Planet maemo: category "feed:68a214557791eb7b58e154b2ee45d63e"

Daniel Gentleman

Is this the N900?

2009-05-25 22:56 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman

People are already talking at length about the supposed N900/Rover tablet of which MobileCrunch claims to have "exclusive knowledge." The mock-up above was included in their post over it.

The specs they report are no surprise: They're a combination of the existing N810, some features of the N97, and all the information we heard back in September of last year. What really throws me for a loop: TMO? Really? T-Mobile? One of the blessings of the Internet Tablets before were that they were carrier-agnostic and can be used with a tethered phone on any carrier supporting the service. This meant that the same tablet can be used globally. Adding a carrier means adding carrier restrictions and bending to the will of those carriers. There would be an advantage, though: It could be offered at a lower subsidized price. Still - I'm not sure about the placement of this one.

Categories: speculation
Daniel Gentleman
From FastCompany:

In an effort to boost the local Finnish economy, they're throwing open their thousands of unused patents so that any company in Finland can pursue ideas that Nokia has abandoned.
This article (link for more) really raised my eyebrows. I don't know of any consumer electronics company who'd be willing to make such a move. In these troubled economic times (drink!) it would behoove more companies to foster way for others to make money too. More money = more customers with money = more sales. It's never that simple.

I raise my mug to you, Nokia. Hope all that works out.
Categories: Nokia
Daniel Gentleman

New poll - ad supported Internet Tablets

2009-05-19 16:51 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
Wow - it's been a long time since I posted a poll. The voting is on the right side of (if you catch me through an RSS reader) and asks:

Would you use an ad-supported Internet Tablet?
  • No - it's far too annoying
  • Yes - it doesn't bother me
  • Yes - but only if the internet service was free
  • Yes - but only if the service and device were free
I go back and forth on ad-supported devices. Advertising dollars on blogs have gone to nearly nothing - but that's because my target audience is too tech-savvy to view the ads and far less likely to click. I wonder what kind of market an ad supported Maemo tablet will have and what the click-through ratio would be?
Categories: ad-supported device
Daniel Gentleman

Looks like MobileCrunch has an inside source with two new articles: One showing the screenshot above with some commentary and one speculating that the OS shown will be on ad-supported phones. I don't have time to do my own analysis right now (day job) but will post my impressions later. Looks interesting.
Categories: speculation
Daniel Gentleman

2009 Maemo Summit location announced!

2009-05-13 22:30 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
Ladies and gentleman - if you needed an excuse to take a vacation to Amsterdam, now is a good time. Quim Gil just posted that this year's Maemo Summit will be there on October 9, 10, and 11.

Last year's Summit brought some good ideas, good direction, and great enthusiasm for platform development. We also found out what the next tablet will contain. Seven months later, we still do not see a new tablet but the Maemo 5 SDK is solid and I am sure Nokia is allowing the developers to lead with applications that will be ready when the device is launched.

Personally, I hope to see a new tablet by August at the latest. I don't know if it will be released before the end of June as that is too close to the Nokia N97 launch date and there will be very few people who would buy both but likely a lot of overlap in those who would buy one OR the other.

For myself, I want both for different reasons. The N97 will be the most advanced phone available and the Maemo 5 tablet will be the most portable full-featured Internet/Social Networking device combined with the most advanced Linux handheld ever.

That's what I believe so far. Let's see what arrives!
Categories: maemo 5
Daniel Gentleman

N97 available for pre-order

2009-05-04 17:55 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
... and it's cheaper than I thought. US $699. I was tempted to put down the credit card now, but other major expenses snuck up and bit me. I hope to buy it for myself for my birthday in June.

We'll see.

Still no news on the Maemo 5 tablet, but Ars Technica has a good article on the SDK status.
Categories: N97
Daniel Gentleman


2009-04-06 17:42 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
I'm a very poor Nokia Internet Tablet blogger.

In the last months, some great software has been released and updated. Maemo 5 development is well underway. Things are, in general, moving right along. I've been silent through it.

I could pitch excuses about how I've been busy with the new job and such, but I'll get right to the core: I am not using my Internet Tablet nearly as much as I used to. I started using the iPhone 3G when I arrived in California just for the convenience alone. Now I find myself accidentally sucked into the Apple ecosystem - and I'm tired of it. I want out.

Here's a promise: I'm going to write a series of articles all about the extraction from Apple to other devices. It will cover Email, messaging, microblogging, music, video, podcasts, and apps. I'm going to wait for a maemo 5 tablet or an N97 first, though. Both promise far more than my current N95-3 (with the neglected NAM firmware) and the Nokia N810 can offer. Budget permitting, I'll get ahold of each (or both?) and get the articles cranked out. In the meantime, make sure to watch the maemo news page for all the latest on Internet Tablets.
Categories: maemo 5
Daniel Gentleman

What is the Nokia Sparrow?

2009-02-25 19:20 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
If is to be believed, Nokia is already showing a Linux based mobile internet device:

The design of Nokia Sparrow device does not follow the current netbook trend, going more the MID way, with some passing resemblance to Nokia N800 internet tablet.

It will have multi-slide keyboard, with different layouts/keys revealed as you slide it in different directions. The display also slides in several directions for different functions – think Nokia N97 tilting display.

The new Nokia computer has a very interesting keyboard with diamond shaped, elevated keys inverted to each other. At first glance it seems very uncomfortable – the keys are pretty small (about half the size of normal key), actually the device itself is rather small. But when you start typing on it, it works very well. It is very difficult to hit multiple keys with a finger, even on purpose.
Hit the link above for more and their own mock-up drawing.

Is this real? Why haven't we heard or seen more? Why do the only Google results for "Nokia Sparrow" go to that page or links to that page?
Categories: speculation
Daniel Gentleman
The last few posts and comments have sparked a good level of discussion on both sides of the Internet Tablets' future. I'd like to highlight some very good points made to contradict my first critical post and follow-up. Some of these are responses to the comments and some are from direct conversation with other Tablet users.

In the first post, I mentioned the importance of Hulu, NetFlix, and the BBC iPlayer. While these are fantastic developments in new media, very few users would actually require what is essentially a "mobile internet TV" in the purchase decision. Netflix in particular requires a DRM-heavy platform that is contrary to the ideals of the tablets. While it would be "cool" to have those features, they're not as important as I initially painted them.

In the second post, I mentioned that the hardware requirements are out of line with "reality" but are required. That may not be entirely true either as evidenced by the next realization:

Recently, Nokia's growing relationship with Facebook has been discussed (link to - subscription required) especially in relation to Nokia's Ovi. This helped me to realize that the marketing of the N97 put the purpose (specifically - a social networking optimized mobile device) ahead of the features. What does that mean to consumers?

I've recently seen ads for the Apple iPhone, the Blackberry Storm, Samsung Omnia. They all have something in common: They claim to be the best choice for music, communication, mobile internet, and more. This is all too confusing for the consumer. If the Nokia N97 is marketed as "the perfect phone for social media" and then they tack on stuff like "Multimedia player, camera, keyboard, and a ton of other features" it will be far easier for consumers to picture themselves using it.

Why limit that approach to just the N97? Maemo tablets have a higher resolution display, better keyboard, and (currently) work independently of phones. With a software layer optimized for social networking, the Maemo tablet can potentially be the single greatest non-phone social networking device. Here are some features that could do it:
  • Good camera (already promised at OSiM) for photo-video sharing.
  • Lightweight photo editing for cropping and posting photos (software only)
  • Improved GPS for geotagging and location-aware applications.
  • Better CPU (already promised at OSiM) for a faster overall experience
  • Social network applications or application layer to speed up status upates, location sharing, and photo/video sharing (software only)
Look at that. It's a device that people can actually see themselves using for a very popular task and it's no further from reality than what has already been promised.

Could the next Maemo tablet be "The Facebook Tablet?" Maybe.
Categories: speculation
Daniel Gentleman

In defense of the tablets...

2009-02-18 19:49 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
There was a lot of fallout in the comments to my last post.

The first thing I want to clarify is that Ryan Abel is absolutely correct on his summation of capacitive touch displays. Having a high-precision resistive touch display gives Maemo tablets a wider degree of functionality than a capacitive display could. These are little computers, after all. Capacitive touch is for low-precision operations like phones, media players, and kiosk displays.

Second: I know damn well that my aspirations for a Maemo 5 tablet are far out of line with reality. The features I described at the price I mentioned are simply not possible with today's technology. There's simply no way to stuff all those features into such a small device without killing battery life and skyrocketing the price. I know it was a pipe dream. The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet was years ahead of its time. Years have passed, however, and the next Maemo tablet needs to be far ahead of existing technology to stand out as a device consumers actually want to buy.

Finally: I haven't lost my lust for internet tablets. While technology is catching up with Nokia's innovation, I still believe that Maemo developers can pull something out of their hats that will make jaws drop worldwide. I believe this because I've had the pleasure of meeting a good number of them. They're really THAT brilliant. If they pooled their minds and decided they wanted to build a Mars rover of their own, I am sure they could do it.
Categories: maemo 5
Daniel Gentleman

All worked up for nothing!

2009-02-17 23:39 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
Nokia's MWC event has come and gone, with no mention of Maemo much less a 4th generation Maemo tablet. I was just plain wrong.

It's a crucial time for the Internet Tablet product line. Something special needs to appear to set the device apart from tiny computers (like the VIAO P) and superpowered phones (like the Nokia N97.) Something must burst forth to convince consumers to adopt the Maemo platform instead of buying into other established Linux, Windows, or Symbian platforms.

After thousands of blog comments and hundreds of conversations with mobile device enthusiasts, I have come up with the following: Purchase decisions are made on several common factors:
  • Function: Does it do everything I want it to? Does it do it well? The features in Maemo 5 are built for social networking with a rich web browser, content creation, and content consumption. With that, it needs to grow to include the latest in new media like Netflix On Demand, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. This will give it an extra leg up over Apple's lame duck version of Safari on the iPhone.
  • Form: Is it comfortable, usable, intuitive, and small? The Nokia N810 did a lot "right" but could do better. I remember (and agree with) a comment suggesting a capacitive touch screen and total removal of the stylus.
  • Price: Am I getting what I am paying for? Will I wish I had spent less money on another device or more money on a different device?
  • Trust: Does the company behind this device have the experience and follow-through to justify the money I am going to spend? Nokia is by far the dominant mobile handset maker in the world, but their high-end Nseries seems to be only a small part of that. North American consumers are especially wary since our carriers use several different frequency bands for calls and data. NAM versions of Nseries phones (like the Nokia N95-3) only get 3G from AT&T Wireless. Even so - some of us swich to AT&T to get the sweet N95 action only to later be left out to dry when the NAM firmware stagnates while the European firmware gets new updates and features.
In the best of times, Internet Tablets were a hard sell. With US $299 "netbook" class machines flooding the market, Maemo tablets need to break away and pull out ahead. Let's hope for an 800x480 capacitive touchscreen, integrated/searchable application catalog, comfortable keyboard wth a D-pad that allows for light gaming, good cameras with video capture, and a fast enough CPU to handle the latest in new media. Let's also hope that it doesn't come out too far past US $299.

Yes - it is unrealistic to expect all of the above to fit into one product. Sacrifices will be made in design. The price will have to match the components and development costs. It's nice to hope, though, isn't it?
Categories: speculation
Daniel Gentleman

Consumed by mobile needs

2009-02-04 18:58 UTC  by  Daniel Gentleman
Recently, I almost cried in my desire for an HSPA Internet Tablet or Nokia N97. Here's the story:

First, a confession: Since I moved to Silicon Valley, I've been carrying an iPhone 3G. In an unfamiliar neighborhood, the Google Maps application and ability to easily check mutliple Email accounts have been very handy. I constantly use Twitterific, Devicescape Easy Connect, the Bank of America app, and Crayon Physics. My podcasts sync up easily and all my music/media is managed by iTunes.

I also now own an MSI Wind U100. Having to take frequent trips to the Data Center, I find the weight, resolution, keyboard, and Windows XP OS perfect for the task. A USB to Serial adapter perfect for the task. Some router, switch, and blade server web interfaces still only work in IE with ActiveX.

Enough confession. Now it's time to get to the desire.

I was in a situation where a server needed attention and I was not at my computer. There was no wifi nearby. The MSI Wind does not have 3G and it's not possible to tether my iPhone without playing with experiemental, warranty-voiding cracks. I needed to use a web browser for testing, SSH for server connection, and Yahoo to communicate with my co-workers on status. The iPhone can do all of these, right? Sure... if you don't mind disconnecting both SSH and Yahoo to go to the web browser.

So here I am: Unable to run background tasks and unable to tether to a 3G connection. I need to be rid of these limitations. I can go back to the Nokia N95-3 with the Nokia N810, but the North American firmware seems to have been abandoned by Nokia developers. My N82 was my favorite phone ever except for the lack of 3G.

Please - dear developers at Nokia - put the N97 or the HSPA equipped N8x0 soon so that I may buy them. I wonder if my company would allow me to expense them out....
Categories: N95