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?"
This is a screenshot of his website today (click for a larger version):
Notice on the right hand sidebar a "tag cloud" with the most discussed topics on that site. Now let's look behind the scenes on the code used to create that "tag cloud":
Oh, look... If the topic is "ISP Filtering" then the Hon. Stephen Conroy doesn't want you to know about it. You can still click on any tag though, go to the search page and enter the term "ISP Filtering" to find the content you want, but obviously there shouldn't be any hint that such a topic exists.
Now you understand why I think we shouldn't have a national Internet filter in New Zealand. You don't know for sure if any future government would change the rules behind the scenes.
(By the way, I hope using the website as an example don't put me on a "persona non grata" list in Australia...)
Those posts were very personal and abusive, including names of employees and some very sick comments.
However Twitter support failed to recognise this as a threat and replied with a canned response to those who submitted a support ticket:
What a Twitter #fail. I just hope Telecom New Zealand notify the police, and spend some of its lawyers' time to pursue this further.
Shame on you Twitter.
UPDATE: After some review, the appropriate Twitter team decided to remove that account. Thanks to all involved, and Twitter for reviewing it.
Folks, there's someone on Twitter who doesn't know better and is currently on a harassment campaign against Telecom employees.
The tweets are of a personal nature (including comments on female employees and of a sexual nature), highly NSFW.
While I firmly support people criticising a company, I think it's wrong to make it personal and go on employees and their personal lives. I also think it's wrong to make it behind anonymous comments.
If you are a Twitter user, could you please visit http://twitter.com/deadcaseyjohnsn and click the REPORT SPAM link?
Note I am not giving a link here because that page doesn't need Google juice. Also note all tweets are highly NSFW - even the mild ones.
TUANZ blog post of the day says "Impound Reynold's Passport", and Ernie asks the government to retain Telecom New Zealand CEO Paul Reynold's in the country.
IANAL, but aside from the fact that no legitimate government would ever keep a foreign citizen's passport with no legal grounds and a judicial order issued on the breach of some law, the headline is sensationalist at best.
But then Ernie continues "Reynolds' handling of the crisis this week has been magnificent. He's fronted this issue at every step. He's been direct and honest. He's shown very genuine empathy in talking about the inconvenience, distress and cost the issues have imposed on customers. He hasn't ducked the questions - he's answered, fully and from the heart, every time."
Yes, I agree with that sentence. But that headline asking the government to retain someone in the country - the equivalent of arresting someone - without legal proceedings?
Seriously? As I said, a sensationalist headline. When I read it on my RSS reader I thought "surely not"? I understand it's more of a "he's doing a good job, keep him here" and not a "XT is fubar, keep him here"...
It sounds too good to be true, right?
First you have to realise that 028 is not a free number (I have blanked out the rest of their 028 number). So while you might get a "free" call to some country, you still have to pay the call to their access number. New Zealand 028 numbers are charged like mobile phone calls, so they are not cheap.
In these cases it might actually be cheaper to simply call the international number from your mobile. Unless you too have an 028 number, supplied by 2talk. Calls from 028 numbers to other 028 numbers are free - this is the best case scenario.
As pointed out by Steve in the comments, here is the catch: the company can carry very cheap calls to international destinations, but instead of offering a free access number in New Zealand, it offers a 028 number, which is charged at mobile rates - so they make money on the difference.
As I said, it might be cheaper to just use your mobile to call those international destinations instead.
Last year I posted a few Geekzone Browser and OS stats, mainly as a response for a request from NBR's Chris Keall. I just thought looking at the numbers early in the year (and later again this year) will be fun, so here are a couple of interesting numbers charts/tables. We are looking at numbers from more than 700,000 unique visitors in a 30 day period.
First is the % of browser by visits to Geekzone and I am surprised that both Internet Explorer and Firefox are down. A few months ago Firefox passed Internet Explorer as the most used browser to access Geekzone, but now they are both in the same % level - and both down. Not surprising is Google Chrome, which seems to be up 100% since the last time I looked at it:
Just for an idea, of those using Internet Explorer, 59.40% use IE8, 26.89% use IE7 and 13.65% still use IE6.
Next is the % of Operating System by visits to Geekzone. I haven't published these numbers before, so I can't compare. There's a distinct lack of mobile browsers here since we launched the Geekzone Mobile and we automatically redirect those mobile users to the new site. But no surprises here:
Now let's look at Geekzone mobile, which runs on its own domain and obviously has a much smaller user base - we are talking about 30,000 unique visits a month. First the distribution of mobile Operating System:
And now another interesting one, the distribution of users through mobile network access (although I have no idea where Google got that "Service Mobile Corporation" from, but it seems WHOIS for those visitors don't have a specific mobile operator name). From here I see a few more Telecom users access our site from a mobile device than Vodafone users do:
UPDATE: someone pointed out that "Service Provider Corporation" is how Telecom is identified in some speedtest.net reports, so if this is the case it pushes Telecom mobile users numbers even higher than those from Vodafone.
After the (small) glitch affecting SMS services on Telecom XT this week I asked their people for an update and here it is:
Obviously the reason we're doing the [external] review is to ask those questions - what's going on/where is the problem - but there's also a whole lot of planned work going on at the same time as the review is underway. Naturally the results of the review will feed into this, but we're getting on with things in the meantime, all of which will help to improve user experience.
Paul talked a fair bit about this at our Q2 results last week, here's a summary of what he discussed at the results preso:
. We're increasing the RNC processor capacity
. We're regularly installing updates to the software to improve resilience
. We also had some things in the plan as the number subscribers on the network grew. This is all going to occur over the next few months which will further improve resilience and the customer experience
. We'll also be adding two more RNCs by March - another one in CHCH and another one in AKL
. We're adding more fibre backhaul
. We're adding more cell sites, and we're amplifying some cell sites too
Alongside that we've gone absolutely microscopic on the operational management of the network, which is being continually monitored right down to cell site by cell site level at the very highest levels of the company.
As Paul's said - XT was built to be a world class network and that's what it needs to be - we're determined to get it there and it's absolutely the number one focus at the company right now, as you would expect.
Microsoft has removed the wraps from one of its most guarded secrets, unveiling Windows Phone 7 Series, an operating system for mobile that promises to make it easier to work through your mobile and social life. While the company has demonstrated the software, we can't buy any handset yet because those are still at least nine months away.
Windows Phone Series 7 introduces Hubs that guide you through different use cases. In each Hub you can browse through it and change how you see information. Data is constantly updated in the background - your music, photos or social networks are constantly updated, with this being reflected in the tiles.
The new phone also ditches the old ActiveSync (Windows XP) and Windows Mobile Device Center (Windows Vista and Windows 7) in favour or Zune software. And Microsoft promised Zune Marketplace will be available wherever Windows Phone 7 Series is officially sold.
This is a move from an application centric interface to a more activities and social centric interface. Will it work well? Who knows, as I said an actual product is still nine months away. Developers will get a lot more information at MIX10.
Does it mean the death of Windows Mobile as we know it today? It appears not, according to istartedsomething, that reports both Windows Phone 7 Series and the current Windows Mobile will co-exist.
I also received some interesting information today that points in that direction. For example people buying apps from the Marketplace for Windows Mobile know that it's currently limited to a specific geographic region and developers paid to have their apps listed in different regions. This limited the reach of applications. Well, no more, since Microsoft is making it easier for developers to list their applications by removing additional listing fees. Once the application is listed in the marketplace (with its $99 fee) it can then be listed in any region for free.
Also users will have the option to browse the marketplace catalogue for other regions, with prices listed in the user's own currency. This will improve the catalogue vastly, because since launch users could only see apps available in their own regions, limiting the offerings.
These changes, plus what istartedsomething reported earlier, seem to point that Windows Mobile will continue in the market for some time, while Windows Phone 7 Series comes to life.