Saturday, 27 June 2009

Nokia v Apple; the war is over

It's been a demoralising 24 hours. I have owned Nokia mobile phones for as long as I care to remember and I have always been a big fan of the Finnish techno-house. My first mobile was a Motorola. The "brick" that was the Opal which I was issued with in 1989. I remember going into telephone boxes to make calls to look less conspicuous.

However, once Nokia got their act together I was smitten and my first "personal" mobile was a Nokia. I have stuck with them pretty much since and have rarely been disappointed. My wife got the first i-Phone and for once I was secretly jealous. The Safari browser was simply magic and it was very slick to use. However, it's camera was a mere 2-meg. It had no video capability and you were tied to I-Tunes and their AAC file formats. Bluetooth was a no-no and the bottom line for me was that mobile internet speed was no better than my Nokia, in spite of the better software.

I have been using a N95 8gb for 18 months and it has done the job but I have had to give grudging respect to Apple's icon. I have been waiting for Nokia's N97 for over a year. I was expecting it to answer all of my mobile problems and put the i-Phone in it's place. I have waited and waited. The delay in production has been inordinate and I expected that it was because Nokia wanted to ensure they fired the silver bullet. Finally we heard that it would be out in "June." In the meantime, Apple slid in with their 3GS and low and behold it appeared on 19th June. I was first in the queue and I was very impressed. HSPDA means that it works at home broadband speed. The camera on the16gb version has been improved albeit to a miserly 3-me g, although the quality of the 2-meg camera was always impressive. They have added video capability and some new tricks which keep it a leading top-end mobile contender, especially with the thousands of third party applications available from their App Store. I wasn't deterred, the N97 was coming.

Yesterday, I was first into Vodaphone and spent 30 minutes with my dreamboat. Oh how disappointed I was. The touchscreen softare is positively cumbersome. I think it has something to do with being "touch resistant." Whatever it is, it's still a mile away from Apple's Safari software. The slideout Qwerty keyboard has a lovely action and there's a quality feel to the rubber keys, but that's where the quality ends. The case itself is what I call, "hard black plastic," the sort that cracks when dropped. The front screen feels plasticky, whereas the i-Phone's had always been glass. To top it off, the chrome surround on the N97 is silver-coloured plastic and you know it will scratch to blazes.

I was hugely disapppointed and looking for crumbs of comfort from the salesman. I said how cheap it felt and he looked like he knew he was losing a sale. Then he offered the fatal explanation; they had cut costs on the outside to focus on the inside. At this point my in-built bullshit alarm went off and I said goodbye and headed for the Apple shop.

I spent five hours sorting my 3GS 16g i-Phone out yesterday and have been loading content all day. I have to say that I have been very impressed with what it can do and that respect continues to grow , almost by the hour. I-tunes is far simpler than it was and I have been able to take dat from all of my other PC programmes effortlessly. I am already past the point of maximium expectations from the N97 and there is still some way to go. For me, the battle at the top-end has been decisive. Nokia will need something special to rebound from this but if the leadtime for the N97 is anything to go by, it will take another two years at very least, in which time it's hard to concieve that Apple won't have made major advances with the i-Phone.


Chicago Addick said...

I was only saying to my other half the other day that soon enough people (who can afford to choose) will only own an iPhone or a work enforced Blackberry. The other companies may as well give up.

Marco. said...

I'm reading you on my ever present iPhone - beware, it will completely take over your life!

Anonymous said...

Only people who like toys will own an iPhone. People who need phones to work with will still buy Nokia. As an E90 owner for years & a 9200 owner before that, I can't see how anyone can get anything done on a phone without a real keyboard - the 2 compared phones are apples & oranges.

The article seems warped - you would give up tons more functionality because of a piece of plastic that 'might' scratch? Haven't you seen the tests done with the scratching with keys, dunking underwater, etc?

I got to use the N97 2 days ago & found the touch screen to work fine. 'Cumbersome' isn't exactly descriptive of a real world problem. My only decision now is whether to keep the E90 or to change over to the N97.

As for iPhone or Blackberry, Nokia still has almost half the market (even with it basically ignoring the 'non-standard' USA market), twice that of RIM and Apple has only 10%, so can't see how you can make that assessment.

Suze said...

There's the saying, who can afford to choose. Not everyone can, so, as yet, the others had better keep going and doing what they do.

Sounds a great piece of technology, Dave. But until they make my reception better around here (orange is the best, and I can only receive that in certain parts of the house..the others? Go and stand outside the pub!), and I don't work from home, then it's not worth buying, however sleek it is.

But I am thinking my next laptop will be apple...for that, we'll have to see.

Dave said...

If Apple could get off their high-horse over Adobe's Flash Player and integrate it, they could expect to go after RIM's Blackberry market. I have a Blackberry for work but struggle to really wonder why? If I could by-pass company firewalls etc, I would have ditched it for my N95/I-Phone. The only other "problem" is the i-Phone's limited Bluetooth capability. It works with headphones etc but you can't bluetooth files and Apple are unlikely to concede that as it would compromise sales via i-Tunes. A "standard" Apple iPhone would also threaten the mass handset market if they could price it right.

Dave said...

Anon - fair point re respective market share. Having lived with the i-Phone 3GS for two and a half days, now, I can honestly see no comparison in terms of quality, capability or functionality. I was concerned about the lack of keyboard as I have shovel-hands, but that has improved dramatically in a couple of days and I think my index finger can work as quick as my thumbs! Horses for courses I guess, but I have been very pleasantly surprised. There are Apps that are useful and work in addition to all the gimmicky ones I had seen previously.

Dave said...

Suze - understand re price but I was comparing a top-end i-Phone with an equally priced Nokia. If Apple launced a regular mobile phone as a competitive price I can see it cleaning up. I have always thought that Macs were for professionals and overkill for me, but I can see the i-Phone drawing me in, especially as the Mac's have become more competitive.

cowbean said...

It really depends on what you're looking for. Apple has the "whole package", software ecosystem, hardware suite integration, etc,, locked down tight. But that also means they've locked *you* down tight, into that family of stuff. I had an iPhone for about 3 months before moving onto the E71 and loving it, primarily because I hate windows, and don't feel like blowing tons of money on a Mac... as a linux user, nokia's work rather well, as long as you don't mind tinkering with it to get the bluetooth DUN going. Nokia PC / Ovi suite works fine running in a virtualized xp instance.

Power users vs. others, is what it boils down to, essentially. Hopefully there is enough diversification in market demands so everyone's needs can still be met.

Suze said...

My comment re the price, was more aimed at CA's mention of iphone and Blackberry... and the rest.

I do need to sit down and look carefully at my computer requirements, as I use my computer mainly for business, and my husband wants one for...playing!

I'm not a Windows fan either, don't use IE...and am surrounded by IT techies...