Thoughts on Nseries

Nokia Nseries

Dear Nokia,

Congratulations on the N97! It’s a very exciting product, but great devices alone don’t make you a leader.

So what is really needed for the Nseries brand to succeed? Here are my thoughts…

1) Hardware

This is where you rule. You are the leader in making devices optimized for content creation. Be more aggressive. Decrease time to market, with simultaneous worldwide launches.

The N97 is a step in the right direction, but you need a bunch of different Nseries devices with touch, some without keyboards.

Get rid of resistive touch screens. Capacitive is the future (and the present). You already have capacitive (?) green “start” and red “end” call buttons on the N97. Capacitive does not preclude writing recognition.

One word: multitouch.

You need an 8 megapixel device (if only to keep up with the competition). You need cameras with both Xenon and LED flashes. You need to add auto-focus to video recording. What about optical zoom? HD video recording?

All Nseries devices should always feature an active lens cover.

2) Software

Short term: S60v5 is a step in the right direction, but the UI is inconsistent. Fix that.

Pay attention to the details that make the user experience so much better. Like gapless music playback (no break between live tracks) on the iPod/iPhone.

Look at what Apple is doing with he mobile version of OS X (especially the UI), Cocoa Touch, and the Developer Connection. Look at what Android is doing (again the UI) and the Android developer platform. Learn. Take the best of both.

Here’s a radical idea. Embrace Android as an optional OS for Nseries devices. Add a full Bluetooth stack to it…

Long term: roll Maemo/Hildon into Symbian/S60. Unix/linux is the future of the mobile OS.

Open source everything.

3) Services

Look at what Apple is doing with the iTunes Store and the App Store ecosystem. Look at what Android is doing with the Google services integration and the Android Market. Learn.

OVI is a step in the right direction, viNe is unique and cool (when it works). You have too many disparate services. Consolidate, get rid of the multiple logins.

Download! died, came back as a zombie and died again :) Start an app store from scratch, and integrate it with the Symbian developer platform. Do it now!

Nokia PC Suite is crap. Your Windows/Mac software is horrible in general. USB mass storage and Bluetooth have you covered. Forget about the desktop/laptop. It’s all about the “cloud”. Focus on mobile sync and mobile content delivery. Establish standards.

Follow Google’s lead. Beta everything (but make sure it works). If a service already exists and allows it, integrate with it at the OS level: Google, Twitter/Jaiku, Flickr, Youtube/Qik, Facebook, etc…

Put a lot of money into it. If you can’t put a lot of money into it, partner with Google (cf. radical idea in point #2 above).

4) Final thoughts

Microsoft is dead. RIM is in trouble.

Stop underestimating Apple. They may be huge in the US and tiny in Europe/Asia but they are wily and they will grow further. They are the #1 Nseries competition. Problem is, they are optimized for content consumption, and they are closed…

You are open. You “get” the blogger community (unlike anyone else). Use this to your advantage.

Regards, tnkgrl

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16 Responses to Thoughts on Nseries

  1. Michael says:

    Could you also put in there to have t-mobile phones? I love nokia but without 3G support for t-mobile I can not get any of their phones, or at least it would be a waste to spend that kind of money and not have 3G service. I use an iPhone currently and would love, love, love to get the N97 when it comes out but my next phone is going to be 3G which leaves me very few to choose from. I understand that t-mobile decided to screw their customers by going with a non-standard band frequency for 3G but phones need to be made either way. No matter the reasons for it the phone companies need to support them also.

  2. varun says:

    As long as you’re complaining, please do make a note that if I buy a $500 Nseries phone, I expect it to last a year without creaking or rattling or otherwise acting like a cheap piece of plastic. My two month old N78 already has something loose rattling inside. Admittedly, not a $500 phone, but my $100 3310 was better made!

  3. I was pleasantly surprised with Mac support on the N95 1) it worked with software you were already using instead of duplicating functionality 2) for not being an iPod it synced just as easily, how many mp3 players do that?

    PC Suite is horrid. Explaining DUN to a friend by saying “just click the button” was a dream though. I hate having to drag it out for firmware updates.

  4. Aditya Singhvi says:

    That is really a great post!

    I think I’ll add to that , Nokia needs to lower prices on its accessories and N-Gage games. Prices for accessories and N-Gage games outside the EU and USA are not exactly sensible. High prices means that you will have a lot of copyright and trademark violations… Why not avoid that, by pricing your products according to the economics prevailing in that country.

  5. [...] online services, Ovi, single user id, unified service Picture courtesy, http://www.symbian-freak.com tnkgrl’s recent post, on what Nokia can do for the Nseries to make it even better, got me [...]

  6. Saheb says:

    I love nokia phones, they always make great phones, I had the 7710 it was a pretty good phone that phone was so ahead of its time I thought it was good but it didn’t really pick up. I dropped that phone so many times and it never even got a scratch. Two thing I would really like to see in Nokia is in-built fm and 3.5mm jack become standard.

    @tnkgrl: Since the mini-USB port became standard in Nokia you could just plug the phone in and go into Memory card mode so it would load like a USB-Pen Drive, effectively making the PC-suite not necessary. And I agree they should let the consumer decide on weather they want Google OS or Symbian OS. I would like to mention I like the Symbian OS I don’t see anything wrong with I would even say that it may be the most user friendly UI I have seen (I have not tried the Google or IPhone UI).

  7. rallat says:

    Just the same I think. Brilliant :)

  8. [...] on how to fix N-Series. It’s a bit of a meandering rant, and for that a apologize. I notice tnkgrl Mobile has posted her’s too. I challenge other bloggers to share their thoughts on the subject as well. This is an open [...]

  9. [...] tnkgrl Mobile – Open letter to Nokia; Thoughts on N-Series [...]

  10. [...] received a thoughtful email from Michael Davis, in response to tnkgrl and I posting our Open Letter(s) to Nokia.  Michael makes some great points, and encourages Nokia [...]

  11. STEFAN LOVES LINUX says:

    I also agree nokia should built a n97(like device) with an android OS, and let the consumer decide which they love most.

    That would be a strong decision instead of making vocal ‘speaking jokes’ when calling Apple and Google names on Nokia World 2008.

    We (read I) like open source and good phones, rather then this stubbern Look-how good-I-am-competition.

    Dare to listen, and be strong enough to accept the talents of other OS/ Phone makers.

    Dont get that same arrogance other big companies have. And have ‘the Balls’ to COOPERATE with colleague-competitors who have the same vision or openness.

    You are doing very good NOKIA, hope you will continue this connection with all you fans.

  12. @michael, you should probably look into getting out of T-Mobile… While I love their customer service, I haven’t had to call AT&T customer care in a while… the 4 main bands for quad band are 850 1900 us and 900 1800 europe, 2100 is thrown in there as well… so, if you get a quad band, your’re covered 2g and Edge usually… but T-Mobile had to rush to buy the 1700 up or down and 2100 the other… what a waste… they limited themselves, but they weren’t doing it so that you could bring unlocked phones… they were doing it for themselves….

  13. [...] also done her share of thinking, and outlined her views for the future of Nseries over on her blog. Jump over to see what she thinks and join the comment [...]

  14. Vikram C says:

    Hi Tnkgrl,

    Great post on what Nokia needs to do.

    I’m intrigued that you say “4) Final thoughts… RIM is in trouble” .

    I’m interested to know why you say this about RIM. I use the Blackberry Curve 8320 and have used the SE P990, Nokia N76, 7610 and 3230 before that.

    I totally agree with your suggestion on Nokia working with Android. They should avoid getting into mindless, arrogant competition. Sony did it when through their Sony Ericsson unit they went and bought UIQ and made it more closed and restrictive for 3rd party apps. Now they’ve announced that they will work with Android or whatever OS takes the public’s fancy !

    Regards

  15. Counsel says:

    A few of my thoughts are:’

    1. 5MP on a phone is fine. You want to take NICE pictures, get a camera…

    2. Open Source Software is just “open source.” OSS is not necessarily better or more functional. It may drive you forward, and it may hurt. Quality matters… Android is Google, and other OSS projects all have “leaders.” One leader isn’t necessarily better than another–they all have objectives. I think there are few who are open to ideas they, personally, don’t buy into…

    3. App stores are nice, but they should not be the ONLY way to get software on the phone/device.

    4. Get your products to the USA. Having the product in a music video is great, but I can’t go buy it… Your placement was “wasted” if you can’t provide the device when that “hot” ad (whatever form) is “published.”

    5. Partner with your partners now–great. Get involved with software development–actively.

    While the App store (iPhone) is great, I don’t use that much of the software on my phone. Apple simply gets a bite out of the developer’s profits. Apple has an incentive to “approve” stuff just to get income–note the “rich gem application that has since been removed… All it did was draw a red gem on the iPhone’s screen–for all of what? 900USD? Apple got 300USD each time that app was “purchased.”

    Market. Apple, Nintendo, Google, they all market–some with funds and others with software/services. Get your product and its functional use out to the public with videos made for each market. I’d ask for user-generated videos–you would be surprised of the quality you received at no cost… I dare you to simply ask…

  16. [...] of convergence, and executed it with the N95? I asked that question a little over two years ago in this editorial, and I continue to ask that question in the podcast [...]

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