Nokia Partners with MicrososftA couple of days ago, an unusually honest internal memo from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop revealed that the company is at a crossroads, and that a new smartphone strategy is necessary.

Today, Nokia and Microsoft have officially entered a strategic alliance that makes Windows Phone 7 Nokia’s primary smartphone platform, but also extends into many other Microsoft services such as Bing, Xbox Live and Office.

Furthermore, the two companies will combine many complementary services; for example, Nokia’s application and content store will be integrated into Microsoft Marketplace, while Nokia Maps will be – as Nokia’s press release puts it – at the heart of Bing and AdCenter.

Nokia will also undergo significant changes in operational structure and leadership. As of April 1, Nokia will have two main business units: Smart Devices, led by Jo Harlow, and Mobile Phones, led by Mary McDowell.

Of course, with such significant changes in Nokia’s strategy, one has to wonder what will happen to its other smartphone platforms. Symbian, says Nokia, will become a “franchise platform, leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value,” and MeeGo will be an “open-source, mobile operating system project.”

While Nokia claims it expects to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in the future, it’s obvious that from now on few people will buy Symbian devices because they run Symbian software. It will more likely power Nokia’s mid-range smartphones and feature phones with Nokia’s flagship phones running Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft and Nokia’s leaders are, of course, enthusiastic about the partnership. “We will create opportunities beyond anything that currently exists,” said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

What do you think? Was the partnership with Microsoft the right move for Nokia, and vice versa? Please, give us your opinions in the comments.

[Via Mashable]

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Nokia Ovi Store - App Store LogoWhile Nokia is losing its market share in the smartphone market to the likes of iOS, Android and BlackBerry, it still is widely popular among people who like simplicity and ease of use. Though Nokia really increased the number of Nokia apps available on its Ovi store over the last year or so, the app store is still far behind the quality and quantity of the apps for Nokia in general while free apps in particular. Therefore, I decided to share my personal experience with some of the free Nokia apps I use every day and found pretty handy for my day to day tasks.

Here’s a list of top five free Nokia apps that I use every day myself. However, the order of appearance doesn’t represent the preference.

1. Snaptu

Snaptu Free Nokia app

Snaptu is my most favourite app for all types of media consumption and keeps me updated all the time.

This fast, stylish all-in-one app includes all your mobile essentials in one place including, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, News, RSS Feeds, Weather, Sports (Cricket, Soccer, Tennis…) Movies, Sudoku and much more. Instead of cramming your phone with lots of individual apps that eat battery, waste space and slow things down, you can have Snaptu for free.

Snaptu Free Nokia app

Download link.

2. Opera Mobile

Opera Mobile Free Nokia appThough Nokia’s built in browser does a reasonable job when it comes to normal browsing, but Opera Mobile is the most popular mobile browser for its powerful features that are missing in most other mobile browsers.

This free Nokia app features the Speed Dial, tabbed browsing, geolocation, and a convenient password manager. Opera Mobile 10.1 is optimised for both touch-screen and keypad-style navigation. This latest version is twice as fast as the previous Opera Mobile released for Symbian/S60, and you will notice significant speed improvement when downloading pages, zooming and panning. Opera Turbo is also integrated, saving both time and money with its server-side compression technology.

Opera Mobile Free Nokia app

Download link.

3. Skype

Skype Free Nokia appSkype is undoubtedly the best app for communication between people having different devices with different platforms and operating systems.

With this free Nokia app, you can have all the benefits of Skype on your phone. You can save money and stay in touch when you’re on the move. Make free Skype-to-Skype calls and IM on WiFi. Save money on calls and texts (SMS) to phones abroad. Share pictures, videos and other files from your phone.

Skype Free Nokia app screenshot

Download link.

4. YouTube

YouTube Free Nokia app logoYouTube doesn’t need any introduction. If you’re not familiar with it, better first go and check out on Google. This free Nokia app is the official mobile app from YouTube. It’s very fast and brings all the video content on YouTube available on your fingertips.

YouTube Free Nokia app screenshot

Download link.

5. WhatsApp Messenger

WhatsApp Free Nokia app logoWhatsApp Messenger is a smartphone messenger available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Nokia phones. WhatsApp uses your 3G or WiFi (when available) to message with friends and family. This free Nokia app lets you switch from SMS to WhatsApp to send and receive messages for free.

WhatsApp Free Nokia app screenshot

Download link.

These are the free Nokia apps that I used myself and enjoy using them every day. I’m sure many of you believe that I have missed some more apps that should have been in this list. Please share with us in the comments below!

About the Author

Osama Hanif Bhatti is the co-founder and CEO of OH Media and Marketing Ltd. He is also serving as Manager Online Marketing & SEO at GreenTech UK. He’s the editor of Bits Station and also contributes regularly on technology, environment, design and leadership at various other blogs. Follow him at twitter.com/osamahanif.

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Nokia 1100

Meet the world's most popular phone

Nokia has problems. Smartphone problems. Software problems. American problems. But to fully understand what’s wrong, we’ve got to understand what’s been right, or to put in another way, what’s distracted Nokia. Meet the most popular phone in the world.

It has been said that more of the world’s population has access to a cellphone than to a sanitary toilet. But of the planet’s estimated 5 billion cellphone users, a privileged minority have smartphones; a paltry few, iPhones.

If you spend hours thumbing through pages of apps, scoffing at less-than-perfect software upgrades and grousing about screen resolution and pixel density, it’s easy to forget that the very concept of a mobile phone is a miracle. It’s a device that shrinks your day to day world into a single point, making you simultaneously accessible to and able to access nearly everyone you know, instantly and everywhere.

One summer in 2005, a man in Nigeria wanted in. He found a shop, put his money down on the counter, and left with a cellphone: a Nokia 1100, nearly identical to the model discontinued by AT&T that same year. Statistically, this was likely his first handset. He’d probably used a similar one through family or friends. Personal milestone or not, the tiny Clarkian miracle of that day represented a cold milestone for Nokia. It was their billionth phone sold.

In buying that phone, this man was joining a slightly smaller club. He became a Nokia 1100 user. Along with a staggering 250,000,000 others, he had traded up in the communications world, from little or no phone access at all to this little brick of a phone.

Nokia 1100

The 1100 is not pleasant to use. The keypad is too narrow for two-thumbed texting; it’s thin enough that curling a thumb for one-handed use is strenuous. Tiny pedestal buttons are concealed behind a squishy rubber shield, and configured in such a way that learning how to use the phone is a process of rote memorization and habit-building rather than intuition.

The phone wasn’t exactly a technological marvel, even by the standards of the time. (For perspective, in 2003 Gizmodo was writing breathlessly about the promise of the Palm Treo 600—a real smartphone.) The screen is small and the pixels large and monochrome. The ringer is both tinny and piercing. The whole assemblage feels suspiciously light.
The Most Popular Phone in the World
I say this all as someone coddled by smartphones, touchscreens, and the results of years upon years of careful and expensive interface research, but also as someone who has used a hell of a lot of phones. For a few years years I carried a Nokia 3595—a not-so-distant relative of the 1100—so the 1100 doesn’t feel exotic to me, nor should it to most anyone.

But I was never really meant to buy a Nokia 1100, and its designers never meant to impress me. The phone’s small size makes its extremely portable, and easy to carry or stow. That narrow, squishy keypad is dustproof and water resistant, so a splash of rain or a drop in the sand won’t ruin it. The phone’s plasticky shell and light weight make perfect sense the first time you see it bounce off your tile floor, skittering to a stop unscathed. The menu system and button configuration might clash with my design sensibilities, but I was raised on PCs and Nintendo. I have expectations of polish, and can mistake brutal simplicity for lack of design.

This phone was meant to survive and to do; its only jobs are to call and to text and to create convenience for as long as possible, as cheaply as possible. “The way we get to those features is by spending a lot of time with consumers, with teams in their homes, interviewing them, seeing how they live,” says Alex Lambeek, who, prior to becoming Nokia’s VP of Phone Marketing, worked extensively with hardware design for the developing world. “Take for example a feature like a torch (flashlight), and you might think: Who cares about a torch? Well, for a consumer who lives in an area, let’s say, of India or Indonesia or Africa, where there is either no power supply or power is intermittent, having a torch is pretty important.”

Likewise, accessories and services aren’t cast-offs from the Western world, but specifically adapted for their environments. Alongside new cellphones you’ll see chargers that draw power from bikes, and by sending an SMS to a specific, Nokia-operated number, you can get a listing of local crop prices, or a weather forecast.

A phone sold in an outdoor market can’t exactly be brought back for a warranty claim. Software updates are mostly out of the question, so the phone you buy is the phone you’ll be stuck with. Customer service is complicated by language differences, literacy issues and simple lack of awareness, so a short sort of troubleshooting guide has to be included in the phone’s software.

The lesson, basically, is that a company won’t do well in the developing world simply by hawking cheap, out-of-date hardware after it’s become obsolete in places like America. Companies like Nokia, LG and Samsung spend a lot of time and money developing new phones that you and I might consider old-fashioned or odd, and with good reason: Emerging markets are huge. The 8th, 9th and 10th largest phone seller in the world, by volume, are companies you’ve never heard of—ZTE, G-Five and Huawei—which have made heaps of money selling millions of customers their first phones. Nokia is actually losing share in India, largely due to a burgeoning domestic phone industry, led by companies whose spectacular sales volumes belie their newness. They’d be stupid to try to sell their cast-off dregs to hyper-competitive exploding markets like this.

Demands of the Developing World are Different

The hardware demands of the developing world are different. That much is obvious. Making things even more difficult is the way people sell phones outside of the US and Europe. Surprise! It’s also different. “In North America and many parts of Europe, operators typically subsidize handsets,” says Lambeek. It’s a familiar, unwieldy system of blood contracts and extravagant hardware. It’s why we tend to loathe our carriers, and also why you can get a Droid for $150. But it’s by no means universal. “That is quite rare in places like Africa, for the simple reason that the economics of subsidizing don’t make sense. Either the money doesn’t come, or it takes far too long.” This means that the price of the phone isn’t distorted by subsidies, and that the operators are barely involved in phone distribution at all.

This makes things less complicated in a lot of ways, and more complicated in others. Phones have to be cheap enough that people can buy them outright, which basically renders all high-end smartphones like BlackBerrys or iPhones, which can cost well over $500 unsubsidized, almost comically inaccessible. It also means that phones need to be standardized and network-neutral, or unlocked, and that they have to work with whatever services are popular or available, be they voice or text or internet.

Who Want Smartphones

The developing world has no interest in the iPhone. It’s impractically delicate and expensive, and its battery lasts a day, if you’re lucky. But the concept of a smartphone is in some ways as attractive in rural Nigeria as it is anywhere else.

Companies like Huwei are already refiguring the Android phone equation to suit second-time phone buyers, and bringing prices for unsubsidized touchscreen smartphones well under $200, edging ever closer to $100. Nokia’s C3 series has Wi-Fi, a 2.0MP camera, a full, metal-keyed QWERTY keyboard, microSD storage and an App Store. It comes with Facebook and Twitter access out of the box. Depending on tariffs, it sells for around $100 worldwide. It’s coming to America, soon making an appearance on Wal-Mart’s shelves. The price? $80. It’s the anti-N8: Fairly simple, very cheap, and so far, wildly popular.
The Most Popular Phone in the World
This is what the next generation of the mega-selling phone will look like. They’ll be rough facsimiles of the high-end smartphones forged for well-heeled buyers, stripped of fat and excess—an embodiment of compromise. They’ll be 90% of the phone for 20% of the price, with FM radios instead of digital music stores, and flashlights instead of LED flashes. This is how the other half will smartphone, if you want to be so generous as to call the developing world’s users a half. We’re not even close.

[Via Gizmodo]

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