Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The new Nokia 5800 XpressMusic handset certainly looks like an iPhone. Same rounded corners, similar screen, and of course software operated with the touch of a finger. But don't—repeat, don't—call it an iPhone killer. With 40% of the global handset market, Nokia (NOK) is not in the business of copying puny rivals such as Apple (AAPL). Rather, Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's executive vice-president for markets, calls the 5800 a "youth-oriented multimedia product made very affordable to the target audience of heavy music consumers."
Maybe a better description of the 5800 would be iPhone triangulator. No, the handset launched on Oct. 2 in London is not aimed directly at the hard-core iPhone crowd. But the 5800 does indicate how Nokia hopes to ensure that Apple remains a niche player in the global handset market. Nokia will try to smother Apple and other rivals with a range of touch products, aiming to peel away different target groups.
And Nokia will launch the products simultaneously around the world, exploiting a distribution system that neither Apple nor any other competitor can match. The 5800 can handle 60 different languages covering 90% of humanity and will be in shops all over the globe, including the U.S., before the end of the year, Nokia says.
As Vanjoki points out, the 5800 is designed for young folks whose lives revolve around music. The $407 price tag, before taxes and subsidies, is more than a third below that of an unsubsidized iPhone. And the 5800 will be available from a range of telcos, in contrast to the iPhone, which is officially available only from select providers such as O2 (TEF) in Britain or T-Mobile (DT) in Germany.
Perhaps the most important feature of the 5800, though, isn't hardware but the built-in music collection. Beginning next year, the phone will feature Nokia's Comes With Music service—a year's worth of downloads from a catalog that includes all four major labels and 4 million songs (BusinessWeek.com, 9/2/08). It may be the music, more than the device, that's really aimed at Apple. Anyone who buys a 5800, with a massive selection of music embedded in the price, is unlikely to pay for the same music on iTunes.
So how does the 5800 compare with the iPhone? It's more sophisticated in some ways, less so in others. The more compact 5800 has a one-finger touch screen, in contrast to the iPhone, whose surface can handle input from two fingers simultaneously. The iPhone's two-finger interface lets users do cool things, such as easily shrink or expand images on the screen. On the other hand, the 5800, unlike the iPhone, has a screen that vibrates ever so gently when you touch it, providing subtle confirmation that the device is responding to your command.
The 5800's inner workings also are more advanced. (Saying such things always generates hate mail from iPhone fans.) It's a fact that Nokia has much more experience than Apple—or anybody else, for that matter—in packing an astonishing number of radios and other electronics into a small package and making everything work reliably.
The 5800 has a better camera, including a Carl Zeiss lens. Its Internet browser can handle Flash files, which the iPhone can't. And it has built-in GPS navigation (as do the newest iPhones). Since Nokia hasn't yet released test versions of the 5800, it's impossible to say which is better. But given how much effort Nokia has put into navigation (it's already the world's largest maker of GPS devices), it will be a surprise if the new phone doesn't turn out to be more precise and better at snagging a satellite signal than the iPhone. Nokia will include an introductory subscription to voice navigation in the price. "It's increasingly about the combination of services that come with the product," Vanjoki says.
The 5800 should be seen as Nokia's first attack on the touch screen phone market. A real challenger to iPhone will come some time in the next few months, when the Finns unveil an Nseries device with a touch screen. The top-of-the-line Nseries handsets are the ones that most appeal to the same tech connoisseurs who have made the iPhone such a phenomenon. Vanjoki might let you get away with calling that product an iPhone killer.
CROSS OVER TO THE VIRTUAL WORLD...
With GTbyCITROËN, a show-car presented at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, Citroën becomes the first vehicle manufacturer to cross over to the virtual worlds: An original take on a road car, GTbyCITROËN is a style replica of a vehicle from the digital world. The car is the result of a partnership between Citroën and Polyphony, designer of the driving simulation game Gran Turismo 5 on Playstation 3. Already shipped in more than 50 million units worldwide, Gran Turismo is renowned for its quality, design and realism.
In the game, GTbyCITROËN features an electric drive train powered by a fuel cell with no pollutant emissions. It is a car designed to square up to the strongest competition.
"GTbyCITROËN shows how the worlds of virtual and real-life motoring can join together to create a truly innovative partnership. We were delighted that Citroen approached us and gave us the opportunity to combine our creative strengths to build this very special concept car. To see the car take shape in game and then for real has been a truly unique experience as our work normally stays in the digital world. I just hope I can get behind the wheel of GTbyCITROËN and drive it on a real race track!" - Kazanori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital Inc and creator of Gran Turismo
Performance first and foremost
GTbyCITROËN is geared to the world of motor racing, with its dynamic styling, sculpted lines and sharp graphics. The rear end is oversized, made exaggeratedly long in order to create an effect of retinal persistence. The idea is to make the concept car even faster visually. The white-to-grey gradation on the body side further underlines this impression of continuous movement.
The cabin of GTbyCITROËN, designed to seat two adults, expresses the grand touring vision behind this show-car. The on-board ambience allies premium, extensively worked materials with a more high-tech effect for the driving position.
The layout of the low driving position was dictated by driving pleasure. The aim is for the driver to be able to concentrate on the road, assisted by a head-up display clearly displaying driving information.
RACING SPIRIT BY CITROËN
Power and flowing lines
The design of GTbyCITROËN reflects a quest for optimal aerodynamic design. The show-car is a vehicle of flowing, taut lines, stretched to the extreme. The cleanly drawn sides, ribbed at the top, and the pearlescent shade of the bodywork enhance the vehicle's sleekly muscled looks.
The determined look of the front end is enhanced by wide air intakes and clear-cut horizontal headlamps. The headlamps feature penetrating blue LEDs in order to light the road effectively and keep rivals at a respectful distance! The chrome chevrons on the smooth bonnet express the Marque's identity.
The carbon rearview mirrors on their finely profiled supports appear to be suspended as if to cleave the air, giving GTbyCITROËN an excellent on-road stance.
The large wraparound windscreen flows seamlessly into the roof and on into the rear mobile airfoil with its exaggeratedly long shape. The fast-flowing lines create the impression of a car in perpetual movement. The whole body expresses performance and continuous movement.
GTbyCITROËN also expresses strength and power through generous volumes, (length: 4.960m, 2.080m and height: 1.090m) underlined by strongly marked wheel arches. The diamond-effect 21-inch aluminium wheels enhance the car's sporty personality.
The interior design confirms the vehicle's dynamic and powerful style. The interior of GTbyCITROËN, designed to seat a driver and co-driver, expresses the racing spirit of this concept. The on-board ambience allies rich, premium, extensively worked materials with a more high-tech effect for the driving position, inspired by the world of motorsports.
Looking beyond the spectacular visual effect, the gullwing opening of the two doors gives GTbyCITROËN a level of accessibility rarely seen on this type of vehicle. The driver and co-driver can therefore slip into their seats and get out on the track as quickly as possible.
The dark interior of this show-car is a surprise, compared with the light bodywork. Upholstered in black leather with subtle touches of rare materials such as copper and steel, the cabin of GTbyCITROËN is distinctly sporty.
Two padded racing seats upholstered in dark leather, each fitted with a four-point harness, enfold the driver and passenger for exceptional driving sensations. Placed low down to highlight the impression of speed, the elegant seats are a perfect fit with the rest of the interior.
The top-stitched leather of the door panels and floor adds to the opulence of the interior.
The driving position expresses the spirit of competition. The design was objectively guided by the motivation to win.
The dashboard, with its clean uncluttered design, flows into the receding lines of an imposing copper sculpture. The thrusting modern lines of the sculpture become the central tunnel of the vehicle, illustrating the power of GTbyCITROËN and appearing to catalyse its strength.
Created in a twist of this same copper sculpture, the leather-and-steel steering wheel also reflects the sporting spirit of the cabin.
To promote maximum concentration, the driver of GTbyCITROËN has a head-up display for driving information. Using red LEDs, this system projects key driving information – such as speed and navigation data – onto the windscreen in the driver's direct line of vision.
The head-up display makes a significant contribution to safety with its direct read-out. Drivers assimilate data more quickly and do not have to look away from the road.
Aerodynamics optimised to combine performance and driving sensations
Special emphasis was placed on the aerodynamics and flowing design of GTbyCITROËN, these being key Citroën values. The objective was to enhance the vehicle's dynamics and to create exceptional driving sensations.
Looking beyond its taut, dynamic lines, this racing car features innovative equipment such as enlarged air intakes at the front, a flat underside, and a mobile spoiler and air diffuser at the rear. All these features play an active role in reducing lift and – above all – drag, to pin the car to the ground.
With its flowing lines, original architecture and its use – in the game – of what is potentially the best environmental technology, GTbyCITROËN embodies the sporting spirit as seen by Citroën and underlines the Marque's ambitions to meet new challenges.
The G1 phone runs Android, an operating system that is designed to bring the desktop computing experience to mobile devices, by allowing people to surf the internet and carry out everyday tasks on the move.
The G1 gives one-touch access to popular Google online services, such as its email service, Gmail, the video-sharing website YouTube, instant-messaging via Google Talk, and its maps service, Google Maps.
Users can instantly share photos taken on the three megapixel camera, and post them to the web. Google Maps includes Street View, which overlays roads with real-world street-level photographs.
The G1 is the first phone to have a compass built into it in addition to motion-sensing technology, meaning users can navigate using Google Maps just by rotating the phone in their hand.
The phone has a 3.2in touchscreen, like Apple’s hugely popular iPhone, as well as a slide-out Qwerty keyboard. It offers high-speed internet access via the 3G phone network, as well as via Wi-Fi.
US users of the G1 will have one-click access to Amazon MP3, a music download service, expected to be launched in the UK later this year. The G1 comes with 2GB of memory built into the device, which is enough to store up to 500 songs, but this can be expanded to 8GB using an additional memory card.
The launch of the "Google phone", which is made by the Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, will pit Google in direct competition with the likes of Apple, makers of the iPhone, as well as RIM, who produce the popular BlackBerry mobile email device.
The G1 will also compete with other existing mobile phone operating systems, such as Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, and Symbian, which is widely used by Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile phone maker.
Owners of the G1 will be able to download additional software and programs onto their device. The Android Market will be similar to Apple’s Application Store for iPhone owners, which allows them to add extra software to their iPhones.
"Because the Android platform is open, we think Android is future-proof," said Andy Rubin, Google’s senior director of mobile platforms.
Google, which already dominates the online advertising and search industries, is looking for ways to replicate its success on mobile devices. By putting its own web browser at the heart of the Android operating system, it has the potential to deliver its content and applications to a ready-made target audience.
Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, hailed the power and potential of the G1, and said it was as powerful as some of the desktop computers in use until just a few years ago.
Analysts are sceptical whether the G1 can make an instant dent in the iPhone’s market dominance, but predict that the platform has plenty of future potential.
"Google is playing the long game with Android," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst with CCS Insight. "The G1 represents a promising start and Google has pockets deep enough to outspend and compete with its competitors."