Scobleizer and our own Scott Merrill are both in Barcelona this week to see the latest from Nokia in the upcoming year. The promise, according to Scoble, is a device that will be a game changer for Nokia. Here's what he heard:
When we got here a Nokia executive met me and bragged that the Internet has no clue what they will announce this week. I asked "what about the touch screen cell phone that I've seen rumors about?" He said that no one had gotten it right yet. The announcements are on Wednesday morning (it's early Monday morning as I post this) so we'll have to wait to see what they announce. He told me this is one of the only times he can remember when a big announcement has not leaked.
I don't know much about leaks, but they usually happen when an interested party outside of the company pressures an interested party inside the company. This would require, obviously, someone outside of the Nokia to care about anything Nokia was launching, especially in the wake of the Storm and the Bold that launched a few weeks ago. That's right: I posit that no one cared enough to sexually blackmail a Nokia employee for details on the new phones.
I may be reading this wrong. Perhaps the internal seals are strong and no amount of Dom Perignon and truffles could prise the information out of Nokia's core leadership. I'm also willing to accept that Nokia is a leader in this business. Their phones are popular because they work in a multitude of environments and their name is synonymous with quality. But the days of Nokia's leadership in mobile technology – at least in the war of ideas – are probably numbered unless something amazing happens between now and Wednesday.
As Scoble writes, the iPhone has more apps, business types still love them some RIM, and emerging middle classes know they don't want a blocky handset once they make their first few thousand.
Symbian needs to leave. It is a strong platform that saw its day but now it is a major hindrance to the growth of the Nokia platform. “But what about old apps!” you cry. What about them? Recompile them under the new platform. What about my comfort level with the OS? When you picked up an iPhone there were no cues as to what to press to get your email. You just pressed the little email button. Try getting to an application in Symbian in one click if you've never used the OS.
My hope is this: Nokia did it right. They sat all of their best engineers in a room with pizza and coffee and told them to make a better phone. I hope they asked them to throw away everything they knew about phone making and just built something great. If they didn't, if they made about XPressMusic 5300 with touchscreen and very little else to recommend it, I'm worried.