What Nokia needed to fix two years ago

Posted by Mister Mobility

On the 7th of May 2009, I published an article titled, What Nokia needs to fix right away. I am surprised that its been two years already. Anyway, two years is enough to review the items I listed and other things I said in that article.




Adequate RAM
I can’t speak for the older 3rd and 5th Edition devices, as I haven’t used those in a while, but the current crop of Symbian 3 devices appear to mostly have adequate RAM. Both the N8 and the E7 run up to 10 apps (and in some cases even more) without breaking a sweat.

The “out of memory” errors are now a rare occurence.

UI Sluggishness
Again, S60 is gone and Symbian3 runs smoothly for the most part. Certainly, the latest crop of Symbian devices cannot be described as sluggish anymore.


Web browser
This is one area in which Nokia have foot-dragged. Even RIM beat Nokia to a new, better browser. The new Nokia browser is ready though, but not available on any production device yet. The browser will be shipping with the Symbian Anna update – and that update can’t come too soon.

Nokia is stretching its resources in too many directions
It does not look like this will change for a while. There’s Symbian on its way out but still 150million of those to ship and support, there’s Windowsphone on its way in, there’s MeeGo for research/experimental purposes, and then there’s S40 for lowend devices.

Perhaps that is the burden of being the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones.

“Download” app
Smartphone users who came in recently may have no idea what the heck the “Download” app was on Nokia/Symbian devices. Well, it was the Ovi Store’s first incarnation. Believe me, it mostly did not work.

Thankfully, it was fixed and is still being refined with the Ovi Store, which mostly works well, minus a few niggles. Today the Ovi Store is recording over 5 million downloads per day. Kudos!

S60 5th Edition UI
I am a huge Nokia fan, but I am also one of their greatest critics. From where I stood in 2009, S60 5th Edition was just so bad that I wouldn’t buy or use a device running that platform. I simply boycotted that entire range of Nokia devices and used smartphones from other manufacturers.


Well, S60 5th Edition UI hasn’t been exactly fixed, but it has been replaced with Symbian3 which is much, much better and very usable. I only wish Nokia simply stopped producing devices running 5th Edition. What’s the point? You see, people who don’t know better would buy 5th Edition devices and just conclude that Symbian sucks – not knowing that something better exists.

Internal memory
Nokia have stepped up their game in this area and are shipping their ddevices with adequate (and in many cases, more than adequate) internal memory.

Conclusions
We see that apart from the browser, Nokia have addressed the majority of issues with the Symbian platform. Plus, as good as Symbian3 currently is, those who have reviewed the Nokia C7 Astound (running a pre-Anna firmware) swear that it makes Symbian3 feel frustrating. This suggests that Symbian Anna may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Will the above changes suddenly turn Nokia’s smartphone fortunes around? I don’t think so. So many things have changed since I wrote that article two years ago. Too many things.

In the discusssion following that article back in 2009, I also responded to a comment with the following comment of mine:

…let me have the priviledge of saying upfront that Nokia is on a downward slide, and while they may not end up like Motorola (those guys should just stick with supplying the military and leave consumer phones well enough), Nokia will lose significant market share.

Someday soon, Nokia won’t be the leader in terms of marketshare any longer. They have already lost the position of leader in terms of innovation and product development. The former is just a matter of time.

No-one stays on top forever.

Was I right? Yes; I was. The downward slide happened and is still happening. Symbian is already no longer the number one smartphone OS. Nokia’s Symbian OS lost significant marketshare.

But if there is one manufacturer with the financial and technical capacity to pull their migration plans off without becoming a minor player, it is Nokia. Still, we will have to wait and see it all play out.

In the meantime, I remain an outspoken Nokia loyalist and critic rolled into one.


4 comments

  1. Nokia is taking the right babystep by teaming up with Microsoft on the software front.Most of the complaints about SymbianPhones are software issues.

    Nokia should focus more on their strong point- core competence – HARDWARE, and allow the software pros do their job

    On the issue of the browser, for instance – why not just license OPERA or Uc Mobile -and stop trying to reinvent an existing well-oiled wheel?

    Stretching your-(self / resources) thin, of course, makes you a master of nothing!
    And that is what Nokia should desist from (their imminent first foray into the tablet jungle comes to mind)

  2. I totally agree that Nokia has spread it’s self rather thin lately. I think their move to outsource their Symbian development to accenture is a rather clever move, as Nokia has repeatedly shown that they fall shot in terms of creating appealing UX and are dire need of an outside opinion, the Gravity app has shown how innovative independent developers can be.
    In terms of managing their OSes I think they should go the usual OEM way and allow the software developer call the shot in terms of updates. They can continue with their feature phones ie S40 can further enabling this propertiary OS by making it a par with what’s obtainable with the likes sony ericsson, samsung and LG

  3. Nokia sure had a great time with Symbian and it really pains that Nokia will eventually drop Symbian (Windows Phone 7 must perform oh)

    Sometimes I wonder why those who created Symbian created it with so much limitations and why its so unfortunate and they just cant make a change to what the OS can take.

    Though it might take time, but Nokia has moved on and they will sure survive and get some market share back.

    I am just so sorry for Symbian, we used it, Loved it and yet we dumped it.

    All that is Constant will change. Google Beware.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *