Nokia's big. I mean really big—the world's largest manufacturer of cellphones. But being huge and successful doesn't always mean you're fast, and a bunch of leaks pointing to upcoming touchscreen phones have just illustrated how far behind the game Nokia is.
TheStreet.com has a juicy, if anonymously "industry sourced" rumor that suggests Nokia is planning on releasing "three devices that feature big touchscreens and so-called Qwerty keypads" starting later this year. One device is a 4.2-inch mobile internet device with a "hidden" slider keyboard. In around a year, the "Nautilus" is due, and is reported to be a very slim touchscreen device with some advanced sensors to detect gestures, which may cause the in-built keyboard to slide in or out of the device—possibly with keys that rise out of the pad at that point.
The third device is apparently due in the next quarter, and will utilize VibeTonz haptic vibration feedback technology licensed from Immersion. The intention is to improve on the user experience associated with touchscreen-only keyboards by adding some physical feedback that a key is successfully pressed.
All three phones sound okay. But Nokia is so very late to the touchscreen party, dramatically led by the iPhone's success, that if you think about it these phones are not going to be all that amazing compared to their peers. Here's why:
- The iPhone version 3 is due this summer, and as a natural progression on the tech from the earlier devices, it promises to be astonishing.
- Palm's touchscreen, wireless-charging Pre is widely expected to be a success, and Palm's hinging its entire future on that fact.
- RIM is getting more into the touchscreen market, with upcoming products like the BlackBerry Storm 2, and it's making changes in its design bureau.
- The Android-powered HTC Magic is due soon. And nearly every other phone maker has leaped on the iPhone bandwagon, and is firing out phones inspired by it left, right and center.
Blockbuster discovered that taking too long to catch up with improving technology can suddenly overturn your business. So is Nokia's delayed interest in the touchscreen phone market an indication that the company's been sitting on its laurels for too long, and a hint that its grip on the cellphone market may be about to slip? It's too early to tell. But with Apple placing orders this week for 100 million flash memory chips—twice as many as for the last iPhone launch—it looks like it's intending its touchscreen smartphone to literally sweep the market.