are creeping back into the mobile space, as expected, with the unexpected #N1
. The news has recently told how #Microsoft
is already dropping the Nokia name from its #Lumia
phones, which is much sooner than Microsoft had actually licensed the trademark for, so it seems like everything has changed since the deal to sell-off Nokia's mobile devices division was announced. In fact, in all my years of covering tech, I've learned to disregard any announcements that talk about deals more than a couple of months out, as plans invariably change, so you can't take any press releases as gospel.
The N1 hardware looks sleek and sexy, and interestingly is running a Baytrail processor rather than an ARM derivative.
Another clue that something like this would have happened was that Nokia had been running a closed beta of its own home screen named "Z Launcher". I've trailed this launcher, and to be honest I found it quite underwhelming. It's a neat idea - just write on the screen the first letter or two for the app you want and launch it. It also learns the apps you most frequently and provides shortcuts to them. However, that's as far as its predictive behaviour goes, there's nothing like the level of prediction that Google Now integration gives you.
There's two ways that this can go - either Nokia will follow up with an Android powered smartphone, or the N1 will be yet another in the long line of orphaned devices from Nokia.
Nokia has a really bad track record of developing fantastically novel devices, and then never following up in any meaningful way. However, Nokia is now a much different company than it was. It may even be more appropriate to think of it as being in a Startup mode.
If Nokia does follow up with a line of Android smartphones, it will be a great irony given the debate over whether Nokia should have gone Android or Windows Phone. It could have gone with Android, but it didn't, but if it does now it will be doing so with far less talent and manpower than it had before. I lack the knowledge of the internal dynamics of Nokia to know whether that's actually a good or a bad thing.
There are those who said that Nokia didn't really have a choice in going with Windows Phone or not; mainly because it couldn't have differentiated itself from the competition. I was always uncomfortable with this viewpoint as Nokia's key differentiator has always been its hardware. The quality and creativity that came out of Finland for the past decade is what won it a considerable amount of brand loyalty, and is exactly what the new
Nokia will be trading on now with the N1 tablet.
One thing that Nokia was very canny to hold onto in its final deal with Microsoft was the #HERE
location services division. Samsung have been rolling out HERE maps in its devices, and I've been told that HERE Maps will hit the Google Play Store ... eventually. Having a strong location service layer that replaces Google Maps will be a strong differentiator, as it would have been three years ago!
I really want to see Nokia do well, but I'm not at all confident that this tablet will rekindle its fortunes. Nokia needs to prove it can get into new device classes and actually STICK with them, rather than losing interest after their launch. Secondly, the Z Launcher isn't all that great, and it's much more appropriate for use on a single handed device (i.e. a phone), than it is on a tablet.