Nokia is certainly rising to the challenge and seems to be on track to be a BMW to Apple’s Mercedes-Benz in the new “internet in your pocket” generation of mobile phones. Consider these key ingredients:
- Cinematic UX – Finally, someone has successfully xeroxed Apple’s Core Animation’s GPU + implicit animation model and who better than Nokia. The implicit animation model is key in making great UX with minimal pain and bugs. I suspect the UX polish is focused on the main “phone top” idle screen, but it’s a great showing.
- Web Browser – It’s WebKit and Nokia already has a decent port.
- Industrial design – N97’s form factor is great. Nokia is no slouch when it comes to ID, and they’re very close here. N97’s a fair amount thicker, but not too shabby.
- A twist – a physical keyboard and Flash + video support. Apple’s mobile web efforts have promise, but people sure do ask for Flash a lot.
But there are details that we won’t know until the N97 ships and are key to making sure Nokia doesn’t pull a “Prada”. Those are:
- Performance – Touch interfaces need to have minimal to no latency. Graphics needs to be fast, and I have no doubt a GPU is sitting in that N97. Hopefully S60 5th Edition is up to speed here.
- Software Ecosystem – Will Nokia provide an app store? Will there be refinements to S60 to let 3rd party developers finally make great apps? And can these developers make money? Nokia certainly is integrating with partners on the social networking front. But …
- Nokia Maps? – Well, I’m certainly skeptical of Nokia’s ability to out innovate Google on mapping technology, but I wish them the best of luck. Competition is always good, and I hope Nokia finds the game changer in building their own mapping service.
I have two closing thoughts for now – 1) MacWorld is in January. I can’t wait to see that Apple tablet. 2) Finally, a new “internet communicator” with potential… though it hasn’t shipped yet.
2009 is going to be an interesting year.