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Content:

  1. Nokia and Yahoo! or how to support you share price
  2. MeeGo and Nokia or silver bullet turned into nail
  3. MeeGo for netbooks test
  4. Vertu X or Ascent 2010
  5. Samsung Galaxy S i9000 or is it worth writing a review?

Nokia and Yahoo! or how to support you share price

Every week I promise not to write about Nokia and its business problems, but the company cannot stop coming up with news topics. In particular, the strategic alliance between Nokia and Yahoo! was unveiled with great fanfare. Nokia provides to Yahoo! its map services, while the latter will promote Nokia services. Login bases will be merged, so your OVI login will enable you to enter Yahoo! account. It underlines once again that Nokia has considerably overestimated its strength in terms of services.

During the last five years Yahoo was behind many Nokia initiatives and the Finnish manufacturer installed Yahoo! applications on its phones. It is not well known that Yahoo! supported OVI Mail and OVI Chat. Todays announcement that these two services will be jointly named as Powered by Yahoo within OVI concept just makes public what has been arranged long before.

Global initiatives will appear in 2011 and the first results should be expected in the second part of the year. But we can already say that Nokia is consistent in its decision not to compete directly with Google, Microsoft and other companies in this niche. When Nokia made a beeline for services it had no experience in this field and it still doesnt have any. In attempts to move its core business from telephones to services Nokia suffered a defeat. It is difficult to make a U-turn, but to pursue with the services development single handedly is far from easy either. As a result the company is looking for alliances, but the current arrangement with Yahoo! looks easy for Nokia, but will not benefit its business much. Historically Yahoo! is strong in the US market only and in other parts of the world its positions are quite weak. At the same time Nokia products are not widely represented in the US, so there will be no synergy effect from such cooperation. Yahoo! package will appear in Nokia devices in the countries where it has already been present, but failed to gather momentum. Nokia maps will come to the market where Google reigns supreme with its free services and in head to head competition OVI maps will always lose (for the US territory). Strange move, isnt it? This resounding announcement is just an attempt to hide negative news and prove to the investors that the companys top managers work hard and are worth their salt. This attempt is weak and strange though. It resembles one more hesitant move similar to the situation with Maemo, Symbian and other initiatives. As to Symbian this year we will hear a lot of interesting news from Nokia, which will also be devoid of purpose and determination.

The markets reacted quite calmly to the cooperation news and Nokia shares began to slide down. The bottom should have been reached during the last several months, but the company cannot regain the trust of its investors in the absence of any positive developments. However, the trajectory is self-explanatory.

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MeeGo and Nokia or silver bullet turned into nail

Fans of Nokia tablets found in MeeGo the continuation of Maemo. Fundamentally, one cant speak about any continuation as here we have Intel solution for PCs, which was extended to mobile devices. Nokias decision to stop the independent development of Maemo and its switch to Intels Moblin was unexpected, but followed several events. First, the sales of Nokia N900 turned out to be shocking even for the internal forecasts. Top managers of Nokia keep on saying that they have not expected such excellent results, but the market information signals quite the opposite.

Gartner provides sales data on Maemo devices represented under Nokia brand only by N900. In the first quarter of 2009 (the sales of the model started in November) Nokia managed to sell 50 000 devices worldwide. In the first quarter of 2010 the sales plunged even further. All in all during 5 months the company managed to sell 100 000 Nokia N900 and the figures for its flagship model were stunningly low. The sales of Nokia N97 were 10 times higher, so the price is not an issue. Thats the way the product is received by the customers.

Surprisingly, but we have to calculate the number of devices purchased by Nokia itself, because these sales are also included into the statistics. Taking into account the number of employees in the company and the journalists who received the model according to my modest estimate this figure is likely to reach 10 000 or 10 % of overall sales. If you calculate this indicator for the fourth quarter of 2009, it will be two times higher. Are you surprised? Of course not, because this is a niche product aimed at geeks and techies. In fact Maemo had to use the experience of the first model and go further, but it is not going to happen. People in Nokia decided that it would be too expensive to continue with this product independently and develop a vertical OS for its devices without any help. The choice was made to use Moblin from Intel.

What will it bring to Nokia in the future? Obviously MeeGo will not be just an OS from Nokia as it is free for download on PCs an can be used by any user of Intel chipsets. Intel will be able to boost the sales of its hardware, but the contribution of Nokia will be merely the creation of an interface for the mobile version. It completely contradicts with the initial Nokia plans of Maemo devices. In particular, the company was planning to produce not only the smartphones, but navigation devices, netbooks and other products run under Maemo. For Nokia their own OS was an opportunity to be different from other manufacturers. Cooperation with Intel will bury such plans. Nokia will have its own interface for smartphones and some sort of general interface for third party manufacturers. The company falls into the same trap as with Symbian. Initially this OS was being developed independently, but at some stage Nokia decided to make it open and attract other developers. It hasnt happened because the main line for the company was to promote its own Symbian products (which is right and logical) and other companies didnt get the equal opportunities because of the chaos inside Nokia and Symbian Foundation. The testing and development of OS was inferior in organization and management in comparison with Android from Google. For the leading OS in the market it signals the slowdown of development, because it is funded by one company only and its resources are not limitless. Android is developing quicker as different companies offer different variants of functions and some of them feature in the final versions of OS.

The advantages of cooperation with Intel are quite numerous for Nokia too. Lets look at the main ones:

  • Less investment into the creation of OS, faster updating, better integration with Intel hardware;
  • Less funding of marketing and promotion of MeeGo, sharing of marketing budgets with the manufacturers of netbooks, laptops and Intel;
  • An opportunity to concentrate on the creation of its own interface;

The disadvantages of this approach are clear as well. Maemo project had to ensure the leadership position in the market of smartphones by offering the unique solution. Lets look at the case against such cooperation:

  • Use of standard Intel hardware and harmonization with other manufacturers. The unique selling point can only be in high volume and lower price or the unique interface, but the hardware will be similar (especially in the case of Asian companies);
  • No competitive advantage over the manufacturers of netbooks and navigation devices due to the same OS and its interface common for everybody. For navigation devices Nokia sees advantage in OVI Maps, but the current sales prove otherwise and the consumers choose products based on their overall characteristics;

I decided not to describe all pros and cons in detail as the main facts are more than enough. It is quite clear that Nokia planned to use Maemo as its entry ticket to the market of different devices and a vertical OS.

If you want to know what a vertical OS is and what its function had to be for Nokia go here.

Nokia havent gone down this path due to pragmatic reasons. Nokia products will lose their unique selling point and be viewed in one line with other manufacturers (for example, companies from China), which will negatively influence its image. Others have either count on their own OSs (Apple, BlackBerry), Android from Google (Motorola, Sony Ericsson) or both (Samsung develops Android and Bada simultaneously). In this situation Nokia is left one on one with numerous second tier manufacturers who suddenly get the same hardware as the market leader (Intel sells its products to everybody and they dont care much about Nokias interests) and even the same OS. They will compete on price, which is the worst case scenario for Nokia as the company itself creates the conditions for the depreciation of its phones and deterioration of image in comparison with the smartphones of smaller players. Pragmatism of Nokia prevailed over the common sense. By creating a silver bullet Nokia was unexpectedly left with a nail in its hands. A reliable, proper and straight, but it is only a nail. Only time will tell how Nokia can use it, but global ambitions with MeeGo are certainly misplaced. The rules have been changed and Nokia has no aces at the start.

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MeeGo for netbooks test

Last week the first version of MeeGo for netbooks working on Intel Atom was released, it can be installed to test the OS and the interface. Especially I want to mention that MeeGo version for Nokia N900 was also released, though it was said earlier that there will not be one for this device. However it appeared with a mode of command line, there is no interface yet, it is promised to be released in September. Therefore for most our readers, this news is not of particular interest.

Let's return to MeeGo 1.0 for netbooks. You can download the OS.

There is a choice between version with Chromium browser and the one with built in MeeGo browser. Probably it is better to choose the one with Google browser. You can install it from external CD or USB. It is as good as done. Installation process is nicely described on MeeGo website, after going through all the operations and getting USB with the system image I tried to install it on Lenovo S10 (it is in the list of supported devices). For unknown reasons installation failed because MeeGo could not create a section on my hard drive which would have NTFS structure (with Windows installed by default). That is why after trying various methods, I set aside MeeGo exploration for the vacation time, and loaded from USB. I tested different menus and looked trough the interface. But later I changed my mind, deleted Windows totally leaving only MeeGo. It was a facile decision but I wanted to get to know the system closely.

It looks good, works fast enough, logic is not always clear but you are getting used to it in short time. In a word it is not a bad Windows alternative for netbooks, especially because it is not so resource consuming. There are main programs to work with the Internet and E-mail, though there is no variety of software (This is the issue that I want to address particularly, but I could not find for example any other E-mail client straight away. I will appreciate any recommendations).

I have no doubt that MeeGo will get a certain share of netbooks OS market and it will do it rather quickly. I would be interested in MeeGo as in second alternative to Windows on my netbook. As the main OS it is obviously lacking all the usual programs, but sometimes all you need is to simply surf the Net, and MeeGo has more than enough opportunities for this purpose.

I hope that after detailed examination of the Intel Os I will be able to share my thoughts about it, because yet I could not install it. I am just planning to install MeeGo on Lenovo S10 after finishing this issue of Spillikins and see what will happen. Meanwhile it happened so that the most friendly and light version of Linux does not see the default WiFi adapter and those settings that I could find in the Net are nothing but shaman dances in which I did not succeed after an hour of attempts. It has been a while since I could not start working with an OS from the box in such a way that I would have to figure out how to install WiFi drivers. So if you are going to try and install it, be careful. MeeGo turned out to be another toy for the enthusiasts, but with such a great lack of drivers for most of the netbooks developers made a huge mistake.

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Vertu X or Ascent 2010

It was the first visit of Frank Nuovo in Moscow, he came for a few hours, made his way through the traffic jams to the Progressive Daddy club, in order to spend a couple of hours speaking with celebrities, journalists and simply nice people. The event was scheduled for 7 p.m. but the trip from the airport took much longer and it all started around 9 p.m. I must admit that it was a question of principle to wait for the legendary designer to arrive. As the result I took a short interview, specified a number questions about companys past and then I felt free to get out from the official part, in which I had little interest. The reason for this is that I already have Ascent 2010 and you will be able to read the full review in a day or two, and now I can share some thoughts about Vertu and about this specific model. I imply that before the review you will have an opportunity to read expanded thoughts about Vertu 2010 model lineup, to look at different models and see in what direction the company is moving. Meanwhile I will tell you briefly about all of it.

So, last year for the first time in its history Vertu released a flip phone, this was the first device in this form factor with such a price. The review of Vertu Ayxta has been published on our website for quite a while so there is no point repeating.

Review of GSM/UMTS-phone Vertu Constellation Ayxta

In 2010 the company has already launched Ascent 2010 model range. While being developed this model was named Ascent X, this name can be found in the phone menu, also the model number starts with the letter X. There is nothing unusual in this phones positioning, it is a sort of replacement for Vertu TI, as the latter has stayed on the market for too long. But it is a short term replacement and only in the same form factor. The first QWERTY device from Vertu will be released in 2010. This will be a few models range named Quest, it will be based on Nokia E71/E72, the devices will have metal keyboards , the same titanium body, 3,5 mm headset jack (for the first time in Vertu). Different models will not be different devices the difference will be only in body performance. And the company is not going to rest on that, there will be a variety of different form factors and they will release new models faster. New companies that enter Vertus market segment (for example Tag Heuer and etc.) create competition and possibility for Vertu to expend its market presence. As the result the company will use this window of opportunity.

But let us return to the given product namely Vertu Ascent 2010. The device is designed in Vertu style, it has a titanium body (the model that costs 6500 Euro, I have this one, and do not think that I am vained of it, there is simply no other models yet). There will be cheap aluminum versions for 5500 Euro, but I did not like this device, it looks cheaper. In ergonomics it is a typical Vertu, there are no particular problems, it has a new battery cover solution with three pressure plates. The leather is good, metal surface is matte, looks like it will wear off as on the Comstellation models when they are actively used. Inside there is painfully familiar S40, which brings us to familiar problems and small faults. The device has 32 GB storage, but the menu says that only 2,9 GB are available. You should enter file explorer to see correct storage size. This is a software mistake. Also a software mistake is the volume level settings. I was amazed that the standard Sandpipe melody sounds unusual for Vertu. It seems clean but there is still something wrong. It is on perception level that you feel it. I deliberately took TI and Constellation devices and compared the sound of the same melody. There is a certain difference, it is heard during direct comparison. It is obvious that in the new model they overdid the speakers settings. The speakers are the same as in other models, it is heard during mp3 playback, but there is something wrong with the ringtones. I think it will be fixed in the nearest software update. The other fault is that you cannot transfer contacts from S60 devices for example Nokia N8, Nokia 6700 Slide to Vertu X, the device indicates an error. The same is with the large files transferred via Bluetooth 3.0, it fails to transfer 4-5 MB files. Perhaps these are all faults that I could find in the device. Not so many, but you would like to get maximum from such a model with the minimum of defects.

Personally I liked Ascent 2010 and I am sure that it will have rather good sales. It has everything for that, the device turned out to be moderately aggressive; design is inherited from previous models. It is a good phone to make calls and demonstrate your status. Though on the other hand, if you really want to show your status, you should buy models from the limited editions or more expensive models in the range.

Full review of Ascent 2010 will be published in few days.

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Samsung Galaxy S i9000 or is it worth writing a review?

It was in March that I shared my impressions of Galaxy S, those who do not remember, can read it here.

Quite frequently I am asked to tell about this device in detail, more over some say that there are some so-called reviews in the Internet. To my mind the problem is that for the time being there is no official software for the device. There will be a couple of different versions before it is officially released as well as the default set of programs can be changed. Those prototypes that people have today do not have final design, they are different from commercial devices (there is no curve in the lower body part in the final samples).

In Russia as in the majority of states it will be released in mid-July. Some countries will see the device one month earlier. But the update to Android 2.2 for this phone will be available only in mid-Summer. So is there a point in writing about it if something may change radically? I suggest that there are no problems in the device as such and it is possible to write about it. You can get general impression even today. In this dilemma I ask for your advice, what should I do best? It will be logical to add a part about the camera and description of some applications to the first article and call it the preliminary review. Should such material be published and announced on the main page remains a question for me as well. Give your advice and recommendations, your opinion is important as always.

As a small bonus I want to mention that Galaxy S is important for the Android market in another way. It is known that most people consider Marketplace to be the only place where you can get applications and assume that Google will protect its right for it at all costs. In other words it will not tolerate other similar applications by other companies. It suddenly appears that Samsung can install such applications; particularly the device has Samsung application and book stores. What is more amazing is that while discussing this issue one of companys top manager said that on the device you can use any search from any company. Google does not insist on the use of its search by default. The fact that everyone uses it today does not mean that there are any restrictions by Google. This remarkable discovery makes Android not only very open system but the system whose main advantage is the possibility to use any solutions available. This is namely what Samsung is doing. In this aspect both companies are following an understandable path, by not restricting users in choice of services. Admit that you did not know that Google is so flexible about Android? Or the reason is in antitrust legislation? I do not know but the fact remains, Google does not impose any one-sided terms on the hardware manufacturers.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

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Related links

Spillikins #66. Nokia admits losing leadership on the top smartphone market

Spillikins #67. Nokia Learned to Play Violin, but is Losing its Worth

Spillikins #68. Can Foxconn suicides be linked to Apple?

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Alexander Alatortsev (a.alatortsev@gmail.com)

Published — 01 June 2010

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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