Secrets @ MWC09. Nokia Sparrow, Android 3.0, Luxury Android from Motorola and more
Eldar Murtazin from mobile-review.com is probably the best connected journalist covering the mobile industry, with amazing access inside almost any major cellphone maker.
And he proved that again at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
When we all were busily running around reporting on all the new mobile products , Eldar was sneaking inside the closed demo rooms of Nokia, Motorola and others to check out what these companies are preparing to launch as far as in 2011.
Lucky for us Eldar has started sharing some bits and pieces about these things on his personal blog and in some other public places. (Disclaimer: everything below is only rumors, but considering the source, I put a lot of trust in them)
Let’s start with some pretty far out stuff.
Nokia Sparrow multi-core computer running Linux
ARM’s multi-core Sparrow chip has just been announced last week, and Nokia is already working on it’s first compact mobile computer with some blow-out specs, running Linux OS on this CPU. But don’t get your hopes up – this Nokia device is slated only for 2011 release.
Eldar got to play some with the early prototype and found it mighty interesting.
The design of Nokia Sparrow device does not follow the current netbook trend, going more the MID way, with some passing resemblance to Nokia N800 internet tablet.
It will have multi-slide keyboard, with different layouts/keys revealed as you slide it in different directions. The display also slides in several directions for different functions – think Nokia N97 tilting display.
The new Nokia computer has a very interesting keyboard with diamond shaped, elevated keys inverted to each other. At first glance it seems very uncomfortable – the keys are pretty small (about half the size of normal key), actually the device itself is rather small. But when you start typing on it, it works very well. It is very difficult to hit multiple keys with a finger, even on purpose.
The Nokia Sparrow computer has a novel, transparent widget based interface. Each running application gets it’s own semi-transparent widget to put it’s content in. Multiple applications can be stored in memory “for months”. E.g. when you are writing a document or e-mail, just swipe the finger through the screen and semi-transparent panels with active or pre-set applications and their content pop-up. Select one and you can start working with it at once.
Well, that’s about it for now. I asked our Ilinca to draw up something from the musings above. What with all the things lost in translation, and not really very exhaustive visual description from Eldar, I’m sure it’s pretty far off the real thing. But one needs to start somewhere:
Android is pretty well stuck right now, because of Google, which does not really want to strongly promote Android devices yet. They have a key partner – HTC – which already released/announced phones (Dream, Magic) based on Android 1.0.
The first release of Android OS – it’s Google making a claim for the future position in mobile OS market. It is more like a marketing tool to train the public on Android and also to give the developers a live device to make the apps for. Though there will be some interesting new Android devices coming from HTC and others later this year.
Android 2.0 looks pretty sad. Android won’t get to the level Google and partners want to see it on until releases 3.0 and 4.0. It has multiple partners working on Android 3.0 devices and there were some demos of the handsets with Android 3 in closed showrooms. They look fantastic. The problem is that Android 3.0 is not slated for release until the mid of 2010, with version 4 to follow in 2011. So it will be a while until Android devices reach their full potential.
Some good news for Motorola?
There might have been a reason why Motorola looked so lame at MWC 09. According to Eldar:
The biggest surprise of the show? Motorola –no doubt about it. 100, 1000 percent. Elegant and very unusual. Common words hide very uncommon things. Someone smart, very smart joined the company. And clearly with the experience not from the University bench.
Disinformation is pouring through all the channels inside the company and everyone gets his own, different spin. The foot solders get one part of the picture, which, while using the right words totally confuses true meaning. Middle management gets confided with a bigger part of the story, as a “big secret”. Higher level managers outside the States get one more peace of the puzzle. But even the partners of the company do not have the full info.
Everyone is confused, competitors won’t even look Motorola’s way, which allows it to do some very unusual things.
Will it work or not? I won’t say. Actually I can’t say, because I’m not sure myself yet. The basic idea is very simple and elegant. It could work.
But before it get’s public, there will still be some announcements of the models we are used to. So do not expect anything exciting from the next few announcements. They are just placeholders.
Motorola is also definitely working on an Android device. And will use the chassis of one of the recently cancelled models. It may be VE1/RAZR3/Ruby, but I am not sure about that. Eldar mentions that there’s something of the RAZR style in the new phone, but it’s actually kind of new form factor, which will be launched at the end of the year.
The most interesting thing about the new Motorola Android phone is that it is not targeting the mass market. It’s aiming towards the truly luxury one. Something on the theme of Moto Aura – expensive chassis and unusual services, somewhat comparable to Concierge from Vertu.
Other interesting tidbits
Sony Idou presented at MWC was only a plastic mock-up. SE does not have a working Idou model yet. And, regarding the 12mpx camera, Sony Ericsson themselves have not yet seen the actual camera modules.
Windows Mobile ain’t doing too well. Plans to reduce the WM license price by half are under way, just to keep WM handset makers on board. Very many of them are looking Google’s way.
About WM Dialer app. It was a major problem in earlier WM versions, resulting in dropped and lost calls, etc;. The reason was pretty bad quality programming of dialer app, which was constantly reloading every 30 mins. When Eldar asked some Microsoft reps whether they solved the problem and rewrote the Dialer app, the answer was – “Yes, sure, everything’s OK now. We don’t have to relaunch it anymore, now we have a separate utility that clears memory from it… every 15 mins…”
Well, that’s about all I was able to fish out of Eldar’s musings for now.
But stay tuned