Nokia unveiled its latest flagship phone at its annual Nokia World event in Barcelona. Ladies and gentleman, say hello to the N97! A major update to the N95 (as well as the incrementally upgraded N96), the N97 is a multimedia device with a ton of features. According to Engadget Mobile:
"The N97 packs a 3.5-inch, 640 x 360 pixel (that's a 16:9 aspect ratio) resistive touchscreen display with tactile feedback and QWERTY keyboard into this sliding communicator with an 'always open' window to favorite internet or social networking sites. Nokia calls it the 'world's most advanced mobile computer.' To back up the claim they've dropped in HSDPA, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios, A-GPS, a 3.5-mm headjack, 32GB of onboard memory with microSD expansion (for up to 48GB total capacity), and a battery capable of up to 1.5 days of continuous audio playback or 4.5-hours video. 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss glass and 'DVD quality' video capture at 30fps, too."
The phone is gorgeous and its capabilities are extensive. However, going up against Steve Jobs wizardry (nobody gets people to care about plastic and silicon more than Jobs), RIM's dominance in the business world (BlackBerry), and Google's nerd love is no easy task. That said, Nokia is the dominant name in mobile phones (in every country that's not America) and the Symbian S60 platform is much more mature than the Android and iPhone operating systems.
While I have no doubt that this will be an outstanding phone, Nokia has a few challenges on its hands with the N97. It's an expensive device; with current economic conditions, it needs to find partners that will subsidize the cost of the phone, which has been a problem for the company's high-end products in America. The iPhone offers a simple way to purchase additional software through the iPhone App Store; Google is working on a similar solution with Android. Nokia needs to offer an elegant, easy, and (most importantly) centralized solution for acquiring Symbian S60 applications. While that might irritate S60 fans that appreciate the openness of the platform, a streamlined solution makes the N97 more accessible to a broader audience. Nokia is also positioning the N97 as a social device thanks to its A-GPS capabilities, but is that enough of a hook to compete with the rich entertainment options of the iPhone (through the easy-to-use iTunes) and the tight Google integration of Android? I don't know how successful the N97 will be, but it definitely makes the market more interesting.
The Nokia N97 will be released in the first half of 2009 for 550 Euros (currently a shade under 700 USD). What do you guys think? Does Nokia have another winner on its hands? Or is this too little too late from Finland's finest?