Commentary
11/13/2007
02:52 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

Android Puts The Screws To S60

I assume by now everyone has checked out the video demos of Google's Android platform. If not, you can watch them here. One thing I noticed about the slick user interface is that it marches right past S60's usability. What can S60 do to prevent Google from eroding its market share?



I assume by now everyone has checked out the video demos of Google's Android platform. If not, you can watch them here. One thing I noticed about the slick user interface is that it marches right past S60's usability. What can S60 do to prevent Google from eroding its market share?In short, probably nothing. Any new mobile platform will steal users from each and every other platform that already exists on the market. But that sure shouldn't stop Symbian and Nokia from trying.

Even the latest iteration of S60 (which has been under constant development for eons) doesn't do some of the things we saw in the Android demo. While Symbian and Nokia are probably hard at work developing touch-capable software and phones, Google already has done it, to a certain extent. The demos highlight how applications can be used and tied together seamlessly to create a natural workflow.

Don't get me wrong. S60 is a great platform, one of the best, in fact. Its strengths have led it to become the dominant smartphone platform in the world (78% share). But it is still somewhat clunky to use. It requires users to think like they are interacting with a computer.

If there's one thing the iPhone seems to have taught the world, it's that mobile user interfaces don't have to be painful to deal with. While everyone else is going to be playing catch up for a while, Google will represent a serious challenge when Android finally becomes available. Will it have the hardware cache, the integrated platform that Apple has with the iPhone and its other products? Or the global manufacturing and distribution empire that Nokia has? Likely not. But the interface sure does some cool things. And as is evidenced by U.S. sales of the iPhone, people are tired of difficult user interfaces.

So Nokia needs to make some snappy changes to S60. Though the Finnish company isn't known for quick updates to its core platform, in this case it has a lot more to lose than anyone else if it can't play the UI game up to Apple and Google's standards.

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