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ESPOO, Finland – James and Mike have been slogging away, making sure great stories still came through while I cavorted with web-heads at Le Web 08 last week. But, I do know that you folks like it when I point to things that interest us, so I’m back with a few things for you to read.

I’m making a big drop off today, since I am not sure if I’ll have time tomorrow (BTW, my main computer’s hard drive is acting up, contributing to my absence here).

Ranging from devices, to confusion, to freezing conferences, I have a mixed bag for you. And spot the sad news, since while it seems all wonderful, there’s a humongous elephant in the room. Read on.

Le Web
No sooner was I back from Nokia World 2008 and I set off to Le Web 08, the yearly European gathering of digirati. While I think it’s indicative of the state of the European Web world that most of the people on stage were Merkins, the organizers once more managed to create a huge social object around which we could gather, argue, learn and make connections.

Some folks were not impressed, but as usual, for me, it wasn’t the speakers, but what was discussed around the conference. From meeting the guys working hard on the Finnish tech start-up scene (who brought a sauna to Le Web!), to a Turkish (brought up in Australia) woman hockey player from UNESCO, to new products from a ton of folks I know, there was a lot to see and chat about.

Three products that keep coming back to me are:
Jolicloud, a cloud service, evolution of the founder’s Netvibes days, for Netbooks. I hope to take the time to talk more about this, particularly the growth of Netbooks, especially in the coming year.
Awayfind, a very simple but effective way to screen for emails you must attend to while away from the desk, a nice mix of Web and mobile.
Celitty’s social phonebook, mixing your contacts, social networks, and messages.

One more thing, Udo Szabo came in to talk about Ovi. See the presentation in our SlideShare channel.

Club 1100 and my N85
Uh, at some point I need to relate to you all how I did with the Nokia 1209 in my Club 1100 challenge. Let’s say that I dropped the phone as fast as I could on 30 November at midnight. I was in Barcelona for Nokia World and knew I would need a super smartphone (my N85) to get me through the week (and the following week in Paris).

It was a wise decision. Indeed, in Paris, I did not use a laptop or N810 (I had taken it expecting WiFi at Le Web) all week. Keeping up on Twitter and email and just about everything else (except writing articles here, of course) with my N85 (yes, I am a geek!).

But, don’t take it from me. Check out this video from this N81 fan who just upgraded.

Did you know?
And speaking of upgrades, did you know that the N96 had a firmware upgrade? You can get it, I suppose, over the air (instructions here). Some folks are happy (though the VoIP folks will still not be served – working on it!).

But, it’s the new phones that get folks going. Did you know that the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic sold like hotcakes in Russia, 5 to 1 relative to the iPhone in the same time after launch? That’s what Renegade Fan Boy is reporting. I have yet to check this, but it’s actually hard to nail someone down with sales figures at this company.

Future and past
What else? Well, seems folks are all adither over a patent we filed of some funky new form-factor. While I can’t say if it’s a real device or not (not that I would, in any case), keep in mind that companies like ours file oodles of patents every year, not all of them leading to products. I like to say that Nokia leaves stuff on the table that some companies never could imagine.

But, will this funky form factor every fly? I don’t know, but Mobile Gazette might be able to tell us. They recently posted about three phones that changed the world, and three that didn’t. I bet you folks could whip up your own 3×3 list, so feel free to do your own post or leave a comment.

And speaking of old phones, here’s a retrospective (also from Mobile Gazette) of a very stylish and ground-breaking phone, the Nokia 8310.

Elephants of the World
Do you know the term “Peak Oil“, the time where peak oil production is passed? How about “peak phone”. Are we past the time of peak phone production? You do know that Nokia is expecting a global reduction in phone sales across the market. Hey, I’m not speculating, just repeating what the boss said. I do not have a crystal ball of any kind to really know where the market is going.

If I recall correctly, there was another year that was lower than the previous in phone sales (2001?), so this is not the first time. But, folks, everyone who can afford a phone has one. And almost two thirds of people will have a phone sometime in the next 18 months, or so.

So, have we reached “peak phone”? What do you think?

Image from Marshall Astor