Archive for the ‘Nokia’ tag
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a Finish mobile company was working on a ground-breaking game-changing world-shaking new smartphone operating system based on Linux rising from the ashes of Intel’s Moblin and its own Maemo projects.
That lasted a few months, at least.
Nokia and Intel had decided in 2010 that they needed an answer to Apple’s iPhone juggernaut which was taking high-end smartphone sales away from Helsinki and making it completely obvious that the king of chips had no chips in the mobile processor poker game. Meego was the answer, and Meego would be the operating system that would lead the then-still-powerful Nokia back to the forefront of the mobile market, and would make Intel relevant in small, low-powered, and battery-life-efficient phone CPUs.
Unfortunately, one loser plus another loser often just equals two losers. And, unfortunately for Nokia and Intel, Google and Samsung took their lunch and ate it, too, as Android began to reign uber alles. So Nokia turned to Microsoft for salvation — and a very painful process it has been — and Meego lost its way.
But not entirely.
Jolla, a new and independent smartphone vendor which almost no-one but mobile wonks has ever heard of, took the core of Meego and built Sailfish, a new mobile operating system that is built on an open-source project named Mer that is the new incarnation of Meego, and is just now teasing the coming-soon release of its very first device, the oddly named and oddly designed but also oddly attractive “The Other Half.”
Surprise, surprise, Jolla is based in Helsinki, Finland, where there just happens to be a surplus of top-notch mobile talent available lately (shocking, isn’t it). And surprise, surprise, all of the top Jolla leaders are ex-Nokia employees. Almost two years ago, Jolla announced its intentions of bringing a new smartphone to market. The biggest surprise is that they seem to be succeeding.
We are Jolla. We are Unlike
Jolla appears to be a two-part device, consisting of a 4.5-inch screen, a buttonless main phone handset, and various colorful plastic cases, or “other halves.”
Snap one on, and your phone OS changes.
Changes color, changes battery life, perhaps, changes content such as apps and media, and changes in other ways yet to be invented, based on the creativity of Jolla and partners.
Actual devices have yet to be released, and the details are fewer than might be desired, but the key point is that the Jolla is Android app compatible. Which, frankly, is probably essential for any new smartphone platform entering the market today. The smartphone market is an ecosystem battle, not a device battle primarily, and any new entrants with any real aspirations for success have to plug into what is already available and — largely — a global standard.
Interestingly, the main Sailfish operating system screen appears to draw from Windows Phone design elements, with titles on the home screen that aggregate information that you might be interested in.
According to Engadget, the phone will have a dual-core processor (type unknown), LTE, an 8MP rear camera and a front-facing camera, and have 16GB onboard storage plus micro-SD expansion.
At the very least, it’s an interesting take on mobile that enables users to participate in some — if not all — of the benefits of the world’s leading smartphone operating system, while still having some unique and differentiating factors. Jolla says it will offer the world’s best multitasking experience, and will be so intuitive that you can operate your favorite features “without even looking at the device.”
Main navigation on the phone is buttonless, with the four main icons appearing to be Phone, Messages, Browser, and Apps. The Sailfish operating system will also support gesture control, the company said.
I’m assuming that full Google integration and access to Google services such as music would not be included, and syncing contacts and other core data would not be as simple as on a straight Android phone.
However, Jolla seems to be competing on differentiation. And while the jury will be out on how successfully they’ve achieved it until we have actual devices in our hands, at first glance, they’ve succeeded.
Image credits: Jolla
Nokia’s Smart Devices Chief On Instagram, Android, Phablets & The Continued Lack Of A 41MP PureView Lumia
Nokia has added another device to its burgeoning Lumia portfolio of smartphones today, with the introduction of the Lumia 925: a sleek, PureView-branded handset that will be its first flagship on T-Mobile U.S. At today’s London launch, Nokia executive VP of smart devices, Jo Harlow, sat down with TechCrunch to field a few questions.
TC: Despite all the focus on your camera technologies with the flagship Lumia devices, Windows Phone still lacks Instagram. How much of a blocker is that, what are you doing to get round it and why is it proving so difficult to get this app?
Harlow: Obviously our goal is to brings great apps to the Windows Phone platform. We have a huge amount of respect for Instagram and we continue to work in that direction and in particular with Microsoft, and with apps like Hipstamatic and the ability to share your pictures on Instagram. But the importance of Hipstamatic isn’t Instagram really — it is the great capabilities that Hipstamatic brings and the community that Oggl represents because they’re a community of people who love photography. And so I think in inspiring that world of consumers then that brings attration from others as well.
I would characterise the competition in Android as more of a spec race than anything else… it’s open but that doesn’t make you first.
We worked very closely with Hipstamatic and shared our portfolio with them, we’ve shared our imaging APIs with them, and that’s where we’d like to work with the developers who can bring even more greate experience to our imaging story.
TC: Are you going to be helping to usher in more new camera apps like Oggl or make more of your own new imaging apps?
Harlow: The first thing we’ve done is make our imaging APIs accessible to developers — whether they’re developing imaging specific apps or in other ways could use the camera in their app — that they could get all the way to the performance of the camera itself. If you look at what’s happened with photography with mobile devices and just how we use pictures you see that what is today is unlikely to be just what is in the future. It’s constantly evolving — now hundreds of millions of pictures are uploaded every day just to social networks. Yes there are imaging specific apps, and there will be more imaging specific apps and communities in the future, but all communities have a deep relationship with pictures because that’s part of the social fabric of our lives these days. And I dont think that changes, that only gets bigger and bigger.
TC: Is the original 808 PureView 41MP technology a bit of a unicorn now with the Lumias? Or are you working toward it with each iteration of the devices? Or is this something that you think you might never have because you’re going for thinner devices?
Harlow: I can’t comment about our portfolio coming in the future, but what I will say about the PureView technology that we developed that uses a 41MP sensor is that it delivers a consumer experience in terms of zooming after you’ve taken the photo. That is a phenomenal experience. That’s something that we think is very interesting to continue to pursue.
TC: So you’re not ruling it out?
Harlow: I’m not ruling it out.
TC: You talk about how you have been able to differentiate on Windows Phone — with hardware design, camera technology and so on — but why couldn’t you have done that on the Android platform? The reality is that Android is dominant, and Windows Phone is very far behind.
Harlow: The dominance of Android is led by Samsung. I think you can see the difficulty that others have in standing out from Samsung even when they have really good devices. I think first of all it comes down to partnership and the partnership that we’ve had with Microsoft in terms of bringing new experiences to the platform as well as our own differentiating experiences. We did not believe we could have that level of partnership with Android — and that’s a key difference.
TC: But Android is open. You can do what you want…
Harlow: To a certain degree yes. But I think I would characterise the competition in Android as more of a spec race than anything else and so there is one partner who is the development partner for any new release of Android and everyone else come some time later, so it’s open but that doesn’t make you first and that doesn’t make you necessarily the most competitive.
TC: I know you can’t comment on future roadmap, but what could Nokia bring to a phablet device, i.e. a larger form factor smartphone, if it decided to play in that space?
Harlow: I think the word is ‘experiences’ because as we are investing in great experiences on our smartphone range it’s logical to think that those experiences we would look to take into other types of form factors and make them compatible with each other. Obviously what we would want in any portfolio is that there’s some consistency in the experience that consumers have of a Nokia product.
AT&T customers who took the plunge on Nokia’s Lumia 900 have had to sit idly by and watch Windows Phone 8 supercede the software loaded on their own devices, but they’ll soon be able to experience at least part of what WP8 brings to the table. Nokia announced earlier today via Twitter that the Windows Phone 7.8 update is now available to owners of the one-time AT&T flagship.
Better late then never, as they say.
In case you haven’t been keeping track (after all, that’s what I’m here for), Nokia began the process of bringing Windows Phone 7.8 to the Lumia-owning masses back in February. All that’s really changing here is that the Lumia 900 will get a minor facelift — think (among other things) the inclusion of Windows Phone 8′s oft-updating Live Tiles, improved lock screen security, and the ability to share internet connections. Sadly, since the update is mostly cosmetic, Lumia 900 owners looking to fiddle with some of the new Windows Phone 8-optimized apps that Microsoft and its developer partners have been touting lately will have to wait until they splurge on some new hardware first.
If we’re being honest, those Lumia 900 owners have had their share of issues to deal with — not only were they stuck with a device that could never be updated to Windows Phone 8, early production runs yielded Lumia 900s that just couldn’t consistently latch onto a wireless data connection, prompting Nokia to push out a software fix and offer a credit for affected consumers.
I suspect that a decent chunk of 900 owners will just be glad that the update is finally out there, but their eyes may soon be drawn to an even newer batch of Windows-powered handsets shortly — Nokia is reportedly preparing to show off some new Lumias at a London event in less than a week.
Nokia’s newly-appointed general manager of China, Erik Bertman, has plenty of experience in emerging markets, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to reverse the Finnish company’s rapid loss of market share in the world’s largest smartphone market.
Bertman will takeover the position on June 1. He succeeds Gustavo Eichelmann, who is leaving Nokia and returning to the U.K. for personal reasons, according to the company. In a statement, Nokia said Bertman was appointed to lead operations in China because “he has achieved good results in a number of important markets” and has experience leading cross-cultural teams.
Originally from Sweden, Bertman previously served as the regional lead of Nokia Russia, where he oversaw sales and marketing. His experience with the company also includes a stint as financial officer in the sub-Saharan Africa region. Bertman arrived in China in 2009.
Despite his experience in emerging markets, Bertman has a lot of work to do if he wants to turn around Nokia’s fortunes in China. The company’s market share in that country underwent a dramatic decline in 2012 as it failed to weather competition from Samsung.
The Finnish company slipped to number seven in overall sales in 2012, with 3.7 percent market share, compared to the 29.9 percent chunk it held in 2011, according to Strategy Analytics. It’s rapid descent was mirrored by Samsung’s quick rise to the top–the Korean tech giant nearly tripled its China sales in 2012, selling 30.06 million smartphones, up from 10.9 million handsets a year earlier. Samsung now holds a 17.7 percent market share in China.
Furthermore, Nokia has had three people leading its China operations in as many years: Deng Yuan-yun, Liang Yu-mei and Eichelmann. The position’s rotating door may be a sign that the company is unsure of its strategy in that region.
A turnaround in emerging markets is crucial for Nokia’s survival because North America has been the company’s weakest market for sometime. Last month, Nokia reported $334 million in sales in Greater China, down 56 percent from a year ago, a figure that puts it just above North America in terms of market size for the company.
Nokia’s dramatic decline in China comes despite its efforts to hold on to its former dominance in the market with low-cost the launch of the Nokia Lumia 800C in March 2012. The device was the first CDMA Windows Phone in the country, but it failed to gain enough traction to compete against inexpensive Android handsets.
Nokia Puts WhatsApp Hard Key On $72 Asha 210 For Asia, Africa; Qwerty S40 Handset Gets Facebook Button In Europe, Latam
Nokia has announced another handset in its Series 40-based Asha portfolio of low end mobiles which compete with the budget end of Android and cheap BlackBerrys. The 2G-plus-Wi-Fi Asha 210, due to ship before the end of Q2, packs a physical Qwerty keyboard and comes painted in Nokia’s now trademark eye-popping colours (yellow, cyan, magenta), plus black and white. But the most notable addition to this BlackBerry-esque device is a hardware key on the front that short-cuts to messaging app WhatsApp — which, extending the BlackBerry comparison, is the phone’s BBM replacement.
As well as the ability to fire up WhatsApp by long pressing on this dedicated key, Nokia said Asha 210 buyers will get a free subscription to the messaging service for the lifetime of the device. On the Series 40 platform, WhatsApp normally charges a $0.99 annual fee after a first year of free use. Last week the messaging service said it now has north of 200 million monthly active users (this compares to BBM’s more modest 60 million). Tapping into the hugely popular social messaging craze is clearly Nokia’s aim here.
Nokia describes the Asha 210′s WhatsApp hardware key as a “world first”, although we’ve seen the mobile maker (and others) stick a Facebook button on a phone before. But before you start wondering how displeased Facebook is going to be with Nokia for two-timing it with a deadly messaging rival, the handset actually comes in two social messaging flavours, with a second variant having a dedicated Facebook key (shown below, on the black handset) instead of a WhatsApp button.
The two Asha 210 social flavours — which also each come in single SIM/dual SIM variants – won’t be offered together in the same market but will rather be region specific, presumably corresponding to where the respective services are most popular. Neil Broadley, marketing director for Nokia’s mobile phones division, told TechCrunch the WhatsApp device will generally target Asia-Pac and Middle East & Africa, while the Facebook flavour will mostly be heading to Europe and Latin America. He also confirmed that neither device will be sold in North American.
Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world.
“On a market by market basis we will have either WhatsApp or Facebook,” said Broadley. “Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world and as we go on a market by market basis, some of our market teams would like to have the WhatsApp variant, some would like to have the Facebook variant. And of course we already have the Nokia Asha 205 on a global basis with the Facebook hard key there as well.”
Broadley added that Nokia is looking at the possibility of making a third variant of the Asha 210 — specifically targeting the Chinese market — with another, as yet undetermined social service loaded on the hard key (China has a variety of homegrown social services that outstrip the popularity of global offerings, such as microblogging service Sina Weibo vs Twitter). Nokia certainly has work to do to win back buyers in China. In its Q1 results last week, China saw the biggest drop of any of Nokia’s regions in terms of sales by value and volume, with $334 million in sales in Greater China, down 56% on the year ago quarter.
Low end hardware + social software
Aside from differing social shortcuts, the Asha 210 variants have identical hardware and software, with a sub-1Ghz chip; 2 megapixel rear camera plus a dedicated camera key on the front of the device (in addition to the WhatsApp/Facebook key plus standard nav/call keys); Nokia’s Slam Bluetooth-sharing data transfer tech and its hot-swap SIM system; plus a rubberised full Qwerty keyboard which recycles the pillowed keys of 2008′s Nokia E71. The keyboard also includes shortcut keys for turning on/off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
On the software front, the device comes with WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter preloaded; support for YouTube streaming and web apps; a ‘Games Gift’ of 15 free downloadable “premium” games & apps from the Nokia Store; plus Nokia’s neat voice-guided self-portrait feature, which gets around the lack of a front-facing lens by helping users align a self-portrait when they can’t see the screen.
Nokia’s earlier Facebook-button-packing phone, the full Qwerty Asha 205, was announced in November last year. At the time, the company’s decision to introduce a phone with a dedicated Fb button revived a 2011 trend which, for the majority of last year, appeared to have run its course — without, apparently, covering any of the device maker particpants (including HTC, Orange and Vodafone) in huge heaps of gold.
Asked about sales of the Asha 205, Nokia said it has not broken out any numbers for the model but added that the number of Facebook activations for the device is “significantly higher” than for the average Asha family device. Whatever the sales figures, Nokia clearly believes there is more gold to be mined from low end mobiles by associating its hardware with the biggest brands of the social messaging space.
Asha vs Android: Show me the money
The Asha 210 — along with the entire Nokia Asha range — targets developing markets and cost-conscious consumers, which explains its focus on seeking ways to reduce not just the initial outlay but also the total cost of ownership, while simultaneously amping up its core social offering by making sure it can provide access to big name apps and allow for easy social photo-sharing, as Android does.
The Asha 210 will have a $72 price-tag (before taxes and subsidies). The price-tag puts it in touching distance of budget Androids and while the S40 platform is not as user friendly, flexible or as app-rich as Android, Nokia has been working to strength its competitiveness against Android’s low end with additions such as its cloud-based data-compressing Xpress Browser, which ekes out up to three times as much data as non-compression browsers to help keep the user’s data costs down, plus offers such as ‘Games Gift’ and the free WhatsApp subscription.
As with other Asha devices, the 210 also boasts a long battery life — of up to 46 days on standby, and around 12 hours talk time. Nokia noted that it is using push notification technology to reduce battery drain caused by the Asha 210 checking for WhatsApp/Facebook updates. Update checking is done by Nokia in the cloud, with any new info pushed out to the user’s phone when it arrives.
One more thing…
Nokia and WhatsApp are about to hold an online Q&A about the launch of the Asha 2010 so we’ll be checking for any interesting tidbits that come out of the discussion to add as an update below. Currently, around the world, there is still plenty of regional diversity across messaging and social services – messaging apps are especially fragmented. Many of these apps inevitably compete with and come into conflict with social networking giant Facebook, which wants to own all the world’s chatter. And with Facebook having just launched its app-sidelining Android skin, social challengers such as WhatsApp are likely to be keen to find ways to increase their own visibility on mobile. Having your brand stamped on the outside of a phone sounds like a great place to start.
Updates from the Q&A, with Nokia’s Broadley and Neeraj Arora, business development, at WhatsApp:
On whose idea the WhatsApp hard key was, Nokia’s or WhatsApp’s… Broadley: “We have an ongoing relationship with WhatsApp that spans a range of Nokia Asha and other Nokia products. We are both really excited about this opportunity.”
On whether the WhatsApp hard key will be exclusive to Nokia devices… Arora & Broadley: “We are very excited to bring a dedicated WhatsApp button to Asha 210 and we will take consumer feedback for future consideration.”
On whether Nokia will bundle WhatsApp’s software with all Asha devices… Broadley: “We already bundle WhatsApp with many Nokia Asha family devices and are working on extending it to as many Nokia phones as possible.”
On what evidence there is consumers want social messaging hard keys on phones, or whether they just want easy access to lots of apps & services… Broadley: “With the Nokia Asha 210 we’ve worked hard to give people the best of both worlds. People have access to a dedicated hardware button, preloaded social networks ready to go right out of the box, and access to the Nokia Store to download and install more.”
On WhatsApp’s support for dual SIM devices… Arora: “The launch of Asha 210 does signify WhatsApp’s availability on Dual SIM devices. We are working on extending it to other Dual SIM devices.”
On the differences between the Asha 210 and Nokia’s earlier Facebook button phone, the Asha 205… Arora & Broadley: “There is WhatsApp deep linking into social share gallery and there is more to come.”
On the Asha 210′s battery performance… Broadley: “We have a really high quality Nokia 1200 mAh battery in the Nokia Asha 210. The software really helps get great battery life — for example we have something called Nokia Notifications which works in the cloud to check for your social network updates, then pushes them to the phone. This stops the individual apps having to continually check for updates — saving battery.”
On Nokia’s approach to phone design… Broadley: ”Starting with the Nokia 206 announced just before Christmas we’ve been progressively uniting the Nokia portfolio under a single, coherent design language… We have one stunning design approach across the Nokia range.”
On whether Nokia could introduce a Lumia product with a physical Qwerty to differentiate its smartphones from rivals’… Broadley: “We don’t comment on future plans.”
Nokia looks like it’s hoping to turn up the volume of its Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphones in the U.S. by signing another carrier to its cause. Bloomberg is reporting that Nokia and Verizon have struck a deal that will see the carrier offer a forthcoming flagship, the Lumia 928, starting from next month. Neither the deal nor the device have been made public by Nokia or Verizon but Bloomberg said two people familiar with the situation have confirmed the impending launch.
Bloomberg’s report follows previous leaks in which the Lumia 928 was spotted in the FCC’s and Verizon’s systems. An apparent image of the handset was also leaked earlier this month. When approached for comment a Nokia spokesman told TechCrunch it does not comment on rumour and speculation.
If the Verizon deal is true, the Lumia 928 will be the first high end Lumia the carrier has ranged (it does already carry the mid-range Nokia Lumia 822). In the U.S. Lumia devices such as the flagship Lumia 920 have been exclusively carried by AT&T to date. Getting another major carrier — Verizon has some 100 million subscribers – on board with a flagship is vital for the once Mighty Finn to try to capture more cachet, as well as marketshare.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the Lumia device that will launch on Verizon will have a metal body, a 4.5-inch touch screen, an 8-megapixel camera and wireless charging. Earlier rumours have suggested it will have a polycarbonate body, however, while the internals have generally been expected to remain the same as the Lumia 920.
North America has traditionally been a weak market for Nokia — historically, back in the Symbian days, but also since Nokia’s Windows Phone reboot. But in its Q1 results last week, the region was the only market in which Nokia saw a small increase in sales (up by 9%) compared to last year. Nokia reported selling a total of 5.6 million Lumias globally in the quarter.
Kantar stats we covered earlier this month indicate that Windows Phone as a whole — so not just Nokia devices but also HTC, Samsung etc — has moved up into a distant third place in the US smartphone market, behind the two leaders: Android and iOS, suggesting the platform is slowly building some regional momentum. That momentum may have helped convinced Verizon to take a punt on a Lumia flagship.
Last November, I switched from an iPhone to the Galaxy Note 2. The iPhone just doesn’t keep up with my needs anymore. After years of waiting for Apple to bring new innovations to the iPhone, I’ve watched Google and its partners slowly begin to edge past what Apple offers – and now I’m moving with them. Continue reading
De camera’s in mobiele telefoons worden steeds beter de Nokia 808 Pureview is een van de toestellen die meer iets weg heeft van een fototoestel met telefoon functie dan andersom Maar fotocamera’s die uitgerust zijn met bijvoorbeeld een slot……
Vier jaar geleden waren het grote namen, nu krijgen Nokia en BlackBerry alleen nog maar grote klappen. Cijfers over marktaandelen laten krimp van veertig en zestig procent zien.
De kiekjes zijn afkomstig van een Chinese bron en dus nauwelijks op echtheid te toetsen maar als we de geruchten mogen geloven dan zou dit wel eens een prototype van een van de eerste Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphpones kunnen zijn.