Earlier this week I went to Sydney to attend the Nokia Forum Developer Conference 2010, invited by Nokia Australia/New Zealand. I have to say it was my first event with Nokia and it was interesting to see 300 developers discussing the current state and future of Nokia's smartphone strategy.
Present at the event were Emile Baak, Managing Director Nokia Australia and New Zealand, Purnina Kochikar, Vice Pesident Forum Nokia and Developer Community, Jan Ole Suhr, Founder of Mobileways.de and developer of Twitter client Gravitiy for Symbian.
Being a developer conference the push was obviously about creating content and applications that get the customers to enjoy their devices - and buy those little bits of magic called software and content. Nokia says there are more than 1 million downloads every day from their Ovi software store, which is now available in 180 countries, with integrated mobile operator billing in partnership with 60 operators.
It is obvious Nokia is pushing the QT application and UI framework, seeing it's cross platform (Symbian, Maemo, desktop) which would allow developers to scale their efforts even more. The company also said their main commitments are "increase total addressable market", "commit to open source", "combine mobile and web technologies" and "lower entry barrier to developers".
Jan explained how a one man company created one of the most used Symbian software these days, #5 in the top apps in Australia. He recommended developers try their software in different handset models to get the real "feel" - which is interesting because Nokia gave one N97 Mini to a lucky developer, when I thought they should have distributed those to everyone in the room, like Google did at MWC with their Google Nexus One.
Nokia gave some numbers too. For example in the last quarter Symbian represented 44% of smartphone shipments in the world, with BlackBerry behind at 20%, Apple iPhone in third with 12.8%, Android with 7.2%, Windows Mobile 7.2% and then the rest - which I guess is Palm and other Linux-based smartphones we never hear of.
But really, the question in the back of my mind is "will Symbian turn into a entry level smartphone OS, or will it be sold as a upmarket feature phone OS?". Only time - and Nokia's efforts will tell. Nokia counts more than one million daily downloads from their online application store, but how many more people have no idea their phones are actually "smart"?
Here is an update from Nokia on this: "We have multiple platforms to serve different purposes and address different markets. Symbian is more successful than ever in bringing smartphones to the masses: it has more than 40 per cent of the global smartphone market. Symbian is our choice for smartphones and we in fact see it deploying even more widely as the technology required to run it trickles down through the portfolio."
The Nokia Forum is running the Calling All Innovators competition, now in its third year. Prizes are US$30,000 for 1st spot, US$15,000 for second and US$5,000 to third - this is for each of the four categories. So far there are 27 Australian entries and six New Zealand entries.
In the afternoon Nokia hosted a press event to introduce the press to a couple of things. First was the MeeGo initiative with Intel announced last month, that will see joint efforts from these companies to develop a product based on both Maemo and Moblin platforms. And then the Nokia N900 Maemo 5 smartphone/tablet computer release for Australia, which will see the device available in stores soon. There isn't a release date for New Zealand yet though.
Nokia couldn't say which operators would carry the device, but seeing the Nokia N900 is a 900/2100MHz 3G device it won't work on Telstra NextG network. And it won't work on Telecom New Zealand XT network either. This is a bummer because everyone at the press event received a loaner Nokia N900 and I mainly use Telecom XT. I am using the loaner device here in New Zealand with a 2degrees SIM card, and it works really well on that network.
Which also brings us to the "review" side of the thing. I got the device on Tuesday, and Nokia confirmed I have it for a couple of weeks. I can say though so far that it's a very clever device, fast and had quite some fun using it - installing new applications, finding some features, etc. It worked flawlessly with my Microsoft BPOS Exchange account and in a matter of minutes I had my emails, contacts, calendar all synchronised over-the-air.
Because I haven't had that much time with it yet, I suggest you read what other Geekzone users are talking about it - a few people in our community bought the Nokia N900 as soon as it was released in Europe and the U.S. a couple of months ago so there are some knowledge on how it works, what to expect, etc. Check this very good Nokia N900 review, and follow the discussion in our Nokia N900 users thread. I will post my own review later.
Now for the "facepalm" moment... Some "journalist" present at the press event commented after seeing the Nokia N900 is a combined touchscreen and slider device: "You [Nokia] have no presence in the smartphone market at all. It's been proven by Apple that people want touchscreen devices, so why do you enter the smartphone market with this device?"
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