Nokia N97 Was Supposed To Be An “iPhone Killer” But It Killed Nokia Instead
N97 is a 3G smartphone with Symbian 9.4 S60 operating system launched by Nokia at the end of 2008. At that time, the iPhone had broken away from the initial sense of youth and began to be noticed by more people
The mobile phone industry leader Nokia urgently needed a mobile phone to save the field, At that time. This task fell on the fledgling N97. Before N97, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic was the first Symbian S60 phone with a touch screen released by a Finnish manufacturer. This is not an excellent mobile phone, but it achieved 8 million sales in the first year and achieved gratifying results. Nokia wants to launch a more high-end product to continue the glory of the N5800.
But as a result, it failed, said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s vice president of marketing at the time. “From the perspective of shipment data and sales, N97 is a huge success for us. However, in terms of consumer experience and what we did not expect, this product is very disappointing.”
Nokia was still the leader of the industry at the time and could sell mobile phones based on its trademark alone. In the past, smartphones only ran a few applications and only had access to a limited network. The smartphones of the future must face sites with similar PC pages and run applications as complex as desktop computers, which far exceeds the hardware and software capabilities of the Nokia platform.
The iPhone made the touch screen popular, and the N97 also has a touch screen. The 3.5-inch screen has a video-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio and is larger than the screen equipped with the 5800. However, it still uses resistive touch. Compared with capacitive touch, it is always a poor choice, with lower sensitivity and lack of multi-touch support.
The screen of N97 was very good at the time, except for the resistive screen
Steve Jobs fascinated the whole world with two-finger pinch screen zoom and iPhone’s rich apps. The competing touch-screen version of Symbian feels like a patchwork. The goal is to make the operating interface of the Symbian system work with the touch screen.
This task is no easy task. So far, Microsoft is still trying to balance the Windows 10 interface so that it works equally well on the touch screen of a tablet computer as it does on a traditional laptop. You may remember UIQ, which is a branch of Symbian designed for touch screen phones, but UIQ has not become the final answer. Compared to iOS, it is closer to Windows Mobile. The company behind it also fell into trouble soon and went bankrupt in early 2009.
Why did N97 fail?
This is a controversial issue, because it does not seem to have much to do with the N97 screen, and it is not even caused by the clumsy Symbian software. Mainly because of Nokia’s mentality at the time, this is the real problem. N97 was launched in mid-2009. Its single-core processor has a clocked frequency of 434 MHz and only 128MB of RAM. After loading the operating system, there is only about 50MB of free space.
This is actually not a key factor, these parameters are the same as the original iPhone and the iPhone launched two years ago. Besides, N97 also competes with the iPhone 3GS with a 600MHz processor and 256MB RAM.
In fact, mobile phone processors at the time were very weak, and iOS did not learn to multitask until many years later.
The Symbian system has been supporting true multitasking for many years, but it runs a relatively simple App that can easily adapt to the limited resources available. The point is that after Apple and Google opened the doors of their app stores, developers quickly turned to create apps and games for desktop computers, and N97 was unable to deal with such apps.
The Symbian system at the time could only provide a simpler App
Compared with the underpowered hardware of N97, failure to establish a competitive application store may be a bigger problem. In June 2009, Nokia’s Ovi Store had “up to 525 applications.” For comparison, Apple issued a press release in November 2009, claiming that its App Store can download 100,000 applications (a few months ago, the App Store reached 1 billion application downloads). At about the same time, the Android App Store had about 11,000 apps.
And the number of apps is relatively limited
Nokia N97 has a slide-out design with a three-line QWERTY keyboard displayed below the display. That was an advantage at the time, but it was just another manifestation of Nokia’s outdated ideas. With the improvement of input methods, touch screen keyboards have become more and more accurate and soon eclipsed physical keyboards.
Is the full keyboard a disadvantage?
Many people thought that this was the flagship standard. The touch screen even broke the typing speed record. Last year, the BBC reported that the average typing speed of smartphones was 38 words per minute, while the average typing speed of a full-size PC keyboard was 52 words per minute. The narrow keyboard on the N97 can never achieve this speed, and the touch screen is the future.
Although there are still people who miss the QWERTY keyboard, it is tomorrow’s yellow flower and the mainstream user's choice to leave.
Other hardware aspects. On the surface, the Nokia N97 seems to have the upper hand. It comes with 32GB of built-in storage, and a MicroSD slot supports expansion. It also has stereo speakers, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and even supports FM, so users can enjoy multimedia anytime, anywhere. The highest storage capacity of the iPhone during the same period was 16GB, as was the original Galaxy S launched the following year. Nokia also equipped its mobile phone with a 5 mp camera with Carl Zeiss optics and supports 480p video recording at 30fps. The image quality of photos and videos is also very good, which is much better than the 3 mp lens on the 3GS.
N97’s photography at the time was also top level
It is precisely because of this beautiful hardware that the Nokia N97 sales reached 2 million in the first three months after the release, but the quality problems in the software and hardware development process disappointed consumers.
If you watch Vanjoki’s full interview, you will find that he hopes to solve software problems through OTA upgrades and improve the quality control of the production line. However, the damage has been done, and Nokia’s “iPhone killer” has nothing to do.
Subsequently, Nokia began some powerful changes, when they fully turned to Microsoft’s Windows Phone. On the bright side, the WP7 system requires a hardware platform that is more advanced than the hardware platform Symbian was running at the time. On the bad side, it is also a very terrible place. WP7 is both late and unfinished. It is just a semi-finished system.
Because of this series, Nokia’s attempt to catch up with competitors failed. The main reason was that the huge battleship at that time had no time to turn around and even less time to build a new ship next to the ship that was already on fire. Apple and several Android mobile phone manufacturers worked together to launch Nokia into the mobile phone industry.