Thursday 26 May 2005

Nokia 770: flame on!

Hello, Slashdot readers. If you're coming here to find out what I think of the 770, you'll want to read this post first. I got one or two negative comments about my mini-review. Rather than hide my thoughts in another comment, I'm going to play them out front 'n' centre...

I'm told that I've misunderstood Nokia's positioning. I disagree. I sat in the press conference next to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and we both thought the positioning was askew. IMHO, the positioning is one of the key things that's wrong with the 770 right now. If Nokia's going to market this thing as a home-based device, it's just not going to take off as a mass-market success.

I'm told I didn't check my facts. The facts aren't really in dispute here. I've seen one in the flesh. Two, actually. I doubt there something drastically crippled with the two units I exercised nine hours ago.

Us geeks may love the concept of the 770 (like I said, I wanted to like it, I really did). We may revel in its "revolutionary openness" as one anonymous commenter put it. We may even think that US$350 is a chump-change-cheap impulse buy (although I reckon that's stretching it a bit). Unfortunately, geek-lust does not a successful product make. Look at the Treo 600/650 line. A huge proportion of geeks have these, but is PalmOne a huge success?

One final thought: items of consumer electronics very, very rarely become successful despite poor marketing. Don't forget: marketing is more than just the "outbound" art of advertising, PR, and so on——it's also the "inbound" art of setting user requirements, positioning, and planning. It seems to me that Nokia has the positioning wrong.

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Wednesday 25 May 2005

Nokia 770 Platform Sucks

[Updated: clarified my position on the lack of cellular connectivity.]

Today at the LinuxWorld Summit in New York, Nokia announced its new tablet PC platform, the Nokia 770. It's a pocket-sized handheld tablet computer, with WiFi and Bluetooth support, running on Linux. Here's a photo.

There are several things about it that Aren't Quite Right.

  • Historically, Nokia hasn't been successful selling devices with no carrier relationship. Nokia operates best when the purchase price of its devices are being subsidised by a phone contract.
  • There's no cellular modem. It relies on an additional Bluetooth mobile phone. Which is fine for a home-based device, except...
  • It's being positioned as a device for the home, but it's surprisingly small for a home device. It's not much bigger than a remote control. A home device ought to be bigger, say 10"/25cm diagonal.
  • Conversely, it's not being positioned as a nomadic device. Its size implies that it's much more suited to being a highly-featured laptop replacement.
  • The performance is very poor. The demo devices were extremely slow.

Shame. Much of the industrial design is very compelling. It's been let down by sucky execution.

But don't stop there. Read more thoughts on the 770 in the next post.

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