â€œThe mobile phone market today is so much more interesting than it was pre-Appleâ€ admits Will Harris Nokia’s Head of Marketing for Asia Pacific. â€œThe last two years have been pretty horrid and we’ve been kicked a lot.â€
It’s a disarmingly frank view from the one-time mobile phone superpower but Harris sees the release of Nokia’s N8 smartphone as the beginning of an overdue turn in the company’s fortunes.
The N8 is the first handset built around the newly open-sourced Symbian OS and the do-it-all smartphone will be priced at $750 when it lands in Australia in early September.
â€œThis is a high-end device for the mass marketâ€ Harris says â€œand we’ll be launching a number of different devices below the N8 more or less simultaneously.â€ These would be followed by â€œan N9 device (at) the very top of our rangeâ€.
All of the new devices will run Symbian^3 which Harris says was â€œbasically rebuilt from Series 60 from the bottom. it looks quite familiar in some ways but is really very different.â€
In 2011 the company will shift to Symbian^4 â€œwhich then allows us to put a new UI layer on the topâ€.
In the meantime the N8 will tick as many of the tech boxes as Nokia can manage â€“ including a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss glass a 3.5 inch touchscreen with multiple desktops and live widgets plus the full suite of Nokia’s Ovi services including free turn-by-turn navigation using Ovi Maps.
The Symbian smartphones will co-exit with devices running MeeGo the Linux-based Intel-Nokia joint venture to create a made-for-mobile OS capable of running netbooks tablets and other devices.
Nokia Australia managing director Emile Baak says that MeeGo will slot into Nokia’s range of â€œpremium mobile devices like the next evolution of the N900â€.
Baak didn’t elaborate on Nokia’s take on the slate or tablet market but noted that â€œthe usability will go up if the screen is bigger but of course the portability will go down as the screen gets bigger. The N900 is not the most beautiful device in the world but it has a good form factor and screen size.â€