Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time of competition - a peaceful summer?

Summer is hot, silent and peaceful in Hungary. I can just sit back and watch/read what's happening around the world. And in mobile space, of course.

Well, it's not that silent as I expected. In the past few days I have noticed new signs of a tough competition between mobile- and consumer electronics device manufacturers, internet service providers, mobile operating systems. Let me go into the details!

Although Nokia is clearly a market leader, they have to listen carefully to users' demand. On smartphone market, for example, there's a new challenger who demands everyone's attention. There's been a lot of discussion over whether iPhone is a smartphone or not, but that's not my point now. They clearly showed people how easy to use a user interface (UI) can be (I also happen to know how an iPhone blends, but that's a different topic:). However, the UI is not everything: there must be great (and well-implemented) features in the phone, too. You know, just in order to make a phone smart - if that's Apple's intention at all. It's not obvious as the mass market (=biggest revenue) of mobile phones is NOT smartphones.

These times everyone is trying to imitate iPhone's behavior on their phone; even one of my friends has put a new "iPhone shell" on his Windows CE phone - just for the feeling's sake. :)
Other people, on the other hand, wonder if iPhone is really selling at the same pace how Apple claims to be. You know, it's just one thing, they say, how many phones Apple and AT&T could sell so far (not to mention how many have actually been activated), it's just the hype that keeps selling at this level. Sooner or later, however, everything (and everybody) will calm down and we'll see how successful Apple is. Let's see!

Another company is also trying to expand into this new area - at least new to them. It's been announced several days ago that Google invested in cellular technology. No surprise, we already knew they're interested in this technology area (i.e. mobile), too. What might be a sign of a new aggressive campaign is that Google makes the conditions to FCC for a wireless spectrum auction. You know, I pretty much sympathize with Google in this case and hope that not only will the rules change (free download of any applications, services or content), but the list of operators will be refreshed, too.

By the way, Russell Beattie is back. In case his name doesn't sound familiar to you, he's an American blogger (one of my favorites) from the Silicon Valley full of great ideas. This time he shared his opinion with us how he sees the future of Nokia S60 UI. He's not alone with the vision that Nokia will change to Linux from Symbian, what he adds, though, is that he expects (or rather suggests) Nokia to revolutionize their UI, too. Neither would be an easy change just a side-note.
On the Linux issue, it's been already told that royalty-free doesn't mean entirely free at all. There must be (lots of) people who customize Linux to the needs of manufacturers, operators, follow market demands, adds features to Linux that have never been implemented since Linux originally has not been a mobile OS. The interest of all the possible players is very fractioned, there're already several interest groups who are doing their own design, following their own desires, etc.
On the other hand, there're lots of things Symbian (Nokia, UIQ, etc.) could learn from Linux, especially from their developer community. For example, I'm not sure if you've heard about the service outage of Symbian Signed that happened recently. For example, one of my fellow Forum Nokia Champions, Antony Pranata, was in trouble due to this. There are other people, too, who are not too happy with the current situation and think Nokia and Symbian could make it better.
Finally, as to the UI revolution: I'm pretty sure that everybody at Nokia has already drawn the conclusion from iPhone's success. I bet they've even already started to design the new approach of a touch-based model from Nokia. I'm really looking forward to it. And finally, a side-note to Russell: not as if it was a trivial step for Nokia to get rid of their "old" UI design in a jiffy. The UI (believe it or not:) is one of the core features people love the most in their Nokia phone. They might interpret a radical change in the user interface in a way that would make Nokia, khmm, unhappy.

That's it for now, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!



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Anonymous said...

One opinion about the iPhone:

Gábor Török said...

Interesting. Based on the tone of the post I'm not 100% sure that it's the most objective piece I've ever read :), but never mind. I just wish the guys could have taken the effort to check that copy-paste feature does exist on E70. It has existed from the very beginning still back to the first smartphone, Nokia 7650.