Friday, October 19, 2007

S60 Touch Vs. Internet Tablets: Part 1

Over the past few weeks Nokia has thrown some heavy news our way with the first being about the upcoming S60 touch UI that will power next generation Nokia smartphones with tactile feedback enabled touchscreens (finally). Second being the introduction of the N810 Internet Tablet, which is set to be available in mid November. Considering these two significant announcements were made so close to one another, and both S60 and Maemo are beginning to offer very similar functions as mobile platforms, it makes me wonder if there will be room for both in the distant future.

I've had quite a bit of time with Linux and the Maemo platform, and I truly believe this is an excellent path for Nokia to have taken. As for Symbian and the S60 platform, I'm a bit new to this one, but I know it's a well established system for a great deal of Nokia's smartphones, and has the feel of a mature (some may say aged) platform. I won't go into details of the history of these two platforms too much, as there are tons of info on both for one to spend ages learning from. The main things I'd like to look at are the similarities and differences of the two, what the two platforms can gain from each other, and what the future may hold for each.

The Internet Tablet is now a part of the Nseries family of devices in Nokia's portfolio which brings them that much closer to becoming more than just Internet Tablets, and S60 will soon have a intuitive touch interface which brings S60 devices that much closer to becoming more than smartphones. These two changes are just the top of the list of things that will eventually bridge the divide of the two platforms or cause a transition to one or the other. Features like cameras, GPS, and potentially TV-out functions being included in Internet Tablets are obvious hints to this bridge or the direction of where Nokia is moving.

The differences of the two platforms come mostly in the form of the hardware each runs on, but very soon that won't be the case. It's not certain if Nokia intends to make the newer, more flexible Maemo platform a replacement for the aging S60 platform, but if so I think it will be quite a while before it happens. Maemo still has a lot of room for improvement before it can reach the robustness and stability of S60, and S60 is still growing better by the minute. At the moment Maemo is strictly an Internet Tablet platform with major growth in multimedia playback, voice/video over Internet, and navigation functions, and S60 is a robust smartphone platform that can handle a plethora of applications but has never seen the advantages of full page web browsing.

So, these are some of the similarities and differences between the two platforms. In the next post I'll share my thoughts of what they can gain from one another, and some possibilities of what the future has in store for each. Please feel free to share your thoughts and and comments about this idea.


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