Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nokia's N9 Debuts!

[Mia culpa for not posting anything for the past few days. It's been a ridiculous weekend, plus work has been busy. I hope to make it up to you readers...starting now.]

Courtesy of Engadget reports, I found out this morning that Nokia has taken the wraps off its upcoming N9 flagship smartphone. The significance of this revelation is that the N9 is Nokia's first phone running on the MeeGo operating system. It is interesting, to say the least, that Nokia has chose to introduce this phone --in spite of explicitly casting its full support behind Microsoft's Windows Phone7 OS.

Return readers to this blog probably already know that I am a big fan of Nokia products (namely phones). As a proud owner of a Nokia E71x, a device that has not failed me once over the past couple of years, I am definitely looking first for any potential replacements. The company is renowned for the quality, versatility, and long battery-life of its products. I can absolutely vouch for Nokia. So what so special about this device?

For starters, the Nokia N9 packs a 3.9-inch "Clear Black" AMOLED, Gorilla-Glass-protected screen, 1 GB of RAM, and an OMAP3630 (Texas Instruments) 1Ghz processor, along with quad-band capability, GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, and a 8 megapixel camera. All these features are in line with the best smartphone offerings out there -- perhaps with the exception of the processor, which is only single core. The camera resolution is also a slight disappointment given the Nokia N8 carried a 12-megapixel sensor, but the N9's supposedly carries wider-than-usual lens. What truly sets the N9 apart is its quad-band capability and, not surprisingly, the MeeGo OS. Quad-band capability is a great feature for those who travel around the world a lot.

Yet the point of discussion is the MeeGo OS. Based on the demonstration on Engadget's hands-on videos, I like the software but more thrilled about the hardware. MeeGo looks like a more mature version of Apple's iOS operating system, thanks to its multi-tasking capabilities. One negative is the number of apps I see displayed on the main menu -- why so many? Call me "old school" but I much prefer the native embedding of useful applications like music player into the operating system itself, rather than having to install it. This is the same reason I still have my E71x: Symbian may be outdated but it is reliable and gets the job done. I have to admit, however, that I was "wow-ed" by the demonstration of the N9's ability to connect via Bluetooth (by touch) into compatible devices.

Overall, this blog post is just to highlight a new development in the tech sector. (Or at least significant in my opinion.) I think Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, made the right call into switching to Windows Phone 7 for future Nokia devices. Inasmuch as MeeGo is usable, it cannot compete against the likes of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7 on the software development front. In other words, MeeGo looks very much like a product still under development -- not ready for prime time. And Nokia can ill-afford to wait until the platform matures. As Tony Starks says so well, "sometimes you have to run before you can walk".

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