N-Gage me… N-Gage me not…


Ah N-Gage. I’ll never forget buying an original N-Gage handset as a Flash Lite 1.1. test device when I was a developer. It was an after-thought that it also played cool games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 🙂 But it was a console model, the hardware was the platform, and ultimately a big failure for Nokia. Not so with the current iteration of N-Gage. And from a business standpoint, it’s brilliant. It’s everything that the old N-Gage wasn’t. Portable, scalable, and looking forward to a future where usability, not hardware is key. Not unlike Nintendo’s path with the Wii. Enfranchise gamers with low cost, low margin hardware that exceeds their expectations with best-in-class game play.

My big gripe (there’s always one), is making it easy. If the N-Gage app isn’t built into your handset, unless you’re a super-geek, you won’t know how to find it. If it is, great, but for the love of god at least make it easy to do business. I say this because I just now tried to buy Creatures of the Deep through my N95 8GB. At the point of purchase, I got an unknown error. So they just lost a sale. It doesn’t matter how good your platform is if you make it so your money-in-hand customers can’t buy your goods.

Still, not to diminish the fact that N-Gage isn’t anything but hot! Fantastic! Awesome business model and revenue potential. But they already blew their wad with the release. If the transactional piece isn’t in place, not to mention a large offering of truly great content, they are out tons of cash and have squandered that very “hotness” that goes along with a unique product launch. Hope they didn’t pull the trigger too soon.


Flash Lite 3.1 for OEM’s


I picked up on this over at Symbian Freak. With FL3 out for a matter of a few months, FL 3.1 will supposedly have the following enhancements:

    – Much better browsability than FL3
    – Support for h.264 codec
    – Flash 9 content will play in FL3.1 as long as it is published as AS2. AS3 engine is not ported to FL3 yet.

The first two are great… just makes more things possible and compatible for the web and video experience in your mobile. The third is interesting, but looks like it will create some confusion for developers. I’m no purist but publishing an AS2 based project in Flash 9 is a little pointless when you can benefit from AS3 and OOP so I don’t think there will be tons of extra compatibility added to the browsing experience. Plus does this mean that content identifying itself as FL9 will error out or not render if published using AS3? We’ll see.

All I can say is there better be an upgrade path for my Nokia N95 8GB. 🙂

N95 8GB – The reason this man is smiling


At the beginning of the year I promised myself that the next handset I would buy would have to have Flash Lite 3 pre-installed and working in the browser. When I heard from Adobe’s Bill Perry that FL3 was shipping on new Nokia N95 8gb models on the heals of the recent N95 firmware upgrade, I pulled the trigger. Cost me a cool $600 shipped with tax but so far, worth every penny. After a year in service, my Nokia 5700 is officially retired.

It’s a truly awesome handset and I look forward to testing out some of Nokia WRT going forward. I’m also loving the Maps program integrated with the onboard GPS. And did I mention 3G networking? It’s all good.

And here’s a shout out to my friend Ugur in Finland from Kuneri. This video done by one of his staff was inspiring to say the least.

S60 Browser Identity Crisis


Something occurred to me the other day when browsing the web on my Nokia 5700. The S60 ‘Browser’, yup that’s its name, while a fantastic product and maybe the best mobile browser solution, is suffering from a lack exposure due to it’s environment, specifically S60.

When it comes down to it, a customer just wants to browse, but do they care how or with what? I tend to think most customers are aware of what they are using on the desktop and even have a preference of what they use to do so. And when there are differentiating factors, no matter how small, it brings value and awareness. Take Safari for instance. It’s a product that has an identity and connection with its users. It has an icon and experience that you can travel to other devices and platforms that retains brand recognition. Same for Firefox, you see the icon or hear the name and you know what you’re dealing with. Not so with S60’s Browser. What’s worse is that it the identity potential is undermined by “Themes” where basic system icons and placement can be manipulated by the user.

The Browser needs to be abstracted from the S60 operating system going forward for it to have a separate identity that a customer can identify as a true value proposition. It needs to have the same icon and live in the same place on the handset as if it were a 3rd party application.

Why? Because what good is a best in class mobile browser if no one knows it? I think the S60 folks need to take a note from Apple here. They should be trying to emulate a product roadmap Apple has with all of it’s iProducts (iPhoto, iTunes, etc…). Imagine people choosing a S60 handset specifically for the Browser. It’ll never happen until they give it an identity.