Nokia RANT: Response to Ovum's "Report" on Nokia's 'failures'.

| March 11, 2010 | 21 Replies
N900 vs X6 vs N97 (7)

N900 vs X6 vs N97

Hmm, I doubt anyone will read this but I couldn’t sleep (trying to finish off some presentations…meh, they want us to use OHP :[) and seeing these “reports” circulated got me kinda worked up.

I haven’t made a proper Nokia rant in a while. Nokia’s been churning a lot of awesome sauce since N900 (Free Ovi Maps Navigation, Increased Q4 profits/market share, MeeGo, Qt, Symbian^3/4, Improved S60V5 Ovi Store, and generally other N900 related things). Check out this article from Mobile Industry Review: Nokia is back and beginning to rock

I read digitime’s take on Ovum’s “report” yesterday morning but ignored it as nonsense Nokia bashing bandwagon. But I’m seeing more sources passing off “reports”, e.g. V3 which have NO backing other than passing of “he said, she said”

Now I like ranting against Nokia and I’ll be the first to jump on Nokia bashing bandwagons – BUT only when it’s warranted. Let’s take the N97 as it’s such an easy shot.

  • Nokia made huge mistake in not giving N97 more RAM. Huge failure. Ignore the numbers of 128MB ram, at startup you get around what – 40MB if you’re lucky?
  • N97 should have been at least on 500MHz just for the sake of longevity (ideally the expected 600MHz). i.e. it was ok for use for a month of release but felt out dated soon after, and gets so much more painful to use when ever you try out faster competitors.
  • N97 perhaps should have had a capacitive screen. I know there are those that are happy with resistive. I personally prefer the feather touch sensitivity that capacitive offers and don’t mind the frequently mentioned trade offs.
  • N97 was bestowed with a miniscule amount of C: memory. 32GB memory but around 50MB for app installation. A few firmwares kinda sorted it out whereby any installating to E: no longer phantomly depleted C:.
  • N97 has appalling quality control – batches weren’t all manufactured at the same standard.
  • Symbian^1 and it’s awful bugginess, lacklustre appeal – seemingly S60 3rd edition with touch screen, i.e. no  touch optimization was the biggest culprit to anyone’s frustrations with the N97. It has taken half a year and several firmware upgrades to get it to a relatively usable point. This was one of the major reasons O2 CPW ceased selling the N97 due to huge returns – same fate temporarily faced with the Symbian friendly Satio.
  • There’s more but this post isn’t about bashing the N97, just an example to show I like you are very much aware of its faults and I’m not blindly singing Nokia’s praises.

Like I said, I don’t mind if Nokia’s bashed when it’s warranted. I maybe disappointed of Nokia but in cases like the points above, Nokia are indefensible so writers are just reporting it like they see it. It’s a warranted “attack”. But in this case it is not. Let’s take a look at what Ovum (and via V3/digitimes) says about Nokia’s failings.

  1. “Nokia’s current smartphones, including the flagship N97 and N97 mini, run on ARM11 below 500MHz with an anaemic 128MB of RAM, a point that most other platforms have abandoned”

OK. Great. Ovum and co are fine with pointing out the lower specs but ignore publishing N900’s the ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support, 256 MB RAM, 768 MB virtual memory. Note how all sources that will mention this report by Ovum will easily brush this off, see point 2.

1.5 “Nokia’s flagship hardware is underpowered compared to rivals…”

Nokia’s biggest failure is continuing to market the N97 as the flagship. The N900 spins rings around the N97 and most of its competitors. Have you seen how well the N900 multitasks and surfs the entire web with flash?

Everyone knows the Maemo 5 pocket computer is the flagship, whether or not Nokia admit it. Nokia themselves confessed the failures of the N97. I always felt it was some sort of interim solution to keep some attention on Nokia ( i.e. not focus too much resources because something better on the horizon – aka N900) but it has been more detrimental due to poor consumer experiences.

That’s what I hate most about the N97 is that it hyped up so much, promised too many things but not only did not deliver, it contained frustrating faults that you’d be annoyed to see in 2007 let alone 2009. e.g. the constant need for hard reset. (now fixed for me but still affects a lot of users)

Plus, it is not all about hardware specification (even Ovum say it’s not all about clock speed despite the vibe of the article implying otherwise). I can’t find the benchmark tests webpost but the N900 on “only” 600MHz was performing extremely closely to Nexus One’s 1Ghz in rendering web pages. In terms of general UI navigation, iPhone 3G with 412Mhz (less than N97’s 434MHz) is arguably snappier with more appealing UI.

It’s not about numbers. Windows Mobile for quite a while NEEDED much higher spec’d hardware than Symbian as it was resource hungry.

“pound for pound” Nokia handsets can do a lot more with the given hardware. Software wise, Nokia’s have a lot more inbuilt features that I’m surprised competitors have to achieve by 3rd party apps or hacking their phone or waiting 2 years for an update *cough, copy paste, video*.

2. The N900 is the only Nokia handset to use a next-generation chipset, which Renowden described as “surprising” and potentially harmful to the firm’s market share.

Apple only has ONE phone using the next generation chip set. But of course, that doesn’t matter.  As much as I’d like Nokia to SPAM us with high end smartphones like HTC, history says that with Nokia they CANNOT be too hasty. HTC (and Moto) can afford to churn out Android devices one after another as they’re not actively developing the OS, Google is. Maemo (now MeeGo) and Symbian is very much continuing publicly to be a work in progress. Despite the N97 taking 6/7 months after announcement to appear, it still was, a rushed handset.

Nokia have a vast range of smartphones of which a huge proportion cater for the Mid-low end, yet are still smartphones.  E.G. 5230 with ARM 11, 434 MHz. So proportion wise, it seems confusing that the N900 perhaps is the sole handset with next gen chipset. Perhaps the X6 should have been on it too, but that’s another post.

3. “Another area where Nokia is struggling is screen resolution and technology. Of the 20 handsets with highest screen resolution, Nokia has just one – again, the N900”

A slower processor or poor touch-screen resolution affects users’ experiences of devices,

Phones of 2009

  • N900 800×480
  • N97 640X360
  • N97 mini 640 x 360
  • X6 640×360
  • 5530 640×360
  • 5800 640×360
  • 5230 640×360
  • HTC Hero 320×480
  • iPhone 3GS 320×480
  • Palm Pre 320×480

Excuse me, what’s this about Nokia’s poor screen resolution? The N900 is double the iPhone. Yes that’s one. Then there’s the N97, N97 mini, X6, 5530, etc. which are all still higher resolution.

And exactly what is this “highest screen resolution”? 800X480 isn’t the highest anyway available on smartphones today. This is just another blatant smear to paint Nokia as failing.

Please. There are actual places where you could have taken genuine shots at Nokia and I would have sung along with you, but his is just blatant misinformation.

4″A slower processor or poor touch-screen resolution affects users’ experiences of devices,”

Actually, ideally if you had a slower processor, you’d also want a lower screen resolution. The N97 probably would have been faster if it dealt with the lesser 320×480.

Most possibly, it’s to do with being RESISTIVE rather than CAPACITIVE (which the X6 already supports).

How can the Nokia touch phones be criticised on screen resolution when it has higher resolution than the Jebus phone?

Renowden added that the launch of Symbian^3 around the middle of the year could see Nokia announce several new products, but that until then the firm is caught between two stools.

“If Nokia announces new products in the coming months it could hurt sales of devices already on the market. However, due to the lack of announcements, people are wondering what the company has in the pipeline,” he said.

I don’t know what Nokia’s really got coming. Rumoured handsets (N98/N8) have some really enticing specs. The Symbian Roadmap points to tons of good things on Symbian’s future in terms of upcoming hardware to be utilized, such as multiple core processors.

Nokia has mentioned they will be cutting down on number of devices released to focus on some really excellent handsets instead of several diluted and dud ones.

I’d prefer Nokia to take their time and get their new flagship right than rush it and just disappoint everyone, most of all their fans.

The extract of Ovum’s report is available here

and it is the only major manufacturer still producing multiple smartphones in the candy bar/numeric keypad form factor.

And it is the only major phone manufacturer that’s number one in sales and market share? Why? Because of these multiple smarphones in candy bar/numeric keypad (and other factors). Some people just want a cheap phone, with a standard keypad. Because Nokia can accomplish it, that phone just happens to be a smartphone too! e.g. C5

And so what if there’s more than one alphanumeric smartphone from Nokia? If we talk this time on proportion, Nokia’s projected to continue increasing Touch, Touch Qwerty and QWERTY smartphones. Nokia already have 8 touch screen phones (not counting special editions), 7 symbian, and one Maemo.

The real issue maybe Nokia’s immediate ability to respond. They’re a big ship. The biggest one out there and it’s taking a while to make that U-turn. But they’ll definitely do it. The real unknown is whether Nokia will still be sailing in the same waters or if the game has shifted yet again.

It seems to win the next game, it’s not about being the best player, it’s changing the rules so that you’re the only one who scores points.


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Category: Nokia, Nseries, Rant

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]