Published Dawn Lifestyles Supplement, Nov 20th, 2009
Mobile phones already empower people to readily connect to others and things they care for the most, enabling the freedom and excitement of the connected lifestyle, where communication & sharing is instantaneous, entertainment options abounds & power is in the palm of your hands. The new mobile phones launched this year promise to build upon this even more, with ever greater integration into our lifestyle and technology that revolves around our every need, fitting our life like a glove. Which features are right for you? Take a look.
For The Fashion Divo & Diva
Mobile phones have now become every part the fashion accessory perhaps even more than jewelry, watches or shoes. This is why mobile phone manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice of the desire for style to match substance and why some of the world’s leading fashion and design houses have added an extra level of class to the phones this year.
After delighting the fashion world with the Giorgio Armani phone in 2007 and the Emporio Armani “Night Effect” in 2008,
Armani has fashionistas in a tizzy looking out for the Samsung Giorgio Armani B7620, a latest by the famous house. Designed by GiorgioArmani himself, the phone features a side-sliding QWERTY keyboard and a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen which utilizes AMOLED technology. Additional features include a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, GPS, 8GB of internal storage space and a microSD slot (supporting cards of up to 32GB in size). It’s only available at selected outlets and if you find it, expect to pay in excess of Rs. 90,000 for the phone. Have we commented how lovely it looks with those Armani Suits.
For mere mortals, looking for style without having to amputate a kidney however, look to the Nokia SuperNova line of fashion phones and stylish accessories like red & pink covers and bluetooth headsets. The 7310 (Rs. 11,200), 7510 (Rs. 14,200) and 7610 (Rs. 15,300) feature good looks and exchangeable covers with mirror finishes to the screen, very handy for lipgloss lovers. The star of the series the 7610, is a slider which matches your mood and never misses a beat, gliding effortlessly into clutch bags. It also sports a decent 3.0 mega pixel camera and 2 GB space for your music.
Also perfect for fashion-forward customers, Jabra accessories are all the rage and if you’d like something special, try the Sennheiser VMX 100 Headset (Rs. 7500).
For The Social Butterflies
Most of us now view our cell phones as the key to our social life. Take it away and it feels as if the threads connecting our social life have been cut or at least worsened substantially. This is the reason is why companies spend so much money on catering to the continuously connected consumer lifestyles.
One of the best phones to incorporate a complete set of messaging features includes RIM Blackberry Curve 8520 aka Gemini(Rs.25,000). A full QWERTY keyboard makes typing and sending messages easy and comfortable, whilst the bright screen displays over 65,000 colors, providing a great viewing experience. With BlackBerry App World, you can also get breaking news and the latest scores, stay on top of Hollywood gossip, enjoy live radio or just play games. The phone also allows you to take photos or videos and upload them to photo sharing sites like Flickr or social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace . You can also send these to friends through MMS, the BlackBerry Messenger or other instant messaging apps. The same features can be found in other messaging phones like the Nokia N97 (Rs. 50,000) but at a much higher price.
For turning heads, look to the Samsung Star (Rs. 14000) also known as the poor man’s iPhone, which offers a 3″ WQVGA touchscreen with Samsung’s widget-enabled TouchWiz and a 3 megapixel camera with smile detection. It can handle microSD cards up to 16GB and with DNSe technology it’s a music player in its own right. The document viewer doesn’t hurt either. Samsung’s announced a WLAN version of the phone which will be available soon too. Nokia’s tried to answer Samsung’s Challenge with the 5530 Xpress Music but at a much higher price.
For The Technophiles
Photography, music and internet are so 2008. Now there is a need for something revolutionary, that caters to the fact that the cell phone is becoming our new form of entertainment provider with both gaming and watching videos being on the rise on the phone and natural linguistic interfaces.
There are many phones which are aiming for taking the innovation lead in the mobile world especially the Samsung Omnia HD (i8910) (Rs. 55,000) with its 3.7″ OLED capacitive full touchscreen, 600 MHz ARM Processor, an 8 megapixel camera that should be able to humble even some digicams and of course the HD video recording in 720p – does it really get any sweeter. There’s also Samsung Jet with its 800 MHz processor.
However, even then our heart still beats faster by the iPhone 3GS, which is still smoother, faster, and more reliable than any of the phones out there. The phone features faster performance than its predecessor iPhone 3G, a video camera, voice control, and GPS maps with compass. Apple this time has supercharged the CPU, jacking up the processor numbers from 412MHz to 600MHz,doubled RAM from 128MB to 256MB and has swapped out the previous graphics chip for a new version — dubbed the PowerVR SGX — which adds support for more robust visuals via OpenGL ES 2.0. The 16GB version of this sweetheart is priced at Rs. 65,000.
However for a more price-performance value equation phone, nothing beats the more powerful version of the N95, the Nokia N86 (Rs. 39,000). The phone is fully loaded, featuring an 8-megapixel camera that takes excellent pictures and include advanced options, such as a wide-angle lens and variable aperture. It’s also a capable smartphone and offers Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G support along with entertainment options whilst delivering on quality. A must-mention in this category is also LG’s Renoir (Rs. 34,500). This touch screen phone, features a super-sharp 8 megapixel camera with a list of features which are only found on extremely high-end standalone cameras, such as Schneider-Kreuznach certified optics, a Xenon flash, auto and manual focus, sensitivity up to ISO 1600 and geo-tagging.
For The Professional Lifestyle
Gone are the days of traditional office workers tied to their desktop PCs, ready to clock in their typical eight-hour workdays. Now the shift from the predominantly deskbound workforces to enterprises full of roving employees is a budding reality and phone makers have launched phones catering to these knowledge workers.
At the extreme end of this category are the HTC Touch PRO (Rs. 64,900) and HTC Touch HD (Rs. 71,000) phones. The HTC Touch Pro line brings together elegant touch screen response with the direct precision of keyboard entry, delivering a powerhouse communication tool in a beautiful, compact design. Both phones feature HTC’s rich, touch-responsive interface, TouchFLO™ 3D, which provides a stunningly intuitive way to zip through common tasks like messaging, calendar checks or making calls.
The 2.8-inch VGA touch screen in PRO provides four times the resolution of most smart devices, making email, documents and web pages sharper and easier to work with than ever before, whilst the Pro HD version sports a 3.8” WVGA screen on which you can enjoy music videos, films and streaming like you never thought possible on a mobile device.
For most professionals however, RIM’s Blackberry range of phones especially the Bold & Pearl are still where it’s at. At the lower end, Nokia’s line of Enterprise Edition phones such at the E75 and the E62 are also worth looking into.
So far the iPhone’s charisma still lingers, making it the no.1 device of the decade, whilst on the technology side Google and Apple battle it out for the no. 1 position with Microsoft a distant 3rd. Nokia is nowhere to be seen at 1%.
What do you think? Which are the best technologies and platforms in our part of the world since the year 2000? Going by popularity and number of people affected, my vote would be Facebook as a platform and Nokia as a technology company, though given Microsoft has introduced a lot of innovative services for our market including Microsoft Dynamics (their ERP solution), i’d be torn between the two. There’s also no Intel in the survey otherwise I would have chosen them for Pakistan. Their new Core i5 chip promises to bring a revolution in gaming and productivity tasks at a price point that’s just so sweet. Core i7 is still the fastest processor around, at least until they launch Core i9.
Nokia’s launched it’s budget line of smart-phones with the 5230 Xpress Music phone in Pakistan on Wednesday, 5th of November, 2009. Following are its specifications:
3.2 inch touch screen display with full-screen QWERTY keyboard and handwriting recognition
A-GPS navigation and the latest version of Ovi Maps
Memory expandable up to 16GB via a microSD card
33 hours of music playback time
Bluetooth 2.0 and a 3.5mm AV connector
Like the 5800 XM, it runs on S60 5th Edition and therefore is touch-enabled. It also means that you get access to the same GUI, with a Media Bar with quick access to your favorite media and applications, such as music, photos. The Contacts bar features thumbnail images for up to 20 close friends and provides easy access to them and their communications history including emails, phone calls, photos or other social media updates. It’s priced between 8000 PKR to 12000 PKR.
It was also announced at the launch that the X6, Nokia’s new, top of the range, Xseries mobile phone, will also be launched into the market soon and that along with it, Nokia is trying to launch the ‘Comes With Music’ platform in Pakistan too. The X6 phone was announced by Nokia around two months ago and is likely to cost around the 50,000 PKR price point. Nokia’s broken away from its brick form factors and used a long chassis for the X6 which now (thankfully) supports a healthy
capacitive 16:9 aspect ratio display, measuring 3.2in along with a built in 5-megapixel camera complete with a Carl Zeiss lens plus a dual LED flash. The built in memory – 32GB, while other features include a TV-out socket, A-GPS, a web browser and support for Flash Lite.
Nokia’s Head Of Marketing For Live Platform, Cristophe Corsi was also present and gave Nokia’s understanding of the new multimedia platforms that are being enabled due to the digital revolution, though how it’s different from Apple’s Strategy & platform, still beats me. They also have a ‘Music Manager’ (erm!…like ITunes) in place complete with DRM.
Nokia recently posted its Q3 2009 results and to say they’re disturbing would be a gross understatement. While net sales and operating profit didn’t fare well being down 1% and 4.4% from the previous quarter, the real startling figure is how Nokia is doing now compared to the same time last year. With a net loss of some 559€mm ($833.9mm USD) and sales tallying 9.8€bb ($14.62bb USD), YoY net sales were down 19.8% while operating profit plummeted a jaw dropping 57.8%.
Last year too in the smartphone category,in Q4 2008, Nokia’s smartphone sales had dipped a whopping 17 percent to 15.6 million units. As always, one company’s loss is another’s gain and no two companies highlighted this fact more than more than RIM and Apple. Both more or less doubled their smartphone market share, which than stood at 19.5 percent and 10.7 percent respectively. Apart from the big three, sales of HTC devices were then up 20 percent while Samsung saw its sales increase by an amazing 138 percent to 1.6 million units. Still, they each only commanded modest stake in the smartphone market at 4.3 percent and 1.8 percent respectively at the time.
This year, In terms of market share, Nokia neither lost nor gained ground having managed to hang on to its estimated 38% market share despite pushing approximately 108.5 million devices. Still, this does not change the fact that Nokia’s handset sales are down 8% as the world’s consumers focused their attention on devices made by other manufacturers.
The biggest gainer overall this year…Apple. Its financial results for the fourth quarter 2009, have beat out the predictions. This quarter has seen Apple hit its best results in the history of the company, boasting a rather hefty $1.67 billion profit. The results, found here, show that Apple managed just short of $10 billion in revenue, at a total of $9.87 billion. Apple sold 3.05 million computers during the quarter, giving it a 17 percent unit increase over the previous Q4 results. Additionally, the company sold 10.2 million iPods and 7.4 million iPhones, representing an eight percent unit decline and a seven percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter, respectively. Even LG’s managed better. Now with Palm’s amazing Pre and Android taking over almost all manufacturers, will Nokia will go the same way as Motorola especially since their initiative to make Symbian OpenSource has thus far proven ineffective?
This was the reverie I was in whilst at the launch of the new Nokia E72 Handset at Karachi, Sheraton today. Anyway, first the formalities:
Built on S60 3rd Edition FP2, the Nokia E72 is optimized for messaging and e-mail with a full messaging keyboard and support for EGPRS, WCDMA, HSDPA/HSUPA (3.5G) and WLAN. The device features two customizable Home Screen modes, active noice cancellation and a 5 Mpix autofocus camera. You can write messages with intelligent text input, enjoy videos, music, and graphics on the 2.36” QVGA display. Additional features include GPS and Nokia Maps 3.0, UPnP, Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR, and USB 2.0 High-Speed.
About Nokia E72
The E72 builds on the formula from the hugely successful Nokia E71, Nokia’s best selling QWERTY device to date. This latest arrival in Nokia’s Eseries family maintains essential elements of its predecessor, whilst still improving its capabilities in a number of areas.
“Despite the outstanding market performance of the Nokia E71, we still continually look for ways to enhance the device,” said Trude Gajland, Category Head Nokia Eseries, MEA. “So we included the desktop like email experience from the Nokia E75 and gave it a new optical navigation key for more intuitive scrolling through menus, emails and fast panning of images. We also upgraded the camera to 5 megapixels and added a standard 3.5 mm audio jack.”
On top of these developments, for the first time, owners will be able to set up instant messaging (IM) accounts provided by Nokia Messaging direct from the homescreen. In just a few steps, device owners will be able to connect to their favorite IM accounts such as Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and Ovi, amongst many others.
These new IM features are complimented by Nokia’s range of email solutions with a lifetime license for Nokia’s mobile email and IM service, Nokia Messaging, as well as onboard clients for Mail for Exchange and IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. Accessing popular accounts such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail, Ovi Mail and thousands of other email service providers is simple through improved on-device email setup, with the same easy to use UI integrating all of the owner’s corporate email accounts as well.
Other notable features which have been included in the Nokia E72 include A-GPS and compass with integrated Maps, including lifetime walk and 10 days of turn-by-turn navigation if activated within the first three months. Conversations are also clearer with active noise cancellation, and a torch can be activated with a single press of the spacebar key. The office capabilities have been updated with a new version of Quickoffice, which delivers Microsoft Office 2007 compatibility as well as free version upgrades when new features become available.
For further information, the RAM is 256 MB and the processor is clocked up to 600mhz but it is still an arm 11. Finally Nokia arrives to the 600 Mhz category and even then half-heartedly. Whew! Now let’s review what I think of the launch.
According to the Imran Khaild, GM Nokia, Nokia is not trying to displace the 25000 or so Blackberry users in Pakistan. Instead Nokia wants to use a 40,000 PKR phone to cater to the ‘Consumer Market’ as well as the ‘Corporate’……
Correct me if i’m wrong here. It’s one thing that Nokia’s having trouble penetrating the Pakistani corporate market (and even international i’m supposing) due to international policies, IT Policies and the first mover advantage by BB with the Pakistani telecoms. However, the belief that the E-series can cater to a consumer market requires serious re-thinking. In a world dominated by affluent teens and young adults who thrive on IMs, SMS and increasingly social networks on their phone (incidentally Facebook App on Nokia is the worst i’ve used) are being targetted via a 30 year old technology whose behavior requires that a person think
and reply in a more fuller answer than 160 characters. Not the behavior observed in our youth.There’s also a reason why though 300 million people have tried mobile email, only 10% have retained their accounts there (source: Gartner). Mobile behavior is just not conducive towards email messaging beyond short messages and reading. Yet Nokia believes it can cater to the 80% of the people who still don’t have email accounts when they (the people) have already jumped to technologies like SNN and SMS for most of their needs. Anyways, let’s see if this strategy would work.
The other thing observed at the launch was regarding the nature of the questions and general discussion over lunch. The most popular questions asked at the launch were direct comparisons to the iPhone or its features especially touch (to which Imran replied they want to produce touch for the mass market than an elite market…..). This reminded me about Apple’s recent stunt. In a question as to how Apple viewed its increased competition for the iPhone, Apple COO Tim Cook said “they’re still catching up with the first iPhone”. Nokia… you just cannot do Touch. Touch is a nightmare on Symbian, no matter how cheap it is. I’ve used both the 5800 XM and a 5530 XM in my lifetime and neither gets marks for ease of use or accessibility. Both still require a stylus to use properly.
One of the FAQs often thrown at Nokia’s events is regarding number of iPhone Apps vs. number of Nokia’s Apps. Nokia’s answer usually is that we have countless apps and thus more than Apple. However, that is side stepping the issue very neatly. Apple just crossed the 100,000 Apps for ONE PHONE only. Nokia’s apps are spread over so many series and models, that none of the phones probably has more than 10,000 at best. I counted around 4000 for my Nokia 5730 on http://www.getjar.com.
Also If i were the brand manager at Nokia, i’d be getting serious nightmares. Instead of one of my phones being the benchmark / standard in the industry (e.g. N72 vs. Nokia 97) or even the current E72 phone being launched thought cool enough to define a new standard, i’m nowhere in the tech leader’s category. Instead for free my main competitor is gaining publicity at my expense. Though the questions were handled very deftly (full marks to Imran), it just shows that people belief that Nokia’s losing its technology lead to its competitors. Even during lunch the general conversation centered around a lot of topics but what was launched.
Now I agree completely that most of the sales for Nokia comes from mid-low end phones especially in the sub-continental and Chinese markets. Unlike the west also, we simply can’t afford iPhones or most smart-phones. We pay full price for ‘Unlocked’ phones rather than having them subsidized through telecom packages, thus Nokia’s offerings really makes sense in our price conscious markets. However, does the strategy of keep pumping out so called “new models” with minor differences (e.g. 6303, N95, N86, 7310, 7510 etc…) really work? Do potential customers of these phones really care if the cam has been “upgraded” or not? If sales are increasing whilst profit is shrinking, so does it still make sense to keep pumping out so called “new models” constantly? More importantly when YOY the sales results are showing that the strategy is not working, why is the strategy not being changed.
In marketing, we have a saying that ‘Less Is More’. Yet Nokia is increasingly trying to ‘cater to all markets’ and segments, not noticing that these are not the markets of a decade ago. GM had the same problem with low end Japanese imports (Chinese mobiles anyone) and premium brands and tried to get out of the situation then by launching Saturn.
Fundamentally, there are two ways to increase sales: (1) Expand the brand, or (2) Expand the brand’s market share.
Most companies focus on the first way, expanding the brand. While this might seem to work in the short term, expanding the brand will eventually weaken the brand and leave it in worse shape than before the process began. While it’s more difficult to expand a brand’s market share, this is the better way to go. The larger the market share, the more powerful a brand becomes. When a brand reaches 50 percent or more market share, it becomes so dominant that it is almost impossible for a competitor to overtake.
Perception dictates reality. Does Starbucks coffee tastes better because the consumer thinks it tastes better or is it really better?
The larger the market share, the more dominant the brand, the greater effect the brand has on the consumer’s perception of reality. All candy bars are pretty much alike, because no one brand dominates the category. Every one percent increase in a brand’s market share does two things, both favorable. One, it increases the power of the brand in the mind of the consumer and two, it decreases the power of competitive brands.
The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign should be to dominate the brand’s category so the brand itself becomes a generic name for the category.
Which brings up the sad saga of Saturn.
Here is a brand introduced by GM less than 20 years ago in a highly competitive category. In 1994, just four years after its introduction, Saturn hit its high-water mark, selling 286,003 cars. That year, the average Saturn dealer sold more vehicles than the average of any other brand. That was the year the Saturn spirit was in full bloom. That was the year 44,000 owners and families attended a ‘homecoming’ at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. So what did Saturn do next? Did it try to expand its market share? Or did it try to expand the Saturn brand into larger and more expensive vehicles? You’re right. Expand the brand.
A typical quote from that year: ‘Many analysts feel that Saturn will eventually need a bigger model to retain customers as they older and more affluent’, reported The Wall Street Journal in its June 17, 1994 issue. In the February 9, 1998 issue of Automotive News, Ron Zarella, then vice president of GM’s North American sales, service and marketing, was quoted as saying, We’re doing everything we can to get them a wider product range. In the March 9, 1998 issue of Automotive News, Charles Child, news editor, said: GM has to bite the bullet and let Saturn spread its wings. That is, give Saturn a full line of cars and light trucks as soon as practical. In January 1999, Cynthia Trudell took over as head of Saturn and as you might expect, one of the first things she said was that Saturn is definitely looking for ways to expand the portfolio. (Ms. Trudell was the first woman to head a car division at any domestic or foreign auto maker.) Two years later, Ms. Trudell was gone and Annette Clayton took over. The strategy didn’t change, however. My focus for the immediate future, said Ms. Clayton, is to prepare us for the SUV launch and to position us to grow the portfolio. The larger Saturn (the S series) was introduced in 1999. The sport-utility vehicle (the Vue) in 2002 and a replacement for the original Saturn (the Ion), also in 2002. When Bob Lutz arrived at GM as vice chairman responsible for product development, he sounded the same tune. In the December 13, 2004 issue of Fortune, he was quoted as saying: We’re investing in Saturn’s future because the inherent health of the brand is quite good. It just needs a bigger, more exciting product portfolio. Nothing helped. Saturn sales fluctuated over the years, but never reached the high-water mark of 1994. Then in 2004, in spite of the fact that Saturn dealers had three models to sell, as opposed to the original one, sales were only 212,017 units, down 26 percent from 1994. Average sales per dealer were only 483 units, half the level of a decade earlier.
The E-series is starting to sound like GM’s Saturn. In catering to the Corporate Category, Nokia’s losing its focus on the consumer markets (My Nokia 5730 does not sync with OVI Store and doesn’t work with OVI Suite 1.4 out of the box). Worse, it’s not even doing corporate well. There’s virtually no distinction between the different phones in the E-series. The hyped up Nokia-Seimens venture NSN is going the Nortel way. (Do read up on http://www.cn-c114.net/577/a452043.html). The technologies being deployed are starting to sound old. On the consumer smartphone front, Samsung Star has swept the market in our part of the world because of which Nokia’s launched a mega-campaign promoting the 5530 to contest it. Nokia Pakistan is also not bracing for the fact that operators are starting to bundle phones with their packages and whilst it’s going to be impossible to route Nokia from the low-end phones market in the immediate future (they make up over 80% of Nokia Pakistan’s Revenues), over time the sexier technologies being bundled with Chinese (TV anyone?????) and other OEMs manufacturer will create a dent in the market share as the category shifts from voice to other forms.
Granted there’s a huge difference between cars & phones and markets and times… however in my opinion Nokia is starting to sound the same tune. They’ve lost what made them Nokia in the first place ‘Connecting People’ and are trying to expand the brand into areas where it doesn’t belong using the same technologies over and over, pushing them to death in all their series until there’s virtually no differentiation – a death knell for the brand. Here’s an excerpt from their press release ‘… we make a wide range of devices for all major consumer segments and offer internet services that enable people to experience music, maps, media, messaging and games….’. Sounds like a serious lack of strategy. For what customers really think about their Flagship N97 check out http://www.intomobile.com/2009/10/27/video-dear-nokia-the-nokia-n97-blows-and-you-know-it.html. Toshiba’s recently announced that they’ll be mass producing a 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor for fones in Q3 2010. Compare that to the highest Nokia 8 megs.
With the new enterprise / corporate trends like cloud computing devices, Enterprise 2.0, android, Winmo 7 (i’m really excited about this one), mobility computing, social applications, HD on phones and so much more, where do we place Nokia’s products in the upcoming smarter world especially its E-series?
Net Result Published Dawn, Sci-tech, Jul 5th, 2009
Pakistan was recently host to two occurrences that herald an oncoming revolution in how we will compute and communicate with our world. One was the launch of the new line of HP MINI Netbooks (just recently announced in May at the ‘Touch the Future, Now’ conference in Beijing) which aim to bring in a new level of portability & operability to the Pakistani user. The other was the launch of the Nokia flagship Nokia N97 ‘Mobile Computer’. Both products are trying to satisfy the same need “to have something small, portable, and inexpensive (mostly) with you that is always connected” to the Internet.
Netbook PCs are miniature versions of notebooks that keep cost to a minimum. The new ones come with 10.1 inch screens, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB HD and enough power to hit a sweet spot for both consumer and business users. Their main attraction is their low price (less than PKR 30,000), followed by full QWERTY keyboards that approach (if not quite match) standard laptop arrangements, whilst their portability and ability to run most common applications mean that many people can leave a heavier notebook behind.
On the other hand, Smartphones, defined as phones which run complete operating system software and provide a standardized interface and platform, have offered mobile office applications for years including tasks such as document editing, e-mail, and web browsing. These now promise to usher in an era of mass-personalization, adjusting to the world around us, helping stay us consistently connected to the people and things that matter most.
The battle for the supremacy of being the new client-side interface to the web thus begins soon as netbooks and smartphones start replacing traditional PCs in homes and offices. Here let us the clarify what’s the fuss about towards becoming the most popular device to connect to the net – the device with the highest number of users will attract application developers from both consumer & business segments, gaming companies, advertising revenue, entertainment content, data pipes, etc. It will thus create the digital ecosystem around which we will work, live and play and massive markets & revenues for the companies which own these devices.
This however is not an easy task. The Pakistani data market is still in infancy stages. We have less than 300,000 broadband connections, whilst on the mobile side, voice still accounts for over 92% of the revenues of local mobile operators and data services are currently growing at only 2% per year. Combine this with low literacy, lack of local content development, lack of broadband awareness campaigns, QOS levels and provision of low interest loans for purchase of computers and these affect the development of mobile computing in the country adversely. Even in face of these adversities however, desk-bound PCs stand to lose their dominance as the main access point for the net –fast, since all the trends point to a mobile environment dominating our part of the world and soon.
The first trend is the push by wireless broadband companies and mobile network operators. The WiMax companies hope to provide ubiquitous coverage throughout Pakistan as close as 2011, whilst a leading company is already thinking of adding net-books plans to their existing offerings, plunging the cost of a netbook further. Mobile carriers are also actively pushing for consumers to start using data plans, driving rates to as low as Rs. 500 per month for unlimited data usage.
Secondly as compared to the current total of 5 million PCs not all which are net enabled, there are around 5 million phones in Pakistan which are EDGE/GPRS enabled and these are growing at a brisk pace as income levels across Pakistan rise, whilst cost of hardware falls. Local operators are now expecting their revenues from data to grow, as the subscriber’s appetite for mobile based content has been increasing every year. Going beyond a ring tone, wallpaper, SMS or a theme, they are now on a look out for great content and applications. One challenge which currently restricts this from taking off however is the absence of standards.
Optimizing mobile applications for different OS and broad range of mobile devices with varying screen sizes and versions remains the biggest problem for both the mobile content developers and distributers. However, an upcoming step taken in this direction is the new Google’s Android platform that unites the players of mobile ecosystem such as wireless operators, handset manufacturers and developers all at one place. Android’s software stack will provide developers a complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and innovative applications for the mobile consumers. It’s noticing this trend that Nokia has made Symbian Open Source and hopes to counter Google’s influence in the manner.
Thirdly, SMEs, the over 1 million small companies in Pakistan, are starting to push the trend towards cloud and mobile computing, unlocking increases in productivity that a mobile revolution promises. These businesses desire the benefits of enterprise solutions to grow further, but simply can’t afford the custom-based solutions common to large companies because there aren’t enough users to spread the cost of developing proprietary apps. However, provide a smart-phone with a built in web-browser like ‘Opera’ to each of the employees and suddenly cost-effective mobile applications are very much possible for the sales force, field employees, in store employees, for fleet management purposes, finance, operations management and more. With the power of the full web available today and with business apps and web front-ends for ERP, CRM and other business critical systems on a mobile phone, the flexibility and the economies to propel Pakistani small businesses into the digital age are very much possible. Similarly, by deploying a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) technology — which runs the local machine’s desktop from a remote server – businesses can use a netbook for everything, including accessing content stored on other machines, thereby decreasing the costs of IT hardware and improving productivity no end.
Fourthly, we have seen the digital convergence in our country which is bringing together the separate worlds of audio, video, data and voice communication services, giving control of the entertainment and media content to the consumer. Already today (to a limited extent) we can access the services and content (e-mail, television) using different terminals over different types of networks. Thus the borders between fixed-line and wireless mobile networks are disappearing.
Looking five years out, with netbooks continuing to improve in quality with better graphics abilities, these will move towards true laptops in features whilst connected to faster data networks whilst smart phones dominating the landscape will marry the best features and capabilities of the computing and communications worlds, which will transform the user experience, bringing incredible changes to what we call our life.
The Nokia N97 has been announced in Pakistan together with the global launch in 75 countries. The N97 comes at a retail price of Rs. 58,000 only, much less than the expected Rs. 65,000 price point.
Despite all the ‘hype’ about this ‘Mobile Computer, the N97 isn’t a device that will trigger knee-jerk hysteria (we have seen all those cool features before in other phones… especially the Nokia 5800), but it does give you a sort of cool-headed excitement at the prospect of ushering in a new era of personalized mobile revolution in Pakistan, which the phone promises to bring – access to the internet, music, games and even maps for navigation can be fully customized according to the person’s location and individual likes & interests; this could be access to social networks, online videos, local weather updates or RSS feeds from favorite publications, putting the user in control of their online world.
Nokia’s saying however that the phone is not meant for technophiles (that’s what i over-heard anyway). People like us keep comparing it to the iPhone, Pre, G1, Blackberry storm, etc and since it’s a flagship phone expect capacitive screens, faster CPU than the E55, more on-board phone memory and the like. No! for Nokia, the N97 is meant for the other 97% of the population which doesn’t know how to install freeware applications, doesn’t know about Fring, Facebook applications or Google maps, etc. This basically means that for the N97, Nokia is targeting the upper income mature market in Pakistan who has a lot of money to spend, primarily uses voice only and want to show everyone that they’re rich and in the know. Well can’t argue with that. 🙂
For those who’d like to know, they’re calling it a mobile computer now because it can be upgraded and new components / software can be added in just like in your desktop. After having success by bundling small applications and games, Nokia is now actively engaging the developer community and I think it is from this initiative the concept of a mobile as a computer will really take off.
Anyways, the Nokia N97 comes with Ovi Store in Pakistan too and comes preloaded with ‘global applications’, so you’ll be able to pick up any apps you like, and unlike with the iPhone, it’s not a walled garden, so you can get your programs from wherever you like online.
Photos: At the Nokia event, held at Karachi Mariott, two European models brought the phone to the venue and the Finnish First Secretary, H.E.Miia handed over the phone to the GM Nokia.
Now though i’m waiting for the N86 to be announced in Pakistan soon. It was announced back at Mobile World Congress in February and is Nokia’s first 8 megapixel cameraphone, and while it’s late to the party (Samsung and Sony Ericsson are moving on to 12MP), the Carl Zeiss optics should keep quality high (i personally loved the N82 and N85 both) and the HSDPA and Wi-Fi will let you get on the web at speed, and there’s GPS to guide you around like any self-respecting smartphone should. Now that’s something I actually want…
I was one of the people who was invited at the sneak preview of the Nokia N97, held at Kamameshi (TSB) in Karachi on Friday and found it to be a really exciting experience as it heralds what’s coming now for the mobile space in Pakistan. You can read a wonderful coverage of it at http://senseapplied.com/index.php/nokia-n97-sneak-preview-karachi/. Now onwards.
Nokia Pakistan aims to usher in the era of the personal Internet with the Nokia N97. The device itself is simply part of the miniaturization trend that’s been occurring since the early days of computing from mainframe to the desktop to the laptop and now to your pocket. With each iteration, however, it gets more powerful than ever.
Dubbed the world’s most advanced mobile computer, the N97 aims to transform the way people connect to the Internet and to each other. Designed for the needs of Internet-savvy consumers, the Nokia N97 combines a large 3.5″ touch display with a full QWERTY
keyboard, providing an ‘always open’ window to favorite social networking sites and Internet destinations. Nokia’s flagship Nseries device also introduces leading technology – including multiple sensors, memory, processing power and connection speeds – for people to create a personal Internet and share their ‘social location.
The phone adjusts to the world around us, helping stay connected to the people and things that matter most and helping to transform the Internet into your Internet.
The Nokia N97 is the most powerful, multi-sensory mobile computer in existence and Nokia Pakistan is launching this together with Ovi services including OVI Shop which will be a boon for Pakistani developers on the mobile platform. Given that Pakistan is a price conscious, mostly entry phone level market for Nokia, they’re ensuring that OVI is compatible even with Series 30 devices.
This wasn’t the biggest news for me (at least). The really big & exciting news was the fact that Symbian is going Open Source. Giving that I firmly believed that HTML 5.0, combined with Silver Light on Android is the way forward for mobile computing, this is wonderful news. Finally we have a contender in the mobile space to Android.
Nokia’s moving quickly to make Symbian a free and open mobile operating system. This is excellent because it will start putting pressure on the company’s competitors to keep innovating and giving customers — device manufacturers, consumers, and carriers alike — what they want. Nokia said that it aimed to make Symbian the “most widely used platform on the planet”.
I bet Microsoft will be less than thrilled at this. Not that they’re very aggressive in Pakistan in this arena. Internationally however to sell its WMP (Windows Mobile Platform) which is suddenly looking very expensive, I’m sure Microsoft will make Windows Mobile Platform a part of a larger, integrated experience, leveraging its desktop user base to make Windows Mobile more compelling to consumers whilst making it easier to connect to Windows Mobile, Windows, and Windows Live. How will they do it in Pakistan, i’m not sure.
Speaking of which, Nokia Pakistan also announced that they will bring Microsoft Silverlight powered experiences to millions of mobile users, which will be available for S60, Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets. Given that today’s consumers are looking for easy access to tightly integrated services and data on any device adding support for Silverlight will extend opportunities for developers to create rich, interactive applications that run on multiple platforms in a consistent and reliable way.
I bet Adobe’s feeling sick right now. This is a significant step in gaining broad acceptance for Silverlight and ensuring it is platform agnostic. This partnering will also have a large effect on mobile content support on the Silverlight platform in Pakistan. This is something i’m looking forward to.