I can’t say that this should come as a surprise. I saw the writing on the wall months ago, but now my fears have been confirmed: HP is killing off its webOS development and products. The company that we all thought could save Palm’s last golden egg instead publicly crucified the platform, never giving it a chance to blossom into a real competitor. The death of webOS was drawn out and painful. Worse yet, it could have been prevented.
Let’s turn back the clock a year or so: HP buys Palm at the end of last year as the father of the PDA flounders under debt and its own inability to successfully market its new webOS platform. WebOS is a powerful, capable platform yearning for the hardware and developer support that it can truly leverage. HP vows to offer webOS that support by bringing the software to tablets, new smartphones, PCs and printers. Then comes February of this year, a day I affectionately called “The Resurrection of WebOS”, when HP shows off stellar new hardware offerings: the tiny Veer, the powerful new Pre 3, and the TouchPad tablet rocking webOS 3.0. Next in the timeline…. nothing. The same catastrophic mistake that Palm made with the original Pre and webOS repeated itself. HP waited far too long to release these new products, clearly demonstrating that these were not completed products but only targets. The Veer was released in mid-May to a lukewarm reception, 3 months after its initial announcement. The Veer was a cute, low-end smartphone, but in no way an appropriate choice as the flagship for the relaunching of this platform. Where was the Pre 3? Continue Reading
Late last year Nokia was in trouble. Once the world’s most popular mobile phone maker and a leader in the smartphone market, the Finnish company had fallen on hard times. Stagnation was the prognosis. Nokia’s once powerful Symbian operating system had become antiquated, its hardware representative of old-world thinking. Nokia’s platform was “burning”. In a desperate attempt at moving to a more modern platform, Nokia chose to refocus their efforts on Windows Phone 7.
Yet before the move to WP7, Nokia was internally working on a new platform. Called MeeGo, the operating system was a fusion of Nokia and Intel’s two existing Linux platforms: Maemo and Moblin, respectively. The final product would have allowed for a modern, scalable OS that could be used on both smartphones and netbooks. Yet over a year after MeeGo’s announcement, nothing materialized. With Nokia dropping Symbian and moving to WP7, MeeGo looked like nothing more than an experimental OS.
Finally, that experiment is a reality, if only briefly. Yesterday Nokia announced the world’s first MeeGo-based smartphone: the N9. The device continues Nokia’s penchant for finesse and quality. A high strength plastic unibody enclosure holds a modern 1Ghz processor, 3.9″ AMOLED display, NFC chip, and is the first all-touch phone with no physical buttons on the front panel. Nokia is touting the rear camera as one of the best ever at 8MP, wide-range 28mm Carl Zeiss lens, and wicked fast response time.
The real magic is in the software though. Nokia’s UI interface is deceptively simple, with only three screens. One is the app launcher, another is notifications for email, social networks, texting, and the phone; and the last is the multitasking app switcher. These three screens are remarkably powerful and yet simple to use. It makes it all the more of a shame that Nokia won’t take MeeGo seriously.
The N9 will most likely be one of the only MeeGo phones to ever reach market as Nokia begins to ramp up production of the new Mango-refreshed WP7 phone. It’s almost frustrating that Nokia is teasing us like this. Hopefully Nokia can see how the press are raving about MeeGo and revise their roadmap to keep this promising software alive. Until then, this phone may be a reality, but it’s still an experiment.
Last year, in a vain attempt to create some sort of quarterly feature, I published the “State of the Telecoms” accessing each of the four major carriers and their pros and cons. I think it was a pretty dry post. So instead, I’ve decided this year to focus in on what you guys really want. Specifically, the phones that really stand out from each carrier. In the end, that’s what draw people to carriers now. So here’s how this breaks down, I will list no less than 3, but no more than 6 phones from each carrier. They cannot all have the same operating system and can’t all be essentially the same phone. There has to be some kind of diversity for a phone to make the “recommended list”. So for example, the Samsung Continuum won’t make the list for Verizon because it’s basically a Galaxy S, which Verizon already has a version of. The point of this break down is to highlight the best phones from each carrier and show the diversity in their line up. And it’s only going to be smart phones. Continue Reading
The mobile scene has been on fire in the past week or so, and all of this has culminated at the Mobile World Congress going on now in Barcelona. Today, Microsoft head Steve Ballmer presented the latest updates to the Windows Phone 7 operating system, coming in March. Much like Apple finally implemented, WP7 now has 3rd party multitasking – via a card system very much like webOS – and copy/paste. Why these features weren’t there in the first place is beyond me, but at least it didn’t take three (or four) iterations to include these features…. Apple. Along for the ride as well is a new browser using the much faster and more modern IE9 underpinnings (allowing for hardware acceleration), Twitter integration and finally support for CDMA (Verizon and Sprint customers).
It’s good to see Microsoft being pretty quick with updates. I said from the beginning that the only way Microsoft could be successful was by issuing updates often, showing that they are constantly improving the platform. These updates should placate those who felt WP7 was lacking a bit.