The Nokia N9, MeeGo and you

I saw the Nokia N9 sometime in June 2011, when it was launched not by Stephen Elop but by Nokia SVP of Design, Marco Ahtisaari. I loved it — good build quality, great design, good interface, superb camera, finally usable browser. All the makings of a winning product, no?

Sometime later that week, Mr. Elop decided to say that they will ship a Windows Phone this year. It became clearer that the N9 would be sold in some markets, while the new-fangled Windows phone will be sold in certain markets. There would be no intersect.

Nokia Malaysia invited a bunch of folk to launch the Nokia N9 in Malaysia yesterday (13/09). Folk were treated to a ninja parkour at the launch, and the theme clearly is “perfect fluidity”. The key takeaways from the event:

  • It didn’t go for sale immediately at launch. It is expected to do so sometime early October 2011. This is too late.
  • 16GB model costs RM1,799. 64GB model costs RM2,088.
  • Asked whether there will be more MeeGo devices the answers were very shift. Simply the innovation from the device will live on. They are experimenting with the consumer experience and looking for feedback. They are focusing on the apps people actually use — i.e. quality over quantity. No one wants to speculate if there will be another MeeGo device or not. To me, that translates to no more MeeGo devices. But the amazing things like NFC pairing with headsets (over Bluetooth), fluid swipes from edge-to-edge, these are things we may see in the next Windows phones.

There were not enough devices for all to play with. I’ve been told that the Nokia N9 will cost 599 and 699 euros respectively for 16gb and 64gb models. Some regions aren’t even getting the phone. So Malaysians can start a little eBay business and start exporting phones :)

Malaysians tend to change phones every 12-18 months on average (at least in the city, from what I can see). Will this device be a hit? Who knows. I don’t know how much more goodwill Nokia can get. The price points are a bit costly, but well below the iPhone (starts at RM2,190).

Looking for a device for the next 12 months, you’ll probably have all the apps you need –  it after all runs all Qt native apps.

However if you’re starting to sync with the cloud, and use web-based apps (say Dropbox, TripIt, 1Password, etc.) you may be better off with an iOS or Android powered device. WhatsApp will work, for example, but the challenge is for Nokia to ensure that what people use regularly will be on the phones. Web apps are becoming very important, and I applaud the FT for giving up the whole AppStore idea to focus on a HTML5 app. That in itself will be N9-ready.

Am I going to buy it? I’m having mixed-feelings at the moment. I’ll wait till the launch to actually decide.