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Category: nokia

Nokia Research Centre , Racoon, CBP and NokiaCV

I am very excited and impressed by the folks and work that is coming out of Nokia Research Centre. The kind of products(prototypes)  that they are rolling out are amazing and at times just mind blowing.

A little old news by now but nonetheless a very significant release is  the release of a  mobile web server (called Racoon) running inside a Nokia phone ( like N80, E60, N93 & N95 etc). The thought of putting a mobile web server in a phone is wierd at the first glance but it really opens up endless possibilites. Check out this post by Symbian Guru on  potential applications and use.

A very nifty and powerful application using the web server is the Contacts Browser Plugin released by NRC.  Check out this description from their website about the usage of Contacts Browser Plugin.

“So there you are browsing the web with your PC looking for a place to eat

With the help of modern search engines you find the contact information easily. So what do you do next? You grab your phone and start entering the number you have found manually to your contacts. After entering the information you probably call the restaurant to reserve a table or send an SMS to your colleague.

What if you could simply just click the number and select what you want to do? 

This is what Contacts Browser Plugin allow you to do. For this you should have Firefox with GreaseMonkey, an S60 phone (3rd Edition) with Racoon and Python for S60 installed .

Lets assume that you want to book a table at a Restaurant . First you find the web page, for example with Google search in your Firefox. Then you click the phone number, which brings up a pop-up containing the phone number and you click on it

Clicking the call-button will initiate the call from your S60 phone lying next to your PC.

For full details on how it works refer to the project page at NRC.

Now something like this is just  mind blowing,infact  nothing short of a magic(Just like what Sir Arthur said any sufficiently advanced technology should just be like magic). I think these are baby steps towards nokia’s new strategy ( “Mobilizing Internet” ) to completely redefine themselves.

Today Nokia made another release called the Nokia Computer Vision library. Pretty cool ! New user interfaces ( building blocks of which would some of these libraries) are going to be extremely important in how we interact with an mobilized internet.

Resuming

     My absence from the blogging world has been extremely long and I missed a lot of news and action due to that. Though I have had previous breaks but none of them have lasted this long.  The reason was that I had been working on my startup (Motvik) which kept me very occupied leaving pretty much no time for anything else.  The product that I am working would enter in it’s private alpha stage today which now gives some room to do few other things.

Some of the regular readers would know about my extreme obsession with camera phones and how I have raved about them previously so it is just easy to guess that my new product also is around a camera phone.  To explain in one single sentence what the product does

      “It  is piece of software which converts a cameraphone into a webcam for use with PC/Laptop” 

 and hence the product has been named ‘wwigo’ (prounounced ‘vigo’ ) which stands for ‘webcam wherever i go’, it currently works only on select Nokia phones while we are working on to build support for other phones and platforms.

We have been quite inspired by getting real and hence have taken a lot of lessons from that in doing our work , this blog post itself is a testimony to doing development in a real way. 🙂

With a milestone achieved I hope to get back on track on blogging on a regular basis. Btw you would also find me blogging at the Motvik blog. One of the things that i realized is that running a startup and blogging simulataneously is extremely difficult and I bow to all those who are able to do it very successfully.

Smartphone bazaar

I don’t know the number of smartphone users (let’s say just Nokia) in India but I am sure that is not so low that it is economically insignificant. I have myself observed hundreds of people carrying a Nokia 6600 or 3230 and have also observed a few carrying an N70. Infact I have an N70 myself which I initially bought so that I could toy/play around with that phone and experient with few symbian applications (that I hopefully can sometime write) but of late have found that it is an extremely usable phone and I decided to use it as a regular phone as well ( Even though at it’s price I would have never bought it as a regular usage phone).Talking about N70 it is an interesting platform in which I can plug so many features which is what is what is impressive about the device but I have my fair shair of complaints in it as well as many of the features dump you when you really need them. But anyway this post is not about N70 or Series 60 etc. It is rather about smartphones and their usage in India and hurdles a user might face and also gaps which need to filled to make it a better experience.

A smartphone is a platform and a platform is another way of saying it is a two way market. Now any market will be a successful one only when there are enough buyers and sellers in it. The interesting thing though about a two market is that the number of sellers and buyers are interdepent on each other and which is what is that leads to a chicken and a egg problem in it. Any platform needs great amount of planning and coordination for it kick off but once it is fully functional then it kind sustains well mostly by itself.

A Windows OS is also platform which did not grow very big in India because that market had too much friction in it. Any application worked out to be very expensive for an average Indian, the cost of software in dollar was converted into rupees and sold as it is. There was no widespread payment mechanisms (credit/debit cards ) available through which payments could happen. So basically products were not findable and those that were findable were not buyable and this lead to creation of now very successful grey markets of Nehru place etc.

Now while looking for application for smartphone sitting here in India I find it extremely difficult to get it in a legitimate way. There are tons of extremely useful application which increase the usefulness of having a smartphone but I find that there is just no way I could get them. The only way I could obtain any application is either a trial version available at Handango or if it is a free to download application. If there is an application which can be used if only it can bought or if its trial version expires then I am kind of stuck. If I wish to buy an application then I have to pay in dollars (a credit card required for that) and also that works out to be 10 – 20 $ for each application. I have absolutely no intention of paying 500 – 1000 Rs for any mobile phone application. If it were about 50 Rs or even if it is Rs 100 then I might go ahead and pay that for some exteremly useful applications and if it were 10 – 20 Rs then I would absolutely pay for every application that I use.

If we have to avoid a grey market for smartphone application then we must take intiatives and create a bazaar for smartphone. We seriously lack a smartphone bazaar just like one is available in the US but this bazaar should be properly tuned to the Indian market realities. It should be sensitive to price points that works in India, should support a payment mechanism which is easy to use and would be very widely usable and acceptable in an Indian scenario, should have mechanism through which products can be findable. I find it surprising very surprising why is that any enterprising entreprenuer has not taken up this interesting market gap and turned it into a business opportunity when all the necessary elements for the solution is available and all it needs is someone to put it all together. The telco’s and the associated parties just won’t do this because it threatens their position.

Just to reiterate what is needed

  • A place where users can download an application and pay for it with the least amount of friction.
  • A place where one can upload applications to be sold in Indian Rupees ( Developed by Indian Developers and Products sold by US/UK in $)
  • A payment mechanism which works for paying small denominations like 50-100 Rs and which is ubiquitous
  • A place where conversations can happen and products can become findable.

To provide above it requires someone to build a simple site with very basic features like that of Handango, integrate with payment companies that are in India now like mChek or Paymate that allow you to pay via SMS and do payments of small denominations and then loosely couple this with a forum like allaboutsymbian.com or howardforums.com created specifically for India where people can converse and application can be findable.

Now if you are interested in this and wish take this further then you could complain saying that I have outlined all the easy part and what about the not so easy part of solving the chicken & egg problem. For that you should go figure out a way by yourself to seed the market, either by creating by your own a few compelling applications or go to talk some existing publishers or maybe even speak to handango.

Wifi Nokia handsets released in India

    I thought it will take a long while before wifi handsets will make an entry into India but I am glad that these devices have hit the Indian market. (via Mobile Pundit)

      The price is range is very high and initial reviews reiterate that these Nokia phones are also as heavy as brick but alpha users will live that. After all when Motorola released their first phone they were just like that heavy & bulky, it is just a matter of time that compact design will come out and also price will become affordable. I am super excited about the possibilities of this phone with FON.

       Interest for such device and possibilities has been quite there, now we that have the potential of these truly disruptive things happening.

Nokia Media Platform

Most of us would have seen the Nokia N series ad featuring Gary Oldman in which he quips “All the world is a stage and all men & women merely players”.

 

He has recently released a short film shot entirely using a Nokia N93 called Donut. It is available on Nokia studio.

 

I really love what Nokia has done with their N series as a platform, I am not super thrilled with N70 phone though (has good features but is very slow and keypad is hard, will post a long review on it sometime) but as a platform they have created an amazing setup. Nokia which has stopped calling the device it manufactures a phone and labeled them as a multimedia computer has not only created this device but has enabled in all possible ways other complimentary service/product that would be required for using the device. Nokia is one company which understands the 2.0 equation pretty well in the mobile & media space and has been positioning itself well by being the best at what it is best – a platform player. Check out

Nokia N Series Studio

Nokia MBlog

I am waiting for the day when the price of an N93 device drops to one third of its current price ( ie to current price of a 6600) from which point onwards a true revolution would ensue and we can expect to see a long tail in media very evidently 🙂

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