(Not) Connecting (with) people!
Don’t we all remember the famous tag line of Nokia “Connecting People”. Those were the good ol’ days. Back then Nokia was really developing the Symbian S60 (as it was know back then). So many apps were being developed and functionalities being added that S60 became the OS to use when one was buying a phone. I remember when I was in college if you had a expensive Nokia (S60 version) you were considered cool and all those things that go along with it.
Then came the time when Nokia started stressing on “Its what computers have become”. That in many ways signaled the beginning of the downfall of S60. From then on its seems as though development of the OS slowed down tremendously. Very little came out from S60 people in terms of development. In fact, I think these have been the highlights…
1. S60 3rd edition: Almost like moving from Windows 98 to Windows 2000.
2. FP1: Bug fixes and security concerns being addressed.
3. E90 (phone): The E90 gets the S60.
4. FP2: Transitions and perhaps more???
In between these 4 milestones there were few smaller ones like the Active Standby screen, Search, the Shortcut button.
Apart from this nothing really has come out of S60. And with Nokia shifting to become an “Internet Company” I don’t see any further innovation and development of the S60. The other OS developers have clearly caught up with S60 in terms of features and capabilities. When in-house ‘dumb phone’ OSes can do what S60 does, its time to start worrying. It is surprising to see that S60 and even Nokia have not woken up to the fact that the definition of a ‘smart-phone’ has drastically changed. Today just because S60 can open an Office document and because it can run multiple applications does not mean it is a ‘smart’ OS. No, the rules have changed! You need to be able to do more than what you were able to do a couple of years ago.
Phones have moved ahead in terms of hardware, wifi chips, graphic chips, audio chips and what not.
By developing software to handle the hardware does not mean the OS has moved ahead. How much have you been able to simplify the way it(hardware) operates? Let me give you an instance, whenever I use the WLAN wizard to search for a ‘hotspot’ to connect to the net, it seems as if I am pulling so many levers and it really pisses me off, so much so, that I prefer not use it even when I can. my friend who has the iPhone, on the other hand does it so effortlessly that it makes me jealous! By the time I am connected to the wifi network, he has already opened his browser and is surfing.
This is just one of the many instances. There are many more. I am sure they know it too.If phones have really become computers why do I feel like I am better off carrying a laptop??? Why do I feel like carrying a huge burden on my shoulder when I know that my phone could do most of those things? Simple because the time it takes to do it those tasks on a phone defies the purpose of having that feature!
Lets also look at the biggest chink in the S60′s armor, its interface. The user interface has really not moved ahead. I used to disagree with people when they said it because I thought that by adding a few new icons you could make things more refreshing. Today when I look at my phone I wish I could do something more with the way it looked. I want an interface that is lively and customizable and also simple to use. Just by allowing people to change the appearance by changing the menu view, installing themes is not enough any more. I must honestly say this that I am thoroughly bored of S60, simply because there isn’t enough to do on it. Why can’t anybody customize their phone visually beyond a theme and font size? Oh and now we have transitions, which are existent in only FP2 devices and in one FP1 device- N81. If this is what computers have become, then let me tell you S60 and Nokia that you guys are thoroughly mistaken!
What Nokia and S60 have failed to see is how iPhone has changed the game when it comes to browsers.I agree that iPhone does not offer Flash support and what not. But it is so much simpler and more flexible, and so friendly to use. With the Android also hitting the stores soon with the Chrome in some avataar, I wonder what Nokia will do to stay ahead in the game!
One more threat that they seem to have not guaged properly is the MiniPC segment. With almost every manufacturer jumping onto the bandwagon offering smaller laptops to do ones daily computing, its a matter of time when they cannibalize the smart-phone segment. With XP being bundled and even variants of Linux on these MiniPCs, it is merely a matter of time before Microsoft and LiMo start offering similar experiences on phones. How ready is S60 and Nokia for that possibility?
Its high time Nokia and S60 realize their folly and start “Connecting (with) people”. On a personal note, I would like to make it clear that I have faith in the OS despite the fact I am bored of it. It is a strong and robust system. I am confident that Nokia and S60 will realize the situation they are currently in and correct it. With Samsung and to an extent LG also releasing S60 enabled handsets, there is bound to be some sort of jumpstart in development activities. I hope that S60 is also open to suggestions as it is to features.