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Nokia CEO Promises High-end Smartphone Fight Back

Gordon Kelly


Nokia Exec Promises High-end Smartphone Fight Back

You know things are serious when CEOs start penning open letters. Steve Jobs is the most famed for mouthing off about topics he feels passionately about (usually a 50/50 mix of passion and crazy) and now Nokia Executive VP of Mobile Solutions Anssi Vanjoki is at it...

Speaking on the company's 'Nokia Conversations' blog, Vanjoki has penned a piece entitled 'The fightback starts now' (yes, I believe 'fight back' is two words as well) and the long and short of it is he feels the Finns are finally ready for a comeback - possibly with good reason.

"I am committed, perhaps even obsessed, with getting Nokia back to being number one in high-end devices," he explained while talking up Symbian^3 (now too late, if ask me) and - more credibly - MeeGo (pictured below).

"The current phase of MeeGo development is looking awesome," he continued. "We believe it will power the computers of the future. And the computers of the future will not be tied to a desk or even a lap – they will fit in your pocket... There is no denying, that as a challenger now, we have a fight on our hands. The first battle is to bring you products and services you will want to own and use, to inspire you to create and do new things in this ever changing digital world. I’m ready to take this challenge on, and so is the entire Nokia team."

Yes it is indeed fightin' talk and - while it is possible to pick holes in Vanjoki's arguments and make accusations as to why by far the world's largest phone maker found itself in this jam in the first place, I'm glad that is his tone.

Besides whereas Moblin and Maemo had potential, combining the two via the unlikely Nokia Intel partnership actually looks to be bearing fruit. Perhaps the most exciting point though is if Nokia can finally get its software right we all know the hardware and the price tag will take care of itself...

Source: Nokia Conversations: 'The fightback begins now'


July 6, 2010, 11:00 am

Gordon, can you tell me specifically why you think Symbian^3 is too late?

I'm hearing this a lot from tech sites but no-one seems to be able to say why other than a few vague references to 'old fashioned icons' and 'a cluttered settings list'.


July 6, 2010, 12:20 pm

I certainly think Nokia have the expertise in the hardware front, I'm just a little bit worried about software side. Looking at the pictures one thing that stands out is, "What do all the Icons mean?", and even if you can gather what they mean they don't seem to indicate what's happening, eg. look at the second picture, the Keypad icon looks selected, but we get a picture of a dog instead. If you look at IOS4/Android you'll see short text descriptions, on a PC just having Icons is fine as you can use Tooltips, but on a touchscreen that's not possible.


July 6, 2010, 12:41 pm


If Eldar savaged it, then it can't be much cop. Too little, far too late...


July 6, 2010, 2:00 pm

They should just licence Android and be done with it...

Jean-Louis Gassee (ex Apple R&D head, back in the bad old days) had an interesting piece the other day:



July 6, 2010, 3:00 pm

Nokia's strategy is very good imo: MeeGo will be a top notch OS, running on Intel and ARM; Symbian is a mature OS, running on cheaper hardware; it needs a UI overhaul, that's all !


July 6, 2010, 3:25 pm

@Sleeper: I share your confusion. Now I'll admit Nokia's touchscreen devices thus far have suffered problems with a bad "touch" interface. Apart from the N900, which used Maemo, which has sort of become MeeGo, but then it was lacking in a couple of other areas.

However, on the non-touch front, I'd still rather use a Nokia than anything else out there. I determined a long time ago that S60 3rd Ed pissed from a great height on WM Smartphone.

Anyway, I'll cut long stories short and sum up. Nokia had problems with touch UI design, but the underlying OS is still (IMO) the most feature-rich and best at multi-tasking.

I still prefer a physical KB to any on-screen one, so not sure I'll get an N8, but a qwerty slider may be for me. (Yes, I know there's that leaked N9 or whatever, but the squashed look of the KB currently puts me off, and 4" screen may be too big to hold comfortably. We'll see)

@Keith: That's really early MeeGo so I think judging it at this point may be difficult. But if it's basically Maemo+ I'll like it, as within weeks I preferred Maemo to Android. However due to frequent Android updates, it's still lacking a few features. Still, at least I can close apps easily whenever I like on both Maemo and S60.

Oh, and the dog picture's not hard to work out, it's clearly the contact's assigned pic.

@Steve: I don't think Nokia wants to alienate its existing users. The main goal of S^3 (as far as I can tell) is to make their interface 100% finger-friendly and without the need for a stylus at any point. MS made efforts toward this with WM6.5 and I think half-succeeded, but with WP7 it's such a drastic change (closed system, no multitasking, totally different UI) that it may put off any existing users, who won't be able to run their favourite apps on it either.

So yeah, Nokia have some stuff to work out, but I feel it's mainly in UI, not the underlying mechanics of the OS.

Anyway, not long to tell, I think the N8's out in a couple of Months, so we'll be able to see if it's




Daniel Gerson

July 6, 2010, 3:35 pm

I don't think Nokia has a hope at the moment. Apple has the momentum and Google has the fundamentals. Not once in his blog post did Vanjoki mention how important the CLOUD is for the success of future phones.

After having some experience now with GAE (Google App Engine) and GWT (Google web toolkit), and seeing how easy they are to roll out and integrate with both phones and computer browsers , I think without building their own convincing stack (cloud, not just phone), Nokia doesn't have a hope in hell. The fact that Google Wave is available for smartphones at only 5% extra dev effort is unbelievable! I think GAE+GWT will become a game changer as it evolves. Google just understands APIs. Citing another example, that with Froyo you can push from the cloud to the phone is just right on the money for future-proofing.

I think that all these companies have good people, but I think what's holding Nokia and M$ and others back is bad management at the very top level. Balmer is an accountant and Vanjoki doesn't seem to get it. Google's founders are amongst the most impressive techies on the planet from an academic level and are still very much involved unlike Gates. And even though Jobs isn't as good, he does "get it".


July 6, 2010, 3:42 pm

Talk's cheap - Nokia need to start delivering - Apple has rolled out its 4th gen iPhone and Nokia still don't have an answer. With the future of Palm uncertain, Android is now the only other game in town and they are maybe 1 generation behind Apple but chasing hard. Nokia have an awful lot of catching up to do.


July 6, 2010, 3:48 pm

@DMG I'm also a Google fan, but don't forget all Google services will be accessible with a MeeGo device ;-)

In the long run MeeGo will be much better managed than the Android mess, imo


July 6, 2010, 4:13 pm

@DMG: Wait wait, Google's Apps are made with something called GAE?



Teeheehee... oh God I'm being so juvenile right now... hehehehehe.

Ahem, ok, am better now.


July 6, 2010, 4:34 pm

@drdark: Oh, and the dog picture's not hard to work out, it's clearly the contact's assigned pic.

You missed the bit were I said the Keypad icon was highlighted, why would I want the assigned pic when I've selected the keypad. But, if it makes sense to you that's fine.

@drdark: Still, at least I can close apps easily whenever I like on both Maemo and S60.

You know, that's really odd, I'm finding it really easy to close Apps too, amazing eh.. But what's even better is I don't need too, I know on other phones you do or your battery will be dead within the hour. Amazing what benefits controlled multi-tasking brings.


July 6, 2010, 4:51 pm

@dr dark

Interesting isn't it? I have an X6 at present and from the usage point of view I'd say the negative bits boil down to:

* Annoying network confirmation messages

* Inconsistent Single/Double tap interface

* Slightly cluttered menu, particularly settings and connectivity

* Crap browser

It seems that Symbian^3 - from what I've read - fixes the first three points and for the latter there's always Opera so I'm not getting the 'too late' bit. As long as it's usable then who cares?

Of course I can also Bluetooth files to anyone and don't need a computer to make my phone operational or load it up. Which is nice.

Eldar's 'review' on a pre-production device is interesting. He spends the vast majority of it praising the changes then the last two paragrpahs saying it's doomed because 'it brings nothing new'. Like what, Eldar? Multitasking? Folders? Kind of difficult to bring anything new to the party when it was always there.

As for all the Nokia is doomed talk from some of the commenters, last time I looked Nokia were still outselling Apple and Android combined in smartphones despite having a less than spectacular current range of offerings.

Time will tell but this dismissal of Symbian^3 strikes me as a bit premature. From a personal point of view the iPhone bores me and Android, unless it's been skinned with HTC's Sense, looks and runs like a pig unless you have at least a 700MHz CPU in there. I don't think I'm alone here.


July 6, 2010, 5:13 pm

@Sleeper: last time I looked Nokia were still outselling Apple and Android combined in smartphones

I think the point here is high-end, Nokia sells a lot of low-end smartphones too. I certainly hope Nokia are not doomed. My feeling is that Nokia have too many handsets, and this only gives rise to the resources issues there having.


July 6, 2010, 5:27 pm

nokia still has pulling power for me for some simple facts: they have the best free sat nav where maps are 'on device' where zero data is needed to use it, they have the single best cameras on a phone as good as a cheap compact.

The fact it works out of the box it and not being fundamentally tied to iTunes (or google), which is how mobiles should be. Because a mobile phone is portable, I will use it anywhere in the world and to add a few songs or an important file to it, I shouldnt be forced to erase the device to re sync everything just to use a new computer.

basically it is far more device convergent, it can be deditated point and shoot camera, a satnav, a usb stick, their FM transmitters mean you can listen to your music in any car, or anywhere with a radio, the new N8 can even be a host to a usb key like a computer is.


July 6, 2010, 6:15 pm

@Keith: Again, I'm not sure why we're discussing a picture of an OS which isn't even out yet, but here goes my next piece of guesswork.

I'm going to hazard the assumption that this is the details page for the contact a bit similar to the current "Contacts Bar" interface thingy on Nokia's touchscreen phones.


I'll then continue to guess that the keypad icon was tapped to bring up all the call options at the bottom for that particular contact.

~But this is all guesswork and it's pointless going on about it.

"Amazing what benefits controlled multi-tasking brings."

a) You've been multitasking for 2 weeks and already concluded it's the best solution?

b) On non-touchscreen phones Nokia's batteries kick seven bells out of anything else, and for touchy ones they're about on par with the norm. So what's your point exactly?

c) If an OS is forcing me NOT to close an app when I want to because it thinks it's smarter than I am, it can kindly fuck off.

@Sleeper: You hot a certain nail I mentioned before in another thread on the head. Tech's moving so fast now that everyone wants "New". It doesn't even matter that it's been done before. Symbian's an old, but reliable OS, two things which /should/ be big selling factors. But instead it's flashiness or a different way (not necessarily better) of doing things which gets all the headlines.

So Nokia phones for years have done most of the stuff out now. But since the others are "new" they're simply getting written about more.

Perhaps MS realised this so made a drastic change with WP7?

As if you drum the fact Symbian is such a capable OS into our skulls further. If you watch the latest N8 videos you find out, as @Jay mentioned, that it connects USB keys(actually whole external HDDs too) and also manages to connect a bluetooth KB and mouse at the same time (something which I believe even the N900 fails to do). Meaning with its HDMI output, it can act very well as a TV connected Media player.

The one thing I'm worried about, as I was a year ago, when "phones" got too smart for their own good, is battery life.

@Jay: Ovi Maps are feature packed and very nicely detailed (as in the map view itself), but the menu structure makes me want to waterboard whoever's in charge of its UI.

P.S. Another current failing of the Ovi store appears to be the fact you can't download the apps to your PC first then transfer them to the device. Doing that with .sis files was plain simple before these fancy shmancy app stores arrived... *grumble grumble*

Daniel Gerson

July 6, 2010, 7:20 pm

@Swift11: It's not true that ALL google's services are available for all phones. Google Navigation being one of them, google goggles another. At the moment google are being very generous with their service availability to non-android phones (maps, wave etc). I think they are happy enough with Android's progress not to worry. If they decide to pull an Apple like stunt on other OSs, playing hardball, and limiting youtube and other functionality to phones if they ever get frustrated with Android's future progress, I don't think you realize how powerful they are.


July 6, 2010, 8:09 pm

I don't get Nokia, how hard is it for them to make a 3.5" S-LCD/OLED 856x480 capacitive phone with Android OS while they wait for MeeGo. I want a new phone, but am loath to turn to Sony Ericsson and I'm still unconvinced by HTC. Nokia make quality hardware, but their addiction to Symbian is deadly, and I can't bring myself to get a touch phone with any kind of Symbian on it.

I mean HTC and Moto turn out 2-3 good enough devices a year, while Nokia are sitting around wasting time with S60/S^3 while their market share in lucrative territories dwindles.

Now I'm ready for a bunch of people telling me that S60 is perfectly decent for touch screens and that they don't need Android...

Peter 20

July 6, 2010, 8:32 pm

I really hope Nokia comes out of it's hole, they make grate devices and no other manufacturer even compares when it comes to price. Yes HTC and it's android OS is nice but I don't feel like spending $800 on an unlocked smart phone. I also don't want to be tied down to a 2 year contract.


July 6, 2010, 8:32 pm

@drdark: @Keith: Again, I'm not sure why we're discussing a picture

Well I was replying to your comment, were you totally misread my initial comment. But heh ho, if that's how your expecting this yet not released interface to work, and it requires people like me to question how it works, then it must be a really intuitive interface there planning there.

@drdark: a) You've been multitasking for 2 weeks and already concluded it's the best solution?

No, the way it's been implemented is the best :)

@drdark: b) On non-touchscreen phones Nokia's batteries kick seven bells out of anything else, and for touchy ones they're about on par with the norm.

Yeah that's why you get comments like -> "To save battery, I switch off bluetooth, switch off Wi-Fi, lower brightness of display..it will keep upto 1 day of normal usage.", "love this phone, but on day 2 of having it i can tell i need to buy another battery or two". @drdrak, I think your 7 bells claim is doesn't add up.

@drdark: So what's your point exactly?

Well if you don't understand what the benefits of controlled mult-tasking are, then no point really, forget it, I think it might be going over your head a little.

@drdark: c) If an OS is forcing me NOT to close an app when I want to because it thinks it's smarter than I am, it can kindly fuck off.

Well it's not forcing you not close, is it?. You still have the option, you really do need to keep up.

Ironically, again I wasn't having a dig a Nokia phones, and even made the comment that I hope they make good, and they even had the expertise. But I made a simple comment on how the current screenshots could be misleading, but again as usual @drdark jumps in giving his Nokia is best Apple if rubbish. Really @drdark, be happy with your phone and be done with it, you NokiaFanboy you.


July 6, 2010, 8:38 pm

@Max Power

Why would they? Android without its fancy clothes is ugly and a bit rubbish in terms of power management.

Which brings me to...


I agree. Without wanting to sound like a Luddite, I don't see what's so bad about taking something familiar to about half the people who have ever used a mobile phone on this planet and making it a bit easier to use rather than, say, rebuilding a completely new UI.

After all, at the end of the day it's all just pressing an icon on a screen, isn't it?


July 6, 2010, 8:48 pm

@Max: You mean apart from everyone so far conceding that S60 has several flaws on touchscreen devices?


July 6, 2010, 9:11 pm

@DMG: That's the big difference between Google and the others. I've watched Schmidt's presentation in Barcelona: he repeated several times that all Google services will always be open to everybody. The OS doesn't really matter for Google. Meego will be used in netbooks, tablets and phones: Google welcomes everybody with open arms !


July 6, 2010, 9:14 pm

I admire nokia sticking to their guns with regards to Android. Relying on that system will erode the value of the handset maker to simply churning out hardware to Android specification and lock their decision-making in the long term.

If you've tried their sat-nav software on their new phones, it amazingly good. Good enough to replace a TomTom Go. If their strategy hinges on providing good services alongside their hardware, they should be a dominant presence in the next decade.


July 6, 2010, 11:58 pm


Right, now let's move on to another thread.


July 7, 2010, 12:50 am

@drdark: I agree about the menu but at a price of free and on the quality of the directions and the free map updates I am very happy to lump it.

also if you have firefox it is 'simple' to download from ovi, search for it, it's not perfect, and some would say why (for backup if the apps were removed) but it's possible unlike on android

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