Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 20th 2014 Contents A34
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday May 20, 2014
I m quite fond of that very old
Trini saying, "time is longer than
You ve got to be of a certain vin-
tage to have even heard it, but I ve
found it to be a deliciously succinct
way of measuring the relentless
march of days against the enthu-
siasms and vagaries of people s
efforts to bring order to their lives.
The aphorism resonated while I
looked through my notes from
Nokia s Open Studio, the company s
huge engagement with world media
in April 2006 in Berlin.
It was a remarkable time for the
company. The iPhone was a year
away, and no hint of it existed in
the technology landscape.
Nokia was up against Palm,
whose early smartphone hadn t kept
pace with consumer expectations
and the software platform was fal-
Nokia was confident they could
step into that space and conquer
it. The company boasted that of
the 50 million smartphones in use
globally by Q4, 2005, Nokia held
54 per cent of the market.
Between November 2005 and July
2007, Nokia would buy Intellisync
Corporation, Loudeye music dis-
tribution, Twango, a media sharing
solution and merge with Siemens
to create their famed NoHo facility
in Espoo, Finland.
The acquisitions would continue
until 2012, the company snapping
up Enpocket, Navteq, OZ Commu-
nications, Plum Ventures, Novarra,
MetaCarta, Smarterphone and Scal-
ada, spending billions on products
that disappeared into the company s
They didn t dump Symbian
quickly enough or successfully
develop a touch friendly operating
system for their hardware.
In 2006, Symbian was enjoying
its last hurrah as an OS for smart-
phones. The graphics were crisp
and the functionality useful, but
phone s interface with little buttons
was about to be nuked by Apple s
Nokia trotted out their best and
brightest for the media at Open
Studio in 2006. In one private ses-
sion after another brilliant designers
demonstrated the technology that
the company was working on.
Pekka Pohjakallio, the largely
unsung design genius of Nokia s
mobile group, talked about how
usability drove the look and feel of
the new N series phones.
So many clever minds with so
many bright ideas.
Ari Virtanen demonstrat-
ed the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet,
a handheld device running Debian
Linux so far ahead of its time that
nobody at Nokia seemed to know
what to do with it.
How did the company go from
there to the announcement in April
2014, almost exactly eight years
later, that it had been successfully
acquired by Microsoft?
There s no single answer to that,
though some of the clues were there
at the Open Studio event but are
only apparent with the clarity of
Ideas were buzzing around Nokia
like crazed sugar flies over molasses
but there seemed to be no guiding
authority defining the company s
The N series was gorgeous. I took
an N80 away from the event along
with everyone else from the Latin
and used it cheerfully
It was a solid
phone, with a
durable metal case
and a camera with
a Carl Zeiss lens,
but inside the OS
was clunky and
hard to navigate,
the iPhone hit the
impressive lens was
murky images even
in brilliant sunlight.
Despite those set-
backs, what killed the
series was that it was invisible out-
side of Europe. Nokia didn t sell it
in the US and that made it a poor
choice for Caribbean users.
No less a person than Stephen
Elop, incoming CEO of Nokia sum-
marised the situation in 2011 from
an insider s perspective with the
notorious "burning platform"
Two weeks ago, Nokia s mobile
business effectively came to an end.
It is now a division of Microsoft,
operating as Microsoft Mobile Oy
with a new mission as the provider
of a platform for Windows Phone
8. What that will mean is still to be
defined, but it s unlikely to bear any
likeness to the company that hosted
me in Berlin in 2006.
That s probably a good thing, but
it s ultimately a sad thing too.
Reporting from Nokia's Open
Studio in Berlin is archived here
(http://ow.ly/wYTFw) and here
The Finn's finale
In 2006, Nokia had a Web-ready tablet called the 770 Internet Tablet. Like so many of the
company's best ideas, almost nobody ever heard about it. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
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