Open Letter to Nokia

by Tina Holmboe 5th of December 2009 (archive)

Dear Nokia;

Madam. I write you, first and foremost, to congratulate you on forty–one years of service to the cell–phone loving public. In particular I would like to mention the so far impressive–seeming N900 model. Brava!

Yet there are dark skies on the horizon, and I have therefor taken it upon myself to warn you of coming danger. Arrogant, perhaps, but I fear the voices who dare are few and far between.

First and foremost you must — I say again /must/ — resist the temptation of replacing your excellent resistive touch screens with capa … — I can hardly say the word — capacitive. These are working devices, and need the best that, well, money can buy. We, the public, do not concern ourselves with multi–touch, but rather with precision and pen input. I beg, come to your senses!

I shall say little of connectivity. That it will support as much as your current devices goes beyond saying — wifi and bluetooth included, and no scrimping on the profiles either.

Let us then speak of size. It will, perhaps, not come as a surprise when I take inspiration from the so far best personal computer ever created — the Palm T|X. At 76mm wide it rests comfortably, but only barely so, in a normal size hand. The 5800 eXpress Music, on the other hand, is too narrow. Settle in–between — a 3.8 inch screen with very little in the way of an edge around it would do very nicely indeed. At 800 by 480 pixels we’d end up with around 250 dpi, which is perfect for e–books. Of course, could you find it in your hearts to put in more pixels we would, of course, rejoice. The more dots per inch the merrier.

This brings us to height. Enough to accommodate a 3.8 inch screen. Save the mic and the speaker there are no need for anything more — although since the former is rather required, a hard key at the bottom for those times a hard key is needed would be sensible.

At the top you put an HDMI out, a micro USB charger, and a 3.5mm jack. That’ll provide TV/projector connectivity for such things as PowerPoint presentations, a nice, standard charge–and–connect possibility, and the chance for a decent headset.

Place a rocker — volume up and down — on the right hand side, near the top. Perfect spot for two fingers; either to control sound, or to scroll pages in a book reader, office application, or web browser.

A screenlock slider? Capital idea — on the right, please, perhaps next to the power–button and the camera trigger. Don’t be shy; an 5mp camera can fit very nicely; remember that it is not only the optics that matter here — a 1mp camera with lovely optics is as useless as a 12mp camera with crap optics. Balance is the key.

On the left you can easily fit a SIM card slot, and a microSDHC one — or why not go to SDXC right away? While some may think 640kb will be enough for everyone, and that no smartphone need extensible disk, we know different.

For what would be better than, after the work is done, we have the capability of connecting a 22« widescreen monitor, a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and replace that ugly grey office PC with a sleek and clever Nokia? Think about it. »

Thick? No, it shouldn’t be; as thin as you can make it and still have features. A centimetre or so would be lovely — and we don’t mind if you stick a stylus in that centimetre. Say a 10cm one, with a metal core and a softer outer skin.

Did I just forget the keyboard? No, not at all. With a good, resistive screen and well–designed virtual keys there is no need to add weight to the unit.

The inside? You got a choice — Symbian S60 5th, or Maemo. Both’ll do well, but Maemo will do better. OpenVPN, ssh, rsync — these things are needed for a professional business device, and they already exist. Take advantage of that!

Software? Oh, yes. We’ll need software. Don’t spend too much time and resources on «One Store To Rule Them All». Do what you have done: maintain a good program for looking up software in repositories, and improve the SDK so that it is easy to get started, no matter what platform the developer is on.

Yet do not forget the built–ins. A calendar, most assuredly, with week–, day–, month– and year view; with categories, colour coding, alarms … you know of what I am speaking. Don’t leave tasks alone in the dark either — nor disregard the reason why they exist in the first place: to maintain a list of items that needs be done, on a given time, with a given priority, a title, notes attached, alarms, categories, colour coding and, above all, the ability to show more than one of them at a time in a list … and the ability to for that list to have checkboxes for each item, and the checkboxes no larger than the text. We can, and will, use the stylus to check them, have no worries.

But most of all it will, truly, multitask. Any application installed should, naturally, be able to be run in the background. There’ll be no push notifications, no limits, and no capacitive screens.

Bring it out in 2010 and price it like the N900 and you’ve got a deal. I have no doubt you’d also have a success.