On our trip to Lapland and back I had the opportunity to see and try out the much waited Nokia N97 phone. And was not thoroughly impressed, even though I saw promise in the phone.
First of all I have to say that in many cases Nokia is really trying to drive the mobile innovation, even though it seems that Apple reaps most of the benefits and fame on smartphone-front. N97 fails or comes short exactly in the area where Apple shines, usability and user experience. Since I switched to macs I have lost some of my geek nerves as these days I become frustrated with devices and programs that are not intuitive to use or fight against usability idioms I have learned or become used to. First feel with N97 was not that bad or horrible, but it felt very Nokia – something you don’t brag about or show to your friends as you might do with numerous iPhone features and apps. But N97 is clearly best and most interesting S60 Phone from Nokia and with few updates it might become excellent, if not now – hopefully in future generations.
There were lot’s of things that were good: Nokia maps worked nicely with large touch screen, flipping through photo gallery worked also well and … and I forgot the rest. I remember giving the phone back to it’s owner quite fast as the quick test drive did not immediately make me want one. ”Meh, I’ll wait for the next generation or get iPhone or .. or ..”
I might feel differently about the phone if I had had it for longer time, personalized it for my needs and really used new features like widgets for web services I use. However customizing the front menu and general usability made me not to want to invest more time to testdrive the phone yet. Like I said, the phone has promise and can build on top of strong hardware features that Nokia has bunded into the phone.
Nokia still has great, great possibilities with their phones and software, if they get their stuff together. iPhone clearly sets the bar for comparison, but as we all know the iPhone ecosystem has lots of problems – most clearly the dictatorship that Apple controls about applications that are allowed into the ecosystem. Nokia’s platform is truly open and has interesting technological features, but it seems that people don’t yet get the best out of the platform to produce constantly world changing applications again and again.
iPhone development and ecosystem is in it’s own league, but at the same time Android is picking up speed. Nokia really needs to get their stuff together and capture mindshare from developers. If you look at developer materials for iPhone or Android, you can see and feel that development on that platform could be fun. Nokia has so much different software platforms, features and different phones that developers can feel themselves overwhelmed on where to start and how to start. Atleast I know that I do feel like that.
Looking forward what happens with smartphones next year. If nothing interesting comes along, I will try to continue living with my N95 8Gb – though there is not many days when I wish that I would have an iPhone.