Posted by: patdavila | December 9, 2009

Nokia goes limp while Android mutates into a juggernaut

So let me start this post by saying I have a Nokia N800 internet tablet and I absolutely love the device. Maemo is based off of Debian and is the closest full blown Linux running on consumer level devices. It’s a great little device. Think of it as a full blown mini Linux computer that fits in your pocket. It’s very easy for developers to port over the best desktop Linux applications to Maemo. The build quality of N* series internet tablets is excellent. I’ve dropped my N800 on a hard floor on more than one occasion and it’s never been damaged. The thing is just built solidly. Many times I’ve thought to myself the Nokia N8100/810 devices would be perfect if it included a cell phone. Fast forward to a several months ago and rumors surfaced of the N900 and that it would include a cell phone! The dream of a mass market Linux based phone has been something I’ve been looking forward to since the early rumblings of the OpenMoko project. Cell phone service in N.America is very closed and tightly controlled. Anything forcing carriers to open things up and make phones more portable is a good thing. Google announced that they would be pushing their own Linux based phone operating system called Android back in late 2007. The first phone released with Android was the G1 on the T-mobile network back in October, 2008. Initially the adoption was slow with newer phones starting to trickle through by the second half of 2009. T-mobile in the U.S. is one of the smaller cell carriers unlike their German parent which is massive. Fast forward to November 6 and Verizon (one of the biggest mobile carriers in the U.S.) released two Android based phones. The Droid (known as the Milestone in Europe) and the Eris. Verizon also started a massive marketing campaign targeting AT&T (their primary rival) and the iPhone. The marketing campaign caused a serious buzz leading up to November 6th roll out that the press picked up on. The Droid sells for $199 with a 2 year contract. The results have been amazing. Verizon is on target to sell 1 million Droid phones in under 2 months time! Compare this to Nokia and the release of the N900. No U.S. based carrier is offering the N900 for a subsidized price. You can buy an unlocked N900 for around $500 online. There has been zero marketing done in N.America for the N900. I’d love to check it out in person if I could actually find one. The messages from Nokia have been mixed. Talk to anyone related to the Maemo project and they claim Nokia will make Maemo a cornerstone of their future plans. All their actions point to the contrary. Anytime Nokia makes an announcement they seem to only talk about the crusty old Symbian phone OS that’s very prevalent on older and low end phones. Nokia you have failed us in North America. Who in their right mind would shell out $500 for the N900 when you pick up a very capable Android phone with thousands of applications for $0-$199? The only people I can think of are uber geeks with lots of discretionary income who adore the N8** series devices. The N900 is sadly doomed to failure.

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