Nokia converges convergent devices

In a somewhat recursive move, Nokia has decided to converge their high-end Series 90 operating system with their middle-of-the-road Series 60 system. Basically this will bring multimedia and touchscreen features to the Series 60 OS, enabling more varied application of the currently phone-centric Series 60.


Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, said on Wednesday it will create a single software platform for smart mobile phones that double as TVs, MP3 players, radios and e-mail devices. The company’s chief executive, Jorma Ollila, told its annual Mobility conference, which was webcast, that the company’s Series 90 software suite will be folded into Series 60.

Series 90 was slated to be the software engine for a range of entertainment and TV phones, while Series 60 is the most popular platform for smartphones used today, which have more limited entertainment functions and feature a smaller vertical display compared with entertainment phones.

“We’re merging Series 90 into Series 60 into one robust platform,” Ollila said.


As my friend the Palm OS developer always says: PDAs are dead man, smartphones are where it’s at.

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  1. Hmm.. Nokia claims that the Series 60 phones are “smartphones”. Is this so? I think not.

    Here is a very basic comparison between Nokia Series 60 phones and the Palm III PDA released 7 years ago:

    I’ve been trying Nokia smartphones. I don’t like the 9300 and the 9500 smartphones, so I decided to go for a Series 60 device such as Nokia 6670.

    It is very interesting to take a Palm III which was released about 7 years ago and compare the PDA functions with the functions of a modern Nokia Series 60 smartphone.

    Most Nokia Series 60 phones have hardware that is far superior to the hardware of the Palm IIIxe. Let?s compare the hardware of the two devices:

    Nokia 6670

    Released: very recently
    CPU: 123 MHz (32-bit ARM-9)
    RAM: 8 MB
    Screen resolution: 176×208 pixels, 65536 colors
    Memory extension: MMC extension card

    Palm IIIxe

    Released: 7 years ago
    CPU: 16 MHz (Motorola 68328 Dragonball)
    RAM: 8 MB
    Screen resolution: 160×160 pixels, 16 shades of gray
    Memory extension: none

    So, a Nokia Series 60 phone is more powerful than a Palm IIIxe. Now, let?s compare the software.

    TO-DO List. The TO DO list is a basic but very important PDA application. A business person typically has a lot of items on his TO DO list. The items are usually long ? for example ?Discuss the enhanced engine project with Tim and the board?.

    Palm IIIxe: on the Palm IIIxe, the long items will appear word-wrapped on the TO DO list, so the user is able to see the whole TO DO item.

    Nokia Series 60: on a Nokia Series 60 phone, the long items will be cut short ? for example, the item above will appear like this:

    ?Discuss the enhanc??

    So for serious use, the Nokia Series 60 TO DO List is almost useless. Also, for some unknown reason Nokia has chosen big fonts for their TO DO List application, so only a few TO DO items are visible.

    Notes or Memo. This basic application is also very important for a PDA or smartphone. A busy business person will have a lot of notes.

    Palm IIIxe: the first line of every note is considered the title of that note. The notes are shown sorted by title. So if I have a lot of notes, when I?m searching for a note named ?Shopping list? I know where to find it ? it starts with S, so I know its relative position among the other notes, because the notes are sorted by title. Palm IIIxe also offers a powerful search function.

    Nokia Series 60: the notes are sorted by the date they were entered at. If I search for a note called ?Shopping list?, or ?Shirt size?, I?m plain out of luck ? I have to go through every note.

    There are many other differences.

    What is my point with this comparison?

    The Nokia Series 60 phones claim to be ?smartphones?. Yet, the Palm IIIxe released 7 years ago is way better than Nokia Series 60 phones because of its software.

    The problems that I described are not minor glitches ? they are very important usability problems.

    So ? when will Nokia fix this? Being a developer myself, I estimate that the changes described above and the needed testing amounts to very few work hours.

    Yet, the result would be a large leap in usability as a smartphone.

    My advice for the Nokia Series 60 phones developers: buy an old Palm III, use it for a month. See in which ways it is better than a Series 60 phone.

    Then, when making the next version of Series 60, incorporate some of the changes.

    I consider that currently Nokia Series 60 phones do not deserve to be called smartphones. That name will be deserved only after they are at least comparable with the Palm III PDA released 7 years ago.

  2. …but can you make GSM phone calls and browse the web on a Palm III? 😉

    Seriously, I can see where you’re coming from, but the Series 60 is really just a phone with some bits of PDA functionality tacked on. You’d be better served comparing the Palm III to a Treo 650 or iMate or something like that.

  3. No, I can’t make phone calls from the Palm III.

    But Nokia claims that the Series 60 phones are “smartphones”.

    A smartphone, in my opinion (and by popular definition) is a device which includes the functionality of 2 devices: a mobile phone and a PDA.

    Since a Series 60 phone is weak compared to a Palm III PDA, a Series 60 phone can not be called a smartphone.

    Calling a Series 60 phone a smartphone is misleading to the customer. Nokia is simply lieing that it’s a smartphone, when in fact it’s not.

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