Thursday, October 2, 2008

Nokia unveils iPhone competitor

by alec on October 2, 2008

You might not be aware of this, but there’s just been an earthquake in Finland. Figuratively speaking, anyway.  Said earthquate occurred at precisely 12:30 PM EDT, today.  That was the moment that Nokia took the wraps off its real competitor to iPhone.

Specifically, three announcements were made:

Nokia unveiled the 5800 XpressMusic (press release, datasheet).  It’s the first mass-market device from Nokia with touch-screen technology.  As you can see from the video, it looks very familiar, being a Symbian OS with touch capabilities built in.  At the same time, it has some familiar elements of other touch screen interfaces we’ve seen such as easy fingertip transitions.  You might also note in the video that at times the demonstrator seems to be pushing on the screen.  The 5800 XpressMusic also includes haptics to provide tactile feedback to the user. Check it out.

Comes with Music (press release, backgrounder) is Nokia’s new digital entertainment service.  When you buy a supported Nokia device, including the NSeries, any of the XPressMusic phones and some other mass market phones, Nokia gives you access to the Nokia Music store at no additional charge for an entire year.  Download (and keep) as many tracks as you like. This is not a subscription.  You get to download and keep as many tracks as your heart desires. Tracks are delivered in Windows Media format, with DRM.

S60 5th Edition (press release) was also introduced.  This latest operating system release includes support for new displays, the touch UI, a widescreen mode, a variety of new sensor support, and updated applications and browser support.  Wonderfully cool things are possible with the new sensor support, like being able to stop the ringer by picking the phone up and putting it back down face down.

A touch screen phone and operating system were not unexpected.  After all, Nokia had to respond to Apple’s phenomenal success with iPhone.  However, the gutsy decision to give away the music goes straight after Apple’s cash cow, iTunes.

Scorched earth is a powerful offensive posture.  One wonders what kind of deal with the devil RIAA Nokia had to agree to in order to gain the rights to distribute all those tracks for no money… and what the impact will be on their bottom line.

Look for 5800 XpressMusic devices with North American standard radios to land here Q1 2009. Exciting times are ahead.

Related links:

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic aka the Tube released plus first hands-on

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic: Hands-on With Nokia’s First S60 Touch Phone

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic hands-on

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Credit crunch slams carriers

by alec on October 2, 2008

A number of stories hit the wire yesterday about how the credit crunch is impacting carriers.  AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Tuesday that his company is unable to sell commercial paper for terms any longer than overnight.

It’s not that short-term borrowing is unreasonably expensive, Stephenson said. A shortage of buyers for the debt means such borrowing is not as readily available as it had been even three weeks ago, he said.

Meanwhile, Sprint continues to reel, as credit downgrades and now the subprime mortgage crisis hit it.

Sprint has made some progress in reducing its exposure to customers affected by subprime problems through the tightening of credit checks, the company’s iDEN network, acquired in its 2005 purchase of Nextel, continues to lose high-revenue-generating customers.

As we discussed on Tuesday’s Squawkbox, some of the hardest hit will be infrastructure providers who depend on debt to build out and maintain their networks.

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