I recently got myself a brand new N97 Mini. I have forever been a Nokia fan, and wanted to try out this new device which has certain improvements over the disastrous N97. When I got hold of the N97 Mini, I was pretty happy with it, the touch sensitivity is decent inspite of it having a resistive touch screen. The build quality is really good and so is the form factor. The main advantage of this device is the presence of a QWERTY keyboard. This comes in really really handy when one is typing long posts like this one or say, an email.
I find it a pain to type on a virtual keyboard. That may also be because the N97 Mini doesnt have a true landscape keyboard and one has to use the default phone layout.
Anyway, once the amazement factor faded away, I slowly discovered the true picture of the device. The thing is, this phone uses exactly the same processor and RAM as the new X6, N97 original. This has 128MB of RAM, runs Symbian^1 and has 8GB of internal memory. Symbian unlike the iOS is built for multitasking. In fact having used Nokia for many years now, I cant think of using a phone which doesnt offer multitasking, I have sort of taken it for granted on my phones. Unfortunately however, as you might have figured out, the RAM and the processor (ARM 11 434 MHz processor) are totally insufficient for this device. This is not to say that it hampers day to day use of the device, but it definitely doesnt give you the "edge" which something like a Nexus one or an iPhone gives you. Although the blame of producing an insufficiently powered device can only be blamed on the Finnish manufacturer, Symbian^1 doesnt help things either. Although decent, Symbian^1 is not specifically suitable for touchscreen devices, although ironically it has been built for it. Vertical browsing of apps is quite difficult simply because a) it takes quite some time to "load" the menu and b) its perfectly possible that you end up opening the wrong apps while browsing through the list. I felt disappointed, even though I knew that I was using one of the "high-end" devices of Nokia.
And finally came the death knell. The iPhone 4. Armed with a magnanimous 512MB of RAM and a blazing fast 1Ghz processor, this soon became the device of the year thus far. The iOS was revamped to support multitasking, subfolders and some extra jingles. It now has a gyroscope, obviously a superb touch screen and now a retina display. Its hard to miss the irony here. When Apple is trying to outdo everyone else by revamping their phone, Nokia seems quite content to come up with refurbished (sorry but thats the most appropriate term) devices for example N97 mini, N95 (phew cant even remember how many versions of it we had!), 5800 etc. These are dated devices in today's scenario. Unfortunately Nokia simply ignores the current situation where all other manufacturers are simply coming up with better devices. And from the looks of it, the N8 wont be much of a game changer either. Its simply lacks the punch to compete with most of the flagship devices of other companies and I'm not even considering Apple.
Finally, the biggest failure of Nokia in my opinion is the failure to create a proper software market. Its obsession with Symbian, now MeeGo makes it really difficult for developers to come up with proper apps. Hence the Ovi Store even after a year of its launch is simply a complete and utter disaster. Compare that to the Android market or the Apple App Store.
Is Nokia losing? Hell yes, and fast. The departure of many noted blogs from the web including the famed SymbianGuru is proof enough of that. Unless they get their act straight, which in my opinion is going to be very very difficult, Nokia will soon become a phenomenon of the past which once had a majority market share in smartphone devices.
But lets end on a positive note, and hope this legendary company does get its act together (I alongwith millions of others are pinning my hopes on this man, Anssi Vanjoki, the new head of mobile solutions, Nokia. His recent statement can be found here on his blog: http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/07/02/the-fightback-starts-now/ )