Nokia is looking out for its visually impaired cell phone users. While most blind people have no problem using cell phones—reading text messages presents a challenge. Short of dynamic polymers to magically create bumps on a touch screen to simulate Braille, it takes some ingenuity to try and solve this problem.
Screen reading software has been around for some time and provides an adequate solution to phone navigation and text messaging. However, a silent implementation remained out-of-reach until recently. Nokia Labs developed a solution for its latest touch screen phones that uses a combination of tactile vibration techniques to simulate Braille reading.
Nokia last week confirmed plans to release a netbook under the 'Nokia Booklet 3G' moniker, but other than a claimed 12-hour battery life, the handset-maker has kept tight-lipped about what's inside its first netbook. Until now.
Under the hood, the Booklet 3G will sport an Intel Atom Z350 processor (1.6GHz), 1GB of DDR2-533 memory soldered to the motherboard, and a 120GB hard drive with 8MB of cache. Other goodies include 802.11 a/b/g/n, 3G/HSPA with hot swappable sim card, an HDMI port, 1.3MP webcam, and a 16 cell battery.
On the software front, Nokia's netbook will be built around Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 OS and come pre-loaded with a couple of trialware apps, including MS Office Small Business and F-Secure Internet Security 2010.
Nokia on Thursday officially unveiled its N900 smartphone. Built around the open-source, Linux-based Maemo software, Nokia says you can expect "a PC-like experience on a handset-sized device."
Under the hood, the N900 sports an ARM Coretex-A8 CPU, up to 1GB of application memory, and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration. According to Nokia, this combination gives the end-user PC-like multitasking, allowing many applications to run simultaneously.
Other features include a high-res WVGA touchscreen, full Adobe Flash 9.4 support, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, 32GB of storage expandable up to 48GB via a microSD card, and a built-in 5MB camera with Carl Zeiss optics.
Nokia says the N900 will launch in October for select markets at a price of 500 EUR, or about $718 USD.
Asustek may have put its plans to develop an Android-based smartbook on the back burner but that is unlikely to deter other companies from dabbling in smartbooks. According to Digitimes, Taiwan’s leading technology rumormonger, Nokia is said to be working on an ARM-based smartbook. The news comes from Digitimes’ sources at Taiwanese handset makers.
Rumored no more, Nokia today finally confirmed plans to release a netbook, or a mini-laptop if you'd prefer to call it that. As for Nokia, it's calling the portable PC the Nokia Booklet 3G.
The Booklet 3G weighs less than 3 pounds (1.25kg) and measures just over 2cm. It boasts a 10-inch glass HD ready display, an Intel Atom processor, built-in A-GPS (works with Ovi Maps), WiFi, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader. But the biggest spec might be the claimed 12 hour battery.
"Nokia has a long and rich heritage in mobility and with the outstanding battery life, premium design, and all day, always on connectivity, we will create something quite compelling," Nokia wrote in a press release. "In doing so, we will make the personal computer more social, more helpful, and more personal."
Nokia said it will unveil other details, including detailed specifications, availability, and price at Nokia World on September 2, 2009.
According to Gartner, Inc., a business technology research company, cell phone sales totaled 286.1 million units during the second quarter of this year – a 6.1 percent decrease over the second quarter of last year. But, smart phone sales picked up considerable steam surpassing 40 million units in sales, a 27 percent increase from the second quarter of last year.
“Despite the challenging market, some devices sold well as consumers who would usually have purchased standard midrange devices either cut back to less expensive handsets or moved up the range to get more features for their money,” stated Carolina Milanesi, a research director at Gartner. “Touchscreen and qwerty devices remained a major driver for replacement sales and benefited manufacturers with strong, touch-focused midtier devices. However, the decline in average selling price (ASP) accelerated in the first half of the year and particularly affected manufacturers that focus on midtier and low-end devices, where margins are already slim.”
A great deal of this is credited to Apple’s expansion to a larger number of countries, which has had a clear effect on volume. Still though, companies like Nokia with their N97 and Research In Motion (RIM) with their popular BlackBerry line continued to dominate the number one and two positions respectively.
In the movie Braveheart, there's a pivotal scene involving Mel Gibson and a Scottish battalion where, as William Wallace, he tries to muster some courage from his ragtag company. Face painted blue and half-hysterical, he rallies them with a memorable speech about freedom and love of country. Then, the army proceeds to completely destroy the foreign oppressor in a fight to the bitter end.
In some ways, the current war on smartphone devices could be just as pivotal...and bloody. Companies such as Palm and Nokia have everything to lose if their platforms do not thoroughly crush the competition. Meanwhile, Apple has taken a strong lead with the iPhone, and BlackBerry devices do not appear to be losing any momentum, at least in the business sector. Google has entered the fight with their Android OS, attracting legions of developers to the platform in record time.
All of these operating systems support touch control, rudimentary multi-tasking, rich media, desktop-like Web browsing, and advanced messaging. Yet, only one OS is superior and will ultimately emerge as the victor. It might seem like Apple has already had their Braveheart moment, and maybe there is room for several companies at the top of the pile, but if Windows has taught us anything, it's that a single operating system can become so dominant that every other desktop OS becomes inconsequential. Developers lock into a platform, users get accustomed to it, and that OS wins the war.
We set out to put the major contenders to the test and find out which could become the most dominant. Really, it's too early to call Apple the victor, even though it would be easy to do so with 50,000 apps available and over a million iPhone users. As any technology analyst can tell you, there are actually significantly more Nokia and BlackBerry phones in use today than the iPhone, especially in Europe. The surprise is that the OS that seems to be winning the battle (the iPhone) may not eventually win the OS war in the long run.
Just over a year ago, Finnish mobile firm Nokia acquired Symbian, a move that put the handset maker in direct competition with Google and Apple for mobile internet market share. But despite a vested interest in sticking with its Symbian platform, word on the web is that Nokia is developing a mobile phone powered by Google's open-source Android OS.
Nokia's decision came after seeng its global smartphone market share drop from 47 percent in 2007 to 35 percent last summer and 31 percent by the start of 2008. That's a frightening trend for a company which makes about four out of every 10 mobile phones being sold.
The smartphone maker has been doing everything it can to remain relevant in the mobile sector, including forging an alliance with Intel to develop a new breed of Intel Architecture-based mobile devices.
Rumors of Nokia’s entry into the netbook market have persisted since last year. The whole idea of Nokia entering the netbook market seems even more tenable now that Nokia and Intel have announced a new partnership. But Acer chairman JT Wang isn’t too bothered by the prospect of Nokia entering the netbook market. He further told Digitimes that PC vendors would gain more business from telecom providers. He believes PC vendors would become better poised – as compared to handset vendors - to do business with telecom providers within one year as the use of netbooks for accessing 3G services is becoming increasingly popular.
This partnership is a huge shot in the arm for Intel - which has been waiting for its chance to gain real traction in the mobile phone market - as it has found a huge customer for its mobile chipsets in the form of Nokia. Intel has also agreed to acquire a Nokia HSPA/3G modem IP license from Nokia. On the software front, they have resolved to give a push to open-source mobile Linux software projects.