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Nokia the Next Gizmondo? 115

An anonymous reader writes, "Yesterday Symbian announced that 100 million Symbian smart phones have shipped to over 250 network operators worldwide since the company's formation. According to a CNet article, however, Nokia phones running on the OS are actually worse than their non-Symbian predecessors. From the article: 'The fact is, Nokia's phones are in danger of turning from the iPods of the phone world into the Gizmondos — from devices dedicated to doing one thing well to jacks-of-all-trades that do too many things poorly. The S60 3rd Edition interface has received tons of criticism from veteran Nokia users for being far too complicated to use. It's great that there's new stuff to play with, but not so great that the old stuff, as in making calls and sending texts, has been made more complicated.'"
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Nokia the Next Gizmondo?

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  • by GekkePrutser ( 548776 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:06PM (#16897922)
    Nokia's Series 60 phones are much better than this article is claiming. I have used them since the first generation (Nokia 3650) and never looked back. I currently own a Nokia E60 and use most of its features, including automatic email retrieving through WiFi, VoIP (it automatically logs on to my SIP provider when I'm home), and even navigation (TomTom), although for that I prefer my Windows PocketPC for its speedier CPU and big touchscreen. The new and improved user interface in the 3rd generation Symbian is also beautiful and much handier than its predecessors.

    It's just stupid to say that these phones are bad because they try to do too much. Of course, they do a lot, and if you want a phone to simply call, then just get another phone! Even Nokia makes simple phones for both consumers (3220) and business users (6230i). I have used them both and hated them, they feel so awfully dumb after using a Symbian. Just simple features of Copy & Paste, or the excellent call log feature of the Series 60 phone makes it worthwhile.

    These phones have their market, the same market that has embraced the blackberry when everyone was saying it was a chunky overpriced device. Nokia is the biggest mobile phone manufacturer in the world and it only stands to reason that they have a wide range of phones with something for everyone.
  • by Xenna ( 37238 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:04PM (#16898370)
    That's why I like the Nokia Communicator line of phones. When closed they are pretty basic phones that work like the simplest Nokia's of old. When open you get all the power (and complexity) of Symbian S80, a big screen and a pretty usable keyboard. I started out with a 9110 and after a short detour to a phone/pda combo I'm very glad to be back.

    I heard that Nokia plans on running S60 on future communicators. I'm looking forward to getting one after my current 9300.

  • by Corpus_Callosum ( 617295 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:04PM (#16898374) Homepage
    I was following you 100% until you claimed the RAZR as an example of a phone that "got it right."
    I should have specified, I currently use the RAZR V3i, which has a slightly improved interface, a megapixel camera, iTunes and a much faster processor. The original RAZR was indeed a bit harder to use.

    Even so, the RAZR is far from perfect. My point is just that it tends, for me at least, to be quicker and easier than any other phone that I have owned (and I have owned samples from all major smartphone manufacturers).
  • Re:Hurry up Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mobiilimarsu ( 1027740 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:35PM (#16898690)
    Seconded. I'm reading/typing this on a N80 and it doesn't cost me a dime (that "default" guy seems to have an open access point everywhere ;)
  • Re:My list of flaws (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gilgongo ( 57446 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:58PM (#16898874) Homepage Journal
    No, I love my N73 too, but there are several problems. I'm sure someone somewhere is going to post about how all they want to do is make a call, but that's actually implemented fairly well, although not perfectly. People who want to use the hardware to its full potential are the ones who will suffer! Here are some real issues I've found, and they amaze me

    I recently saw Christian Lindholm [], head of Yahoo! Mobile (and former Director of Multimedia Applications for the Nokia Ventures) give a talk entitled "Mobile Usability" at the Neilsen Norman Group's User Experience 2006 in London a couple of week ago.

    He used the N73 and other recent Nokias as examples of state of the art devices: full-specced in every aspect (memory, CPU, pixels) and a remarkable device because of it. Nokia are selling more cameras than Kodak (or something like that). Yet despite the subject of his talk, he didn't mention the usability of the phones at all. In fact, I was rather amazed at how uninspiring this man was in talking about mobile phones and their use. For example, he described how Yahoo! designed a mobile portal for the UEFA 2006 World Cup - the most popular sporting event on earth. His description of their design process mentioned some user tests in passing - something like they built the system, showed it to some users, made a couple of tweaks, then went live. I later asked him a question about this. To what extent is user testing a part of what they do at Yahoo! mobile? He fluffed it with some meaningless crap about keeping the user in mind when they design. I kept one eye on Jakob Nielsen sitting in the row beside me - I thought his face twitched rather more then usual while Lindholm said this.

    My opinon? People who design mobile devices - or at least this guy - are mesmerised by hardware: the size, the spec, the pixels, the memory. They care very little, if at all, about software and its usability. Take a look at the guy's blog: it's all about hardware, battery life, picture quality, etc. Yes, I know he invented the "navikey" (although not exactly a huge mental leap), but I don't care if my phone produces great pictures if it's hard to take them in the first place. What good is a wonderful screen if you're looking at shit software, or hitting the wrong keys or having to remember arcane menu sequences just to turn on Bluetooth?

    Designing software for phones is hard (device compatability, shipping cycles, marketing issues etc. etc.) but in my opinon, if people like Lindholm continue to all but ignore mobile usability, things are not going to get much better very fast.

  • by tbradshaw ( 569563 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @05:17PM (#16899020) Homepage
    Right on. I would imagine that the faster processor alone would have been an amazing improvement in user experience.
  • Re:My list of flaws (Score:3, Interesting)

    by synx ( 29979 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @05:27PM (#16899108)
    This comment is revealing, as well as the GP. The GP talks about the amazing memory, speed, etc, etc the lists a whole HUGE list of UI problems that demonstrate the designers were thinking of a mouse-interaction paradigm, not a cell phone. Meaning any action is not very efficient - you need to look at the screen too much to activate simple functions, you need to press too many buttons to enable simple functionality, etc.

    As for the yahoo guy - well 'keeping users in mind' is not really enough when it comes to design. That thought line is essentially sheer arrogance - it belies an attitude of "we know our users, and we can accommodate their needs" - the arrogance is that they think they know what their users want. Time after time, house after house, many engineering firms have been surprised over and over that what they THOUGHT users cared about, turned out to be completely 110% wrong.

    All of these reasons is why I am waiting with bated breath for the iPhone. I know that steve jobs will REFUSE to put the Apple brand on anything as poorly usable, weak willed as the current Nokia/Symbian phones.

    One other thing, I looked at a Symbian phone a few years ago. I really didn't like it - the UI was slow, basic functions were SLOW. Hit "dial" to bring up the last calls... why the HELL does this take more than 50-100 ms? Why is it taking 1 second? I blame the Java underpinnings. I think Java has encouraged an entire generation of programmers to code without performance considerations. Hell Java makes it hard to code for performance, since I find it's computation model does not map cleanly in my mind to actual on the chip execution. The development culture also discourages any of that line of thought. You generally accidently stumble into poorly performing solutions, which is remarkable considering how much power we have in computers these days. The dynamic-dispatch nature of Objective C seems positively high performance in comparison.

    Making users delighted is all about doing what they expect. The technophiles are clearly in control at Nokia. I hope Apple puts them out of business, because Nokia will have earned it.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.