The Nokia N8: What It Means for Apple

By Rahul Dowlath | Apple

Some may argue that it’s way too early to be making assumptions of Nokia’s new hope, the N8 mobile phone announced earlier this week.

For those that don’t yet know, Nokia’s N8 mobile is a stylish, multitouch multi-media mobile with a 12-megapixel Carl Zeiss optics HD camera. And it runs Symbian 3, the new OS announced by Nokia and the Symbian Foundation earlier this year.

The N8, as I’ve mentioned, is the icon of hope for the fledgling mobile maker that was once the titan of cell phones across the world. Quite embarrassingly for the Finnish giant, they even lost face to young mobile up-start Apple in their home turf, Finland.

The thing is, Nokia didn’t play their cards right the first time round. When the mobile sphere began to evolve about three years ago, with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, Nokia focussed on enhancing the physical attributes — the hardware — of their devices, instead of working on their user experience. It stung Nokia painfully, and they feebly attempted to rectify their mistakes with the Ovi Store and Ovi Services.

However, just having an app store won’t cut it in this business. So that’s why they’ve decided to start afresh with a brand-spanking-new operating system, Symbian 3, that will be launched with the new N8.

Here’s the part where Apple needs to worry: Nokia, despite its few stumbles over the past few years, is seasoned as this game. They know how to play it right when they’ve got a fresh start; they proved this when they re-focused their business strategy from a pulp mill (believe it or not) to telecommunications equipment, and then consumer connectivity products.

It’s Symbian 3 that will win it for Nokia. This operating system is designed from the ground-up to be all that a mobile phone in this era needs to be: productive, intuitive and social. Right from the home screen, Nokia has integrated easy-access to your favorite social networks — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace. It’s a heck of a lot more informative than the iPhone’s meagre time and notifications blocks in the lock screen.

Sure, Apple’s got the style, but Nokia’s got the openness. Developers on the Apple platform must pay Apple $99 just to get their app on a physical phone to test (leave alone submitting it to the App Store), whereas on Nokia, with the new Qt framework and cross-platform development tools, programmers can get up-and-running building apps for the new Symbian 3 in no time, leverage current technologies like C/C++, saving time rather than having to learn a whole new environment and language (Cocoa on Mac).

Of course, we’ll have to see how Symbian 3 performs, and for that, we’ll have to wait ’till Q3 2010, when the N8 officially releases.

About the Author

I'm a young writer from South Africa, chronicling the changing tides in the ever-flowing river of technology. Focusing mainly on Apple-related technologies, I enjoy sharing my opinion and giving a few tips and tricks here and there on the latest and greatest from 1 Infinite Loop. I'm an avid blogger, and an even more avid reader.