad?


What Nokia still holds as their best?

  1. Best of Hardware: Being technology leader since long, Nokia keeps the advantage of technology for best of the signals, best of the battery and best of the camera.
  2. Best of experience to fit things into pocket of common man: Probably this been their biggest asset and biggest loosing side. Except N97, they never tried hard over big bucks and always kept their prices reasonable. They didn’t made products for people having big money and bashing from top over things that didn’t matter for common man, Layman.
  3. Wide range of products: Either its be cellfone or smartphones, Nokia been synonym for them. Whatever your needs might been, you always looked for one name and it rarely disappointed.
  4. Best of PR: Perhaps even after long trust over Nokia devices, I wasn’t into that much writing over Nokia products, if Womworld/Nokia wasn’t here. They know to engage people, they know to interact, they know to adopt and they know to serve what people ask for. But they do it for mass, not for self acclaimed people asking for things for sake of a cream breed.

What could bring Nokia back again?

The biggest and most important question… and no one could answer exactly …. we just could give our views. Whatever others might be saying, but Nokia seems to be right on path now with N8 and later aligned sets like N9, C7 and E7, but they seriously needs the positive waves from our sides.

  1. The confidence of developers: They seriously need the confidence of developers back and needs to assure them that the market share of Nokia will be unrivaled.
  2. Disciplined releases even if few: Many times some of Nokia device just don’t make any sense like last two designs we seen with Nokia C7 probably and that X5 competing Samsung Corby in looks. I don’t even that much favor devices like X6.. they could have done better. And please either deliver products in short time or don’t let them out in wild for making videos of them.
  3. Choose a proper shape for a series: If designs of Nokia N8 and Nokia N9 are some patterns, then this makes a lot sense. Trying too many designs doesn’t show that you are catering all kind of audiences, but it shows that you lack in confidence to sweep people’s opinion your way. It would be great, if resemblance of Nokia N8 and Nokia N9 may really establish a pattern and I wont mind, if they keep the same looks for all touch devices. Nothing bulkier like X6 please.

Sure, there are personal views and could be added with your comments and conversations as even we don’t exactly know that what would be best for larger audience with contrast tastes.

Thinking to close the post here, but I really want Nokia to surprise us by releasing Nokia N8 with a Keypad variant on the same day .. may be that could make up for the delay and could save people like me from being frustrated.

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Author: Nitish Kumar

I love to write and raising voice, sharing thought and heated debate is a kind of passion for me. Jobwise I am just another Computer professional handling Infra and designing solutions for a big Indian Media house but I love to write, sketch, photography and a lot more.

30 thoughts on “Symbian or MeeGo? What’s been wrong with Nokia and what should be done?”

  1. Nice balanced post !
    I am also of opinion that Nokia is being slammed to much!
    Correctly said about what Nokia has best, guys who slam Nokia forget that they make phones for everyone, and price them right. Just see how N8 is half the cost of Iphone. Infact last year apart from huge failure of N97 , only N900 was real high end device.

    I think more people should read your post and comment here rather than just sensational “end of days” posts.

    1. Thanks Sid,
      One day without comment really got me thinking that if I am alone with the same view. Thanks for joining.

      Its just not this that its cheaper, but Nokia ruled and still ruling Non-Touch phone markets. They are with many of the best things and want to do more and more better by involving community in decisions. If they will feel discouraged at this moments, then .. it will be a huge failure. Their things still work for us…. we want them to be bash the competitors as we know that they easily could do… just that…..

      You might be best in our era, but when you have to beat someone then you have to beat them on their territory. Nokia has to beat iOS and Android.

      All the frustration is not for the failure, but for the reason that they should have been on top with the kind of hardware and package they sell..

  2. very well written and one of the most unbiased article about nokia . agreed with all your points , specially that N900 should be promoted heavily to offset N97’s damage.

  3. Nokia failed to promote N900 they thought it was a geek phone many of my friends loved its UI. And seriously zero developer support for symbian that hurts they charge 500Euro for signing app and for OVI they charge 50Euros does Nokia think all developers are from big companies ? And regarding N97 it was the best looking phone for me and it have a lot of crap inside N95 specs with N97 would have rocked the world……..

    1. Siraj,
      You should write a post about these charging issues comparing all other platforms. That could be a stone in river to cause a little stir. May be things get a push.

      As about Nokia N900, perhaps Nokia left it in hands of Maemo Community who didn’t happened to big enough to scale it larger. No Java support crippled it more bad.

  4. Great post, and agree, with many of your points. The N900 however was never really intended for the mass market, and was marketed to suit, however because of the market being what it is, and people looking to Nokia for the next Gen device to suit the poweruser, the N900 ticked many people boxes when it come to what they were looking for in a device.

    Yes, I know all too well about the N97 flagship, and know Nokia were, or should I say are, very much ashamed of the device, I wish to forget about it, but its still an device which is to be experienced by more, and more users now the price point is coming down, and being more affordable to more people, globally.

    Nokia need to listen more, and deliver what people want, eye candy is key. Ok, I know not everyone will agree, but eye candy can be so much more than a fancy UI, it can tell the user than the device is doing something when its told to do something rather than simply presenting the end user with a blank, lack of transitions infrastructure.

    People want their device to be kind of alive, and be interactive with the user, being part of the user as it were. We all know this is possible, and not out of Nokia’s reach.

    Take for example, the front facing VGA camera on Nokia devices. This was somehting that was tested long before it actually showed up on a Nokia device, being tested internally for a long time.

    I feel its time for new blood in Nokia, and with that, someone to help Nokia decide what is ready for primetime, and what is not. Someone who has experience with many platforms, and OS’s. I’m working on this, and will be helping Nokia as much as I can, unpaid, and not directly employed by Nokia. Nokia if you are reading this, yes, Im available, give me a chance to help you shape your future top/high end smartphones. I have my finger on the pulse, and as you know has done more than enough testing of devices, Nokia applications, software, and services. You have my number, and you know how to email me.

    Thats my 2cent.

    1. Its very very wonderful to have your thoughts here Micky. I am amazed.

      I should say that even if Nokia N900 wasn’t meant to mass market, it should have been. Maemo could have been a great platform. I always wondered that if they got that much responsive UI with 600 MHz and resistive screen, then one could only imagine potential.

      As about Eye Candy thing, then to some extent I agree, to some extent, I am not. Efficiency must be key, but its true that normal people don’t see that. Here I love Microsoft for that.. they got a balance about Eye Candy and Performance (at least till Windows XP).

      True about VGA Camera, and I still wondering that if they were planning to come up with Led Flash on front side as well, then what kept them not doing it in Nokia N8. https://nitishkumar.net/2010/07/04/laymans-take-on-possibly-nokia-n9/

  5. Of course, internal spec should indeed be way ahead of the competition too, that I didn’t really make clear in my last reply. Nokia need to source the very latest cutting edge hardware, cpu, ram, gpu, and of course, camera sensor.

    Nokia need to do what they are capable of, and not be so bloody modest, and let the competition walk all over them. From what I have heard, and seen from my visit to Nokia House, and Nokia World, I know that they are far more capable than they let on, so now is the time for them to come out with all guns blazing.

    1. Problem is that even I don’t like 30k+ devices. People ask for more, but don’t pay. Who pays for a Smartphone??

      Apple makes for a subsidized market and always will, while Nokia cater bigger .. much much bigger.. unlocked.. they are bound to hold them. But yes!!. you need to kill the competition with all guns blazing by keeping at least one of top.. the real Flagship

  6. Hi,

    Nice article. I also believe that symbian is great, but nokia kill it with doggy hardware. I even thought that some of their designer could be considered sabotaging the product.

    i.e. how can E72 have 600MHz ARM 11 processor, and N97 only have a 434MHz ARM 11 processor. This doesn’t make sense at all. Why their N97 didn’t use 600MHz or even faster processor?

    RAM of N97 and NAND-flash is also a clue that nokia is too cheap with the hardware specs.

    With their new series alignment (N = X+E+C) I was hoping that nokia would make a killer devices. Something like the QWERTY based N8… BUT…. with Carl Zeis. Excel/Word/PowerPoint/Adobe reader too.

    By the way,
    I’ve been using nokia since Nokia 3650, then Nokia 6600, then Nokia E61i. Almost bought the E70, but I hate the miniSD, and wait for E70 with microSD. Almost bought E72 too, but wait for ??E80??, or E series with nHD.

    Nokia really send a confusing signal to their loyal user.

    1. cycnus,

      Agree at points, but issue is Nokia cater the broader market than Apple or even Android that is NOT SUBSIDIZED. They will disappoint their many fans, if they make a device worth 35k or 40k like iPhone 4. Probably that’s always been their dilemma.

      Even then what they pack in their prices, always been the best except N97 Classic and that’s why it’s bringing criticism their way.

      Also one should note that all the cry is mostly from US/UK side subsidized market bloggers and as they make most of the internet blogsphere, it multiplies faster

  7. An interesting and well written post but I have to take issue with one statement you made. That even a basic WordPress application isn’t available for Symbian. It is available as it also is for Maemo.

  8. Hello,

    came across this post and it was one of the most comprehensive views on nokia in INDIA..

    I basically went in search of n n900 fa three hrs in bangalore and din find it anywhere, either it was out of stock or was not shipped yet.

    after having used 4 nokia phones till date..the best being n95-8gb,now i’m seriously skeptical as to whether the 900 is worth it.haven been able to make up my mind at all..

    though a semi geek and with no experience in developing wonder how ll b able to make the right choice..

    PS:had the n97 one of the worst phones ever..still a nokia loyalist..:)

      1. Bro…jus cun resist the temptation but raced away nd got it off today…:):):):)
        though it was a bandh found a concept store and had to satisfy myself..:):)
        initially..mind boggling speed and multitasking…
        though still gettin a hang of it..
        Thanks a lot fa a propmpt reply…:):):)

  9. well written piece….

    There are a lot of things which I’ve stated earlier in many of my own rants.

    I agree with Micky… the N900 was never meant to be mass market. I guess Nokia wasn’t quite sure of how it was going to be received.

    As for helping Micky… it’s something they need to realize for themselves that we bloggers have a good feel of the pulse and we can and we want to help.

    1. I guess they realize it thats why many programs for developers are here. Just materializing all the inputs when you are running for a bigger market like Asia etc… not that easy job

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