Nokia and Intel's MeeGo OS has to run the run (not just talk)

Today Intel and Nokia merged their existing smartphone and mobile device operating systems (Moblin and Maemo respectively). I'll be brief as I'm at the MWC event right now (see my tweets for latest analysis). The target devices range from smartphones -- or mobile computers in Nokia's current positioning -- netbooks, tablets, in-car entertainment among others.

This is a bold play that places MeeGo into a competitive position with Android, iPhone OS, Google's Chrome and even desktop software like Ubuntu (as well as the mushrooming mobile-centric smartphone software like Palm's WebOS, Samsung bada and Windows Phone).

Intel's support will raise the ability of the new platform to attract device makers as well as the app developers that every smartphone and smart mobile platform desperately needs to be competitive.

They have lots in common: Both are Linux-based; both predominantly target mobile devices; both aim to deliver outstanding rich consumer Internet experiences; and both have been more talk than action to date. Nokia needs to shift step quickly from talking to walking and even better running or the high end market in Europe will be dominated by the same players as in North America and Nokia will have to pursue a winback strategy. It's taken Nokia nearly five years since the first Maemo device shipped to launch the first phone, the N900, and that is not the complete product -- as Nokia concede -- impressive although it nevertheless is (read my first take on the N900 in this Forrester report).

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3 Years on: The iPhone was the Ironclad of Mobile Phones

Tomorrow, on the 9th, it's three years since the announcement of the iPhone. In that short space of time, and as Apple promised back then, Apple has reinvented the phone.

The iPhone has proven to be the 'Ironclad' of mobile phones. Everything that went before was obsolete overnight, both smartphones and dumb phones included. No prior phone could compete with the experience and the abilities of the iPhone. Sure, some phones were superior in very specific regards -- especially on cost and call quality -- just as very early Ironclad warships were not always the most sea worthy vessels. But overall, nothing existing could go toe-to-toe with the iPhone.

Other manufacturers saw this fast and reacted. Just like with the warships of the latter part of the 19th century the pace of innovation since, both from other manufacturers and from across the whole mobile ecosystem, has been ferocious. This week at CES we've seen numerous competing high end mobile phone launches that demonstrate that the pace of innovation in mobile is accelerating, rather than slowing.

Consumers use this new breed of high end phones in completely different ways to older 'smartphones' or dumb phones (we have consumer data on this, clients please ask!). This is especially true in Europe where consumer ownership of Nokia's Symbian Series 60 handsets is so great.

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The Google Phone Launch is About Communication

Much that's been leaked about the Google announcement later today is familiar and evolutionary. What will matter most is how Google communicates the news and how it's received. This will set the tone for the Android smartphone operating system for 2010 and influence how other firms involved in Android -- Motorola, LG, SonyEricsson as well as the operators -- react and adjust their strategy.

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Amazon Kindle launches globally, sort of

Today, Amazon have launched a new Kindle that they are marketing internationally. Prior Kindle models were limited to use in the US. Key details:

  • Big promotion in the centre of the front page of Amazon sites in the UK, France, Germany and Japan.
  • Only for sale on Amazon.com and priced in USD at $279 (i.e. a $20 mark-up over existing Kindle2). Promotions above have links to Amazon's US site to buy.
  • Books are also for sale only via Amazon.com and are also priced in USD (at least for now).
  • This is the first Kindle that uses a GSM-standard mobile phone radio -- rather than CDMA -- for wireless downloading of books, sync of reading position with other Kindles and the iPhone Kindle app (i.e. to drive Amazon's Whispersync consumer cloud service).
  • Uses AT&T's mobile network and AT&T's global mobile roaming partners for Whispersync.
  • When outside the US, Kindle owners pay an additional charge for each book downloaded, currently USD1.99 per download. I imagine this also includes downloading PDFs via the email to Kindle conversion process and downloading small items like blogs or newspapers.

I'm frankly astonished that Amazon is marketing the above product internationally so strongly. Instead, it looks like a great fit for US residents who want to own a Kindle that works both in the US and when they travel abroad. Or, Amazon could have chosen a much softer and lower key international promotion on their various global sites.

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Vodafone 360 is a Major Strategic Play for Handsets & Mobile Internet

By Ian Fogg (bio, recent research or follow me on twitter)

 

Vodafone has just launched a major new initiative called Vodafone 360 (release, with the new 360.com website to follow). Key points:

  • Integration with social networks for an online address book and content sharing.
  • Combination mobile handset + 360.com cloud service strategy.
  • Single sign-on for customers or non-Vodafone customers. 360.com website available to both.
  • Deep handset integration: two new Linux LIMO handsets with "full fat" experience (made by Samsung). Lesser version pre-loaded onto a number of Symbian Series 60 handsets, downloads and other versions available for around 100 handsets.
  • Also includes an App store, new mobile web portal, music service, and maps service.

I'm working on a quicktake report. But this is such a major initiative with wide ranging scope, that I'm extremely curious in what others think? Specifically:

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Palm's Need to Communicate Its Differentiation

Nokia Breaks with the Past: N900 Linux Maemo Phone Announced

By Ian Fogg (bio, recent research or follow me on twitter)

The new N900 is a departure from Nokia's regular evolutionary extensions to the Nokia handset portfolio that build on previous models. It's the first big reaction to the many new entrants that have arrived in the high end Internet phone market over the last two years (Google's Android, Apple, Palm's Pre etc.).

While the Nokia N97 that launched earlier this year used a variant of the same software used in every high end Nokia Internet phone for over five years -- Symbian Series 60 -- the N900 does not. For the first time, Nokia is launching a high end Internet phone using Linux. And note, The N900 is using Maemo, and not Android.

Nokia isn't positioning the N900 as a "smartphone". This is smart. Read why here: The "Smartphone" Is Dead: Long Live Smart Phones And Smart Gadgets.

This is a significant strategic play for Nokia as I warned clients was coming last year. I've seen the N900 and held it in my hands. It's impressive. But is it enough to help Nokia re-gain mindshare? Comment below! Or, contact me via the Forrester inquiry team (clients) or press office (media).

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Why Nokia is Launching a Netbook

By Ian Fogg (bio, recent research)

Today, Nokia announces its first netbook, called the Nokia Booklet 3G (press release, Nokia blog post). Like all netbooks, the Nokia Booklet 3G is essentially a miniature laptop PC and has more capability in common with the PC than with handheld devices like mobile phones. Despite misinformed advance speculation, the Booklet will run Windows and has an impressive claimed battery life of 12 hours.

In the flesh, the Booklet 3G has a neat modern design and a modern
metallic appearance case. The screen and keyboard are both relatively
large and well-proportioned.

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24x7 People and the Rise of 24x7 Social Computing

By Ian Fogg (bio, recent research)

Too many firms are building their mobile strategies as a mere extension of the PC Internet, and are missing out on what's now possible when mobile, but which remains impossible using a PC.

A PC is always going to be limited to deliver a part time Internet experience. They are too bulky, too heavy, too power hungry, and increasingly too dependent on the assumption that a super fast fixed-quality broadband connection is present to be something that people will have with them all of the time 24x7. If a PC evolved to be suitable for 24x7 use it wouldn't be a PC anymore.

Today's Internet mobiles offer people that 24x7 digital life. People are becoming connected 24x7 through their Internet phones and that must transform the strategies that firms adopt. Mobile enables a 24x7 relationship between brands and consumers. Mobile enables people to interact with websites 24x7, both to consume -- read and browse -- and to contribute. Mobile opens up new business models through the fusion of location awareness and a 24x7 Internet-connected device.

The first and clearest example of this new world is what's happening with social computing. People are now able to lurk on Facebook or Bebo at anytime, or post photos onto Flickr that are taggged with where they were taken (as well as when).

Read this new report for more on 24x7 people:-
How Mobile Handsets Will Deliver 24x7 Social Computing

I'll be developing this theme in future reports this year.

Mobile App Stores Represent the new Battleground

By Ian Fogg (bio, recent research)

At MWC, multiple companies have launched mobile application stores that seek to build upon Apple's iPhone success (Microsoft, Nokia, Orange, mPortico, Surfkitchen, Adtonic, PocketGear and others). These join existing announced app stores (including RIM, Google Android, Palm).

These are more than simple me-too initiatives.

Mobile app stores are not new. Palm, Handango and even Nokia with their Download! service pre-date Apple. Like the iPod, Apple was a follower -- rather than first mover -- that succeeded due to terrific execution and a clear strategy and market position. Apple benefits from the ease of commercial iPhone application distribution. Developers now prosper in a virtuous circle:

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