When Nokia announced its N9/Lumia 800, I was among many delighted by the attractive hardware. With Microsoft's new Windows Phone OS—itself getting surprise raves for its minimalism and focus—it struck me that here was a vision in the sense that technologists and marketers mean it: a contemporary ideal of quality and forward-thinkingness that could translate into a serious commercial advantage. Competitors had already made their plays, after all, and even great success can lock a company in place. Perhaps the next decade in gadgets wasn't going to be divvied up by Apple and Google, after all.
So, when it finally came out in the U.S., I walked into an AT&T store to upgrade to it.
What they had on the shelf, however, was something slightly different. The Nokia 900 was significantly larger, for starters, with that exquisite design morphed around a fatter, heavier chassis. Worse, the new display offered the same relatively low resolution as the smaller model, but stretched over larger screen—heading in the opposite direction to the "retina" displays found on newer iPhones and Androids. I felt disappointed in it: something indefinite and strange had gone wrong with a good idea. Someone had Homered it.
The salesman suggested that the changes allowed them to include a powerful "4G" radio, which promised faster speeds but required more juice, and therefore a larger chassis to contain a larger battery. If I wanted the more compact 800 model, he said, I'd have to order it off-contract. Turns out that it's $750 at Amazon.
I walked out with a new iPhone, and the impression that Nokia was kinda doomed on grounds of carrier and OS licensor market power, etc.
However, they've now announced matching nail polish to go with a new pink model, so I've changed my mind and will be hurrying over to the AT&T store this lunchtime.Next post