Nokia: A great company producing great little apps (and phones!)

Most Americans I know settle for a Motorola cell phone. I personally think that Motorola phones have one of the worst user interface designs ever. True, their Razr V3 series look really slick on the outside but the embedded operating system is still pretty primitive.

Anyway, in countries in Europe and Asia, most people use a Nokia. Cell phones might be the one area where people in Asia are more technologically advanced compared to their American counterparts. In fact, Nokia notices this too: Asian denizens are more likely to buy new cell phones (or hand phones as they are called there) even if the cost of one is about 2000 dollars in local currency!

What about smartphones? Treo 650's and the rest. Yeah, sure America's wireless companies support smart phones. Hmmm... aren't they just some niche market just like what the Tablet PC is in the computer industry? Heck, don't take my word for it, listen to this guy:

Russell Beattie Notebook - Smart Phones Are One Handed Devices: "Hey, okay. So I can see the new browser is pretty neat, and hell, Palm as a real multi-tasking OS is something to get a little jazzed about. But judging from the pics of the Qool Palm phone there's some disconnect in what I'm reading. Here's a little lesson in mobile nomenclature: If you can't use the phone with one hand, it's not a smart phone. Got it? It's pretty simple. It's a PDA Phone or a Communicator or something. Whatever it is, it's not a smart phone. It's a relic. An elecronic organizer with an antenna. An anachronism. A soon-to-be market failure. Get the idea?"

Let's go over this again: If it doesn't have a keypad? It's not a smart phone. If you have to use a pen? It's not a smart phone...

And because Nokia is smart enough to use the Symbian OS on most of their high end phones, they can get other people to develop software for their phones. Forget Java MIDP applications, those are really slow and contrary to what people advocate, they do not follow the write once, run anywhere mantra. What I would really like to see would be Irb running on a Symbian phone.

Well, the program that I am most intrigued with now is Nokia Lifeblog. It lets you take photos and videos on your Nokia cell phone and then upload it to your blog, complete with text as well. This is really what having a camera on your cell phone is all about. I think it is really neat to be able to go on some trip and post live photos of what you are doing to your friends and families. Someone should hold a competition for this. Remember, if there is indeed a competition for cell phone photo blogging, you heard it here first. If you want a more down to earth review of LifeBlog, read this article.

Well, what else can a Nokia do that other cell phones cannot? Actually, cell phones that run Symbian OS can do what Nokia phones are capable of. How about ssh on your cell phone? Unbelievable? Believe it. David Heinemeier Hansson has a list of his applications that he runs on his Nokia 6630. Want another list? Try Russell Beatie's here.

What about my cell phone? Don't have one yet. I am still waiting for the FCC to approve the N90, the new Nokia cell phone with a 2 mega-pixel camera. That will certainly keep my fingers snapping like crazy.

Update: By the way, I forgot to mention, there is also an increased risk for viruses to attack Nokia Series 60 phones. Engadget (Aug 11, 2005) reports that there is a mass outbreak of the Cabir virus in Finland infecting Nokia Series 60 phones via bluetooth. Also, for a more comprehensive review of some of the other malicious code that attack cell phones, read Mobile Phones: The Next Frontier for Hackers? published in IEEE Computer Magazine in April 2005. So, there might be some advantage to sticking with lesser known brands.

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