Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

Summary: Nokia has unveiled its Meego-based handset, the N9. This is a stop-gap handset release (one of a few planned) that will happen as the company transitions into being a Windows Phone OEM. Success or failure of the N9 hinges on two factors, and neither have anything to do with whether Meego has a good app ecosystem or not.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Nokia, Hardware, Mobility
15

Nokia has unveiled its Meego-based handset, the N9. This is a stop-gap handset release (one of a few planned) that will happen as the company transitions into being a Windows Phone OEM. Success or failure of the N9 hinges on two factors, and neither have anything to do with whether Meego has a good app ecosystem or not.

Check out the Nokia N9 image gallery!

First, a quick run-down of the N9.

  • Solid handset, as you'd expect from Nokia. Unibody design. Certainly sexy-lookin'!
  • 3.9 inch curved glass AMOLED display.
  • Comes in three colours: black, cyan and magenta.
  • Storage capacities of 16GB and 64GB.
  • Meego OS, probably a dead-end in terms of gaining any real traction, but that doesn't matter.
  • Clean design, no front-facing buttons.
  • Swipe gesture to take you to the home screen.
  • Three hone views, arranged in a carousel - Applications. Events. Open apps.
  • 8MP auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics, dual LED flash and super wide 28mm lens.
  • Browser based on WebKit.
  • Built-in mapping.
  • Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus support.
  • NFC (Near-Field Communication) enabled.

With the exception of the Meego OS (which I honestly think no one will care about), it's a solid handset. It's exactly what I would have expected from Nokia.

So, what will determine whether the N9 will be a success or a failure? Two things:

  • Pricing This is an obvious factor, but I can't shed that feeling that Nokia will try to attach a premium price tag to this handset despite it having an OS that no one has heard of or cares about, has little or no app ecosystem and is up against stiff competition. Nokia needs to realize its position in the market and price accordingly.
  • Launch markets Who's going to get their hands on this device? When? What about carrier partners? Deals? One of the biggest holdbacks for Microsoft and it's Windows Phone platform has been the carrier's reluctance to actually try to sell the handset to people - there are easier handsets to sell. Nokia needs to make sure that it has the carriers on board.

Get both of these ring, and the no-name OS and lack of apps won't matter as there are still plenty of people willing to pay for a feature phone as opposed to a smartphone.
Given that Nokia has already said that it expects that 'operating margin could be around breakeven' for the second quarter 2011, I don't think even Nokia itself has much confidence in the N9 to change its fortunes that much. Still, the N9 gives us a good idea as to what kind of hardware Nokia will have running the Windows Phone OS later this year.

Topics: Nokia, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

15 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • This is not a stop gap phone? What does that mean to you?

    This phone was planned, designed, and a known product for over a year to follow the N900.

    All the Nokia Internet Tablet series devices (I own an N800), have debian-based Linux with the Maemo UI running on them. Maemo merged with the Linux Foundation-based Meego project.

    The UX for a Netbook, Tablet, Smartphone all can be ported on top of Meego to the specific needs of the vendor and device.

    The experience I have had with Nokia devices leads me to believe that this will be a fine phone that will best the N95 (which I own) in engineering standards and overall performance.

    The fact that is runs Meego is not to my thinking a negative based on my experience with Maemo's UI.

    Let's just try to be a bit more objective about things which don't resemble Microsoft based incarnations.

    Based on my experience, I have never had a better designed smartphone than Nokia's N95 and I can say that drawing a direct comparison to my Samsung Galaxy S which is revolutionary--but the quality does not approach that of Nokia engineering.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
    • When you make a

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate

      180 degree turn, anything that has been "planned, designed, and a known product for over a year to follow the N900" is essentially irrelevant and "stop gap". Period.
      Economister
  • Verizon Reluctance

    There's no doubt that Verizon actively tries not to sell their lone WP7 option, the HTC Trophy. I've gone into five separate Verizon stores and only one had a Trophy, which was non-functional. Verizon is so focused on selling DRIOD's that WP7 doesn't even register in their retail experience. I don't know what the answer is, but M$ had better figure this one out before Mango phones hit the shelves late this year. Again, this shows a tremendous lack of marketing ability on the part of M$.
    jjworleyeoe
  • Verizon Reluctance

    There's no doubt that Verizon actively tries not to sell their lone WP7 option, the HTC Trophy. I've gone into five separate Verizon stores and only one had a Trophy, which was non-functional. Verizon is so focused on selling DRIOD's that WP7 doesn't even register in their retail experience. I don't know what the answer is, but M$ had better figure this one out before Mango phones hit the shelves late this year. Again, this shows a tremendous lack of marketing ability on the part of M$.
    jjworleyeoe
  • Proofread... please!

    "Get both of these ring..." ???
    davepowell
  • These two factors of failure are "Nokia" and "N9"?

    The subject.
    DDERSSS
  • RE: Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

    Does anyone believe that if this unit is a runaway success, the Meego line will be killed anyway because Elop made a speech dedicating Nokia's future to Microsoft?

    Nokia is too big a company not to hedge the bet on WP. Sure, the strategy sounds reasonable, the name "Windows" still sounds like "success," yadda yadda, but as in everything else in business, the real question is, "What have you done for me lately?" Has Microsoft really had a blockbuster hit -- of the sort that Nokia shareholders should bet their company on -- in twenty years? Not that I can see. To me it makes perfect sense to keep a few 'skunkworks' projects alive in case the Future According To Ballmer does not appear.
    Robert Hahn
    • Fine, but

      @Robert Hahn

      all their public statements makes such a "plan B" likely to fail. They are killing their old "brand" to switch to MS, and revitalizing a killed "brand" in this highly competitive business is unlikely to succeed.

      Besides, that "plan B" already failed once, which is why they went to MS in the first place.
      Economister
      • It's a phone

        I don't get the sense that very many people outside these geek blogs could tell you the difference between Android and Meego, or between either of them and iOS. It's "the phone," and this one is even a Nokia phone (which I'm assured is a HotThing around the world). If it's pretty (it appears to be) and sleek, and priced right, they'll sell a bunch to people who don't know Meego from Yugo.
        Robert Hahn
  • RE: Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

    Success or failure? Are you kidding us? The phone is OBS before even being released. Meego died as soon as they (Nokia) started sucking MS teet.
    timspublic1@...
    • Funny, but true (nt)

      @timspublic1@...

      NT
      Economister
  • When something better looms, stopgap products should be temporary,

    and replaceable with the newer and better once those are available.

    People are not going to purchase a product if it's going to be replaced by the same company with a newer and better product down the line, and the stopgap product might be turned into a dinosaur with no support.

    Products such as the N9 should be offered as "guaranteed for trade-up or upgrade" when the newer product is released, and the trade-up should be as close to "free" as possible. In the minimum, the stopgap product should be "capable" of running WP7 or Windows 8 for phones, once those OSes become available.
    adornoe
    • RE: Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

      @adornoe@...

      Hmm. The N9 has no front buttons, like the 3 buttons required for Windows Phone. Then again, Nokia negotiated some freedom how they implement Windows Phone.

      Before Elop presented the Sea Ray, the first Nokia Windows Phone, he said the innovation, the UX and the industrial design from the N9 would live on.

      What if you could update the N9 with Windows Phone and use the Nokia Swipe concept to replace the Windows Phone buttons? Swipe from the right edge to the left for the multitask UI and select something you were doing. Or swipe again for the Start screen. Or swipe again to Bing.
      Forrestall
  • RE: Nokia N9 - Success or failure depends on two factors

    Looks like Nokia's strategy is desperately in need to sell something to make some dough. I don't blame them. However, the new product is not really inspiring at all, coupled with the "premium-priced" attitude for their products is not going to cut them back and relax.

    It was said to be designed for use even with just one hand. Seriously, where is the economics of ergonomics vs. practicality? Display too small hurts the struggling eye. Hands too big resulted in pressing other things. Hands too small, resulted in using two hands nevertheless.

    All-in-all, the OS is almost unheard of. Not many followers too. Not widely available to followers to develop fantastic apps.

    Remember this...the more private you are, the more people don't even know your existence or help you when you needed it. Growth stuns. Compare this with Android.
    kumseng.tkseng@...
  • Rest of World vs States

    I'm not sure where everyone else stays (from the above commenters) but Nokia is still a big name and people do buy Nokia phones bcoz they are Nokia. If Nokia phones do not pick up in USA does not mean the rest of world cares, as far we are concerned Nokia kicks ASS.
    Besides, we have no direct way of buying apps down here from Apple store or Android marketplace, so we don't care about an App ecosystem.
    Beatnyama