Tag Archives: internet tablet

Maemo, MeeGo, Mango and Me

Ever since the February 11 2011 Nokia event cheekily tagged as #NoWin and known colloquially as The Elopocalypse, I’ve struggled to cover Nokia’s present and abandoned strategies here with equal care.  Don’t be misled by my attempts of objectivity over Linux and Microsoft activities, though– it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve been moderating an internal conflict between a growing invasion of open source love versus a legacy of Microsoft development experience combined with strong curiosity.  Neither side has a clear advantage over the other for me and therein lies a conundrum.

I could have very easily avoided the whole controversy at the start.  When I assumed responsibility for Maemo internet tablet quality in the North American market, I could have taken the easy route and stuck to the basics.  That meant developing test plans, training auditors and inspectors, hosting Finnish and Mexican product teams, and making sure CES 2007 was supplied on time with 200 pristine N800s.  Nothing more.

But no.  I’m a device nut.  An admitted hardware geek.  As I’ve shared many times, laying eyes on the Nokia 770 tablet changed everything for me.  It put what I saw then as the future in my hands, literally and figuratively.  I could not just treat this product line as I did the various and sundry cell phones I also touched.  I took tablets personallyContinue reading

Mobile Computing: What’s in a Name?

source: maemo.nokia.com

Smartphones (aka “converged mobile devices) have been around in one form or another since 1992.  The moniker itself has elicited snickers and outright derision, but the mobile industry grasped for a good description of where cell phones were headed and this is what stuck.  It still sounds silly, but has defied reason by surviving… but probably only due to lack of a clear competitor.   Continue reading

MeeGo: the premise and promise

The shock of the Maemo + Moblin = MeeGo development has subsided and I think I’m now ready to offer some analysis as I see it.

Religious battles over application packaging aside, much of the conversation has centered on what this melding means for cell phones… dragging in Apple’s now-venerable iPhone and Google’s up-and-coming Android operating system for contrast and comparison.

But in poring over the OS framework (below) tonight it hit me harder than ever that mobile computing really isn’t just a buzz phrase for Nokia– it’s the real deal.

MeeGo Software Architecture Overview

Continue reading

maemo.org growing pains

Nokia’s launch last year of the N900 mobile computer introduced a bit of disruption to their normal business model.  The ripple effect naturally propagated down to the lowest levels and had a huge impact on the semi-independent community, maemo.org.

Before subjecting you to an epic article, I want to point out that change was anticipated, but have to admit with some embarassment that when talk of adding cellular capability to Maemo devices gained traction, I was one of those naive souls downplaying the potential impact.  I assumed two things, both unfortunately proven incorrect:

  1. the consumer cost of a phone-capable tablet would be fairly low
  2. Nokia would platform the product and continue offering “slate” form factors with no cell phone embedded along with cell-enabled models

But others more prescient grasped very early that even if either or both of these played out (which they sadly didn’t), adding that GSM/UMTS radio introduced the devices to a largely different demographic… one that could significantly shift the priorities of maemo.org.

Continue reading

Use cases for Mobile Internet Devices

As an extension of a previous article on how to make Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) compelling, I have decided to start a series devoting individual articles to particular use cases, one per article.  I am using the broad term here because I’m not focusing on unique products or brands per se but rather the product type.  Of course, knowing Nokia mobile computers (formerly internet tablets) as I do, many of my examples will relate to them.  I welcome examples referencing competing products from readers.

I’m going to start with a use case that does not get a lot of attention but is near and dear to my analytical heart: mobile auditing and inspection in production, shipping or other operations.  I really think the devices have a great deal of untapped potential here!

So stay tuned, and if you have a use case you would like to see explored, feel free to mention it!

From mobile to modular

IBMs MetaPad concept

IBM's MetaPad concept

Back in 2007 I had what I thought at the time was a unique brainstorm in the area of computing and communications.  Noting the quickening convergence between PCs and cell phones, I suggested that the obvious next step would be to bridge the two in a way that had not yet been done: shrink the PC down to a credit-card sized contraption about 5 mm or so thick and encapsulate it in a format that allowed it to be plugged in, PC card style, into an array of device “skins”.  In essence, a core engine that could drive your cell phone, GPS device, netbook or even desktop PC.  The skin, or shell, would contain or connect to all of the audiovisual interfaces and the main power supply… although the engine would of course have to possess its own energy storage for transport between uses.

Continue reading

Why I love Nokia’s internet tablets

The wild bunch at maemo talk know well by now that I’ve been a hardcore advocate of Nokia’s internet tablets ever since a fellow engineer quietly placed a preproduction 770 on my desk a few years ago.  I have been on a rabid one-man mission to promote the touchscreen tablets ever since.

At least, it felt that way in the halls of Nokia, where as a quality engineer I found myself the sole evangelist for getting the tablet technology into corporate and industrial uses.  This was a consumer experiment, I was told, and the product agenda was very limited.  The same applied, I soon found, to the size and scope of the hard-working Nokia developer team involved.

Continue reading

Verizon kick-starting US WiFi?

There are two wireless broadband truisms that have proven unassailable here in the US:

  1. The promise of ubiquitous WiFi has failed, for the most part, to manifest;
  2. Market-restricting service providers fear ubiquitous WiFi

There’s a high correlation between those two axioms, and the result has been a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The largest US telecommunications companies, Verizon and AT&T, have struggled to fit wireless access into their business models (although AT&T has done better of late).  The concern, of course, revolves around monetization– once a widespread, reliable and easy-to-access WiFi infrastructure gained traction, smaller service providers would have the incentive and the means to compete with the bigger players… the latter of which appear to develop allergies to free markets once they reach critical mass.

Continue reading

Purses and platforms

I last wrote about what companies could do to make large-screen Mobile Internet Devices (regardless of producer or actual name) more attractive to consumers.  To spare you having to read the epic piece, in summary my analysis is that everything comes down to the out-of-the-box experience.  Average users do not want to configure or code– at the most they want to install and go, with a ready path to any available installations.

When I say “large screen” note that I’m thinking 3 to maybe 6 inches diagonal.  Any less and it might as well be an MP3 player, any more and it might as well be a netbook or even touchscreen notebook.

I am constantly seeing a demand for such devices, particularly with uses such as ebook readers, portable internet, GPS, et al.  There are typically no complaints about the device size while it’s in use– the gripes come when transport between uses is the issue.

What hit home for me very recently, though, was that the MID transport issue is a problem for only one demographic:


Continue reading

“It’s a cool-looking device… but what does it do?”

One of my internet tablet-toting buddies posted an editorial on why Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) have not yet taken off.  His points have been made before, here and there, but he ties the ends up nicely and I will not argue with the reasoning.  I do, however, want to take it a bit further and offer my own perspective.

My inner geek cannot understand why devices like Nokia internet tablets (one of the better prospects in this area) have not been more popular.  These little babies do it all.  What is not available out of the box is eagerly supplied by a dedicated-if-loose collection of coders who regularly buzz around maemo.org.  Thanks to this creative bunch the feature set of the tablets has been significantly expanded, including such niceties as LAN support and even alternative web browsers.  The potential of the tablets is their selling point.

But the everyday user side of me disputes that conclusion.  The average consumer doesn’t buy anything for its potential– they purchase something for what it can immediately do once the power is applied.  This is where the broad applicability of internet tablets and related devices has been, ironically, their marketing downfall.

Continue reading