Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nokia unveils their real iPhone killer

by alec on December 2, 2008

You may remember that a few months ago Nokia announced the MusicXPress 5800, their first touch screen phone.  Many thought that was their response to the iPhone, but perhaps not.  Nokia announced the N97 this morning at Nokia World.  Thank goodness, as the N96 has been a dud, demolished under the tidal wave created by Apple and it’s iPhone.  The N97, however, looks like the real deal.

Large touchscreen, full keyboard, 48M of storage, 5 megapixel camera, and widescreen video all add up to a technically impressive package.  With upgraded maps, the integrated Nokia Music Store, full flash support and Nokia’s “social location” technology as well it’s no wonder Robert Scoble dubbed this device the ultimate Facebook phone.

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Nokia folks are touting this as the ultimate internet device as well.  “We believe the internet is as it is, and we need to support it.”  Presumably that means that they already great web site rendering that prior N-series devices supported will be extended on this device.

For developers the N97 presents an interesting conundrum which hearkens back all the way to the early days of the Internet.  Netscape shipped a browser with several proprietary HTML tags, thus incenting developers to build sites that worked better with Netscape.  Microsoft did the same, and the result was a series of sites on the internet that were badged “Works best with…” one particular browser.  To a certain extent that war is still with us today.  Although browser differences are far fewer, site developers work around them.  This site, for example, has 3 separate style sheets, one each for IE 6, IE 7 and mozilla based browsers.

Will mobile developers now be faced with building versions of their sites that are webkit + flash compliant (for Nokia and Android devices), webkit – flash for Apple devices, and plain HTML for RIM and other devices?

Apple clearly has the upper hand for now.  They’re shipping massive volumes of one just very attractive device.  But what would happen if, for example, a series of N-97 like devices at various more consumer friendly price points were to appear?

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