The Ultimate Convergence Device – Nokia and the MeeGo tablet phone.

Convergence devices are forever promised, a device that fits comfortably in your pocket, can make phone-calls, plays all manner of media from books to music to video, will play games, handle basic office tasks such as documents, email and PIM tasks, as well as acting as a hub for your various groups of online friends via social networking and IM, with a vibrant development community and a non-restrictive platform, but has such a device ever arrived? Arguably not, most notably because of the conflicting challenges of making a device big enough to both display a lot of information information and house some serious power, and then small enough to remain pocket-able in a way that allows it to be always at hand. Will we ever reach this Nirvana?

Probably by the start of 2011 is this blogs best guess:

The Iphone 4 due to be announced any day now is going to pretty much nail the format, at the very least it will come a lot closer than any device has managed yet. With a 960×640 screen it will offer plenty of resolution, but at 3.5″ it simply won’t be big enough for productivity work. Likewise with the store and development community, its depth and breadth is unsurpassed, but it remains a fundamentally restricted platform that prevents this blogger treating it as a go-to device, for all its polish it is a console and not a computer to use a gaming metaphor.

The Dell Streak is an interesting device, a 5″ Android internet tablet with full phone capabilities. The platform is moderately open, and the app-store thriving, so we can hope that productivity applications and media portals will arrive to make use this ‘huge’ screen space. Is the device truly pocket-able however, and will the growing fragmentation of the android platform between vendors and versions prove to be a brake on the platforms success?

There is one more potential contender, a future Nokia smartphone using the MeeGo linux platform partnered with the Ovi Store. With the first release of MeeGo targeted at smartphones due for release in October 2010 we can predict a product announcement from Nokia shortly thereafter, and worldwide shipments of devices early in 2011. What does this blog consider to be essential specifications for Nokia’s first MeeGo smartphone to have a shot at the crown of convergence king, and thus compete with the like of IphoneOS and Android?

First it needs class leading performance, both to allow for serious productivity work from the CPU side, and to provide parity with Iphones on the GPU side given that they are the industry standard to which mobile games publishers strive. Given Nokia’s preference for Texas Instruments this would suggest an Omap4 SoC, as the dual-core Arm Cortex A9 CPU will provide serious grunt, and the PowerVR 540 GPU will provide the same 28 MPolys/s, 500Mpx/s that publishers expect when they target Iphones using the equivalent 535GPU. A Ti Omap4 would be a suitable base platform around which to build a standard for developers targeting MeeGo, and it would prove more capable than even the Apple A4 SoC and the Snapdragon SoC popular among android devices.

Second, Nokia need to reach back to their past internet tablets and revive the larger screen size that “N” devices used to boast. With the n900 Nokia decided that the market wasn’t ready for a 4.3″ smartphone from them, so they worked to the established perceptions of consumers grown used to android devices and iphones by providing a high-resolution 3.5″ screen, this needs to change. Soon both iphones and android devices will have stolen the n900’s high-resolution clothes, and Dell and HTC have already released products with 5″ and 4.1″ screens respectively. The first MeeGo smartphone should have at least a 4″ OLED screen with a QHD resolution as this will make it far more useful and usable for creating and consuming tasks and media.

Third, Nokia should ditch the hardware keyboard and rely on capacitive multi-touch to make-good the user input deficit. Consumers expect to be able to do everything with the screen, and a larger and higher resolution screen will enable productivity applications previously deemed inoperable without a hardware keyboard. Further, ditching the hardware keyboard will allow Nokia engineers to keep the device slim, an absolute requirement if a 4″ plus device is not to be considered too bulky to be comfortably pocket-able. This blogger is a very happy owner of the n900, but it is not the future.

Fourth, MeeGo and Symbian are open platforms, and Nokia should open the Ovi-Store to third party device manufacturers who meet its platform standards with regards to application compatibility. If a device manufacturer meets the required hardware and software specifications Nokia should encourage them to adopt Ovi as their app-store, and do so by revenue sharing appropriately, because the Ovi-Store has a long way to go to achieve the critical-mass enjoyed by Apple’s app store and the android market place. Not all device manufacturers will be interested in this, fine let them go their own way, but Nokia should see their future as a platform vendor like Intel, who are providing their own open app-store for x86 MeeGo devices, rather than the closed shop they might secretly like to remain.

Nokia’s strength is the openness of its platforms, it should capitalise upon that factor rather than ape the business models of its competitors whose dominance relies on the polish that a closed platform can bring. It goes without saying that Nokia should actively adopt emerging technologies such as digital compasses and the like, and continue to provide class-leading camera functionality (both front and rear), in addition to pushing QT as hard as possible as the future of mobile app development.

Oh, and if this blog could offer one more bit of advice; buy kobobooks and compete right now in the fast growing market for ebooks, before it comes to be dominated by services that run that run on your competitors platforms rather than your own…………

Update 08/06/10

Perhaps the idea of opening up Ovi Store is not so crazy after all as some Samsung and Sony Ericsson Symbian phones are now officially able to install QT, and presumably run QT applications. If that is already happening, why would third parties not do the same  with MeeGo models, and why would Nokia not reciprocate by selling QT signed applications on the Ovi Store for those models?

26 responses to “The Ultimate Convergence Device – Nokia and the MeeGo tablet phone.

  1. I just dont believe the concept is possible, without some sort of fold out screen.

    A screen thats only 2 inches tall is too small to do any work on, and a screen thats 3 inches tall is testing pockets, and even then, its not great for any sustained work.

  2. A four inch screen with a WVGA resolution or better (960×640) would be enough for basic document editing (e.g. koffice on the n900), and HTC have created a quite pocketable phone that has a 4.3″ screen.

  3. These are my wishes: 4.2 inch WVGA AMOLED Touchscreen, 512Mb of Ram, 64 GB internal memory(expandable with at least 16 GB), 1GHZ CPU, or 1.2 GHZ, 8MP camera with HD video recording.

  4. that would certainly be a useful device.

    i would also like to see Nokia jump on the gyroscope bandwagon now, gaming could really take off with a combination of a commercial Ovi, gyroscope and a comparable GPU to recent iphones.

    most publishers won’t target a MeeGo phone as a first port of call, because the userbase is so small competitively, but if it’s an easy port then that would be an easy choice for the developer.

    • I know Nokia well, I am not a Nokia fan, but I like the N97 smart phone a LOT! 🙂 That phone was announced in December 2008, and has a 32Gb of internal storage. Last year they announced other 2 32 GB phones. This year, Nokia will announce 4 sure a 64GB internal memory phone. I hope that those specs I mentioned, they will make phones with those.

  5. I think 4″ is just fine, especially when considering how appealing a screen that size would be, but I also feel that it is a very pocketable size.

    Now I’d really like to see a physical QWERTY, though.

  6. I really like that design on the top. Where is it from?

    4inch screen and Nokia’s 8mpx or 12mpx module. I think the 32GB is given as Nokia has been talking for some time already about need of big memory in phones and it being one part of brining phones closer to real mobile computers. MeeGo/Maemo is the ultimate example of it from Nokia so it will be no doubt 32GB-64GB + memory card slot.

    • are the optics on the new N8 good enough that an eight or twelve mpx sensor really makes a difference?

      it would be great if they were, but more mpx usually just means less light collected for the same unit of sensor area…..

      • You are absolutely right there, but example N8 got largest sensor of any other mainstream phone camera and seem to be taking very good pictures.
        That’s why i was talking about the N86 and N8 camera modules. 🙂
        Not really about wanting 12mpx or 8mpx camera.

  7. I know its ans old post, but really, Nokia should keep the keyboard, and probably will. Not only does the keyboard give the screen a good angle when on a table, it also frees up space on the screen when you need to input text. and its more comfotable for text input. and its much prefered for those unlocking the full potential of the device, thru linux commandos, and such, and this later can be used by others..

    • Hi Jon, Oddly enough i think i am agreed, i do love the keyboard on my n900 and I have been impressed with how much keyboard they have been able to provide in such a slim package as the new E7.

  8. Nice device! N1000 from my wet dreams 🙂 But still – hw keyboard and resistive touchscreen is the must for such kind of device.

    • well, it would appear that nokia are still committed to h/w keyboards, and provided they keep the device slim, and still fully functional from the touchscreen, i have no objection.

      resistive touch screen however is a technological dead-end for anything other than edge-cases, such as for those who live in cold-climes and wish to wear gloves while they use their phones.

  9. A bigger screen would be a plus, but Nokia must keep the hardware keyboard. It makes typing that much quicker. Having recently experienced a software keyboard there is nothing that comes close to a physical keyboard.

    Another plus would be a good camera (12MP) with Carl Zeiss lens and a Xenon flash.

    I think the Nokia N9 will surprise a lot of people when it comes out, because to date there is no device on the market that offers the specifications it is boasting or rumoured to have!

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    • i’m not against a keyboard, it just seemed to me at the time they would have an easier job marketing a lead Meego device to joe-public, and thus kick-start a mission to be a big-three ecosystem, if they had svelte no-keyboard handset.

      no that it has become a ‘project’ again, i’m happy to see the keyboard return. tho what i would really like is a 5″ qHD screen to return it to its NIT roots.

      cheers. 🙂

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  12. Pingback: The Ultimate Convergance Device – Nokia and the MeeGo tablet phone. (via Jedibeeftrix’s Blog) | – Stuff worth knowing about

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