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BOSTON, USA – As I read the past month of articles in my feed reader, I found a bunch of articles pertaining to Nokia that might not have been necessarily big news, but that did resonate with some of my thinking.

Ranging from new devices and a device retrospective, to acquisitions and spin-offs, to clever employees, and to a thoughtful video – the last month was rich in things that made me think.

Before we get to the notable acquisitions and spin-offs, let me first start with a device that is dear to me: the Nokia N86 8MP.

Old and new
Steve Litchfield paused for a moment to make a detailed technical analysis comparing the Nokia N95 to the Nokia N86, as a way to measure the evolution of mobile devices at Nokia. While it is without a doubt that the N95 was a game-changer, the comparison Steve made almost puts the N86 out there also as an über-device.

I’ve used both devices and, as a device within its time, the Nokia N95 was reaching for the stars, whereas the N86 is where all devices should be at the moment. While technically the N86 and N85 are the true next models after the N95, the top of the line has continued moving, placing the N86 one tier below. To me (and I certainly am not expressing the official opinions of Nokia) the N86 is to the N97 what the N73 was to the N95.

Do you think so?

What is most disturbing to me, now that I live in the USA, is that the N95 still trumps most of the phones that are currently available here (story for another day). The N86’s arrival to these shores is immanent and  I wonder how it will be received (one more story for another day).

What’s with the keyboards?
Another observation about the US market is that operators here are keyboard-happy. Especially AT&T. In addition to the Nokia E71x, AT&T offers a wide range of keyboard devices from various manufacturers.

The latest one is the Nokia Surge (AKA the Nokia 6760 Slide).

The interest in keyboards seems to be much greater here in the US than back in Europe. But an earlier article on this subject, by Mike, generated a discussion that suggests that folks outside the US would like to see more keyboard devices, as well.


Removing the complement
Ewan Spence has a nice observation that made me pause. Normally, I suggest folks think of how the mobile and desktop environments can complement each other, for example, setting things up on a larger screen computer and then having it send info over to the phone (think Ovi Maps).

But Ewan points out that the folks who are really active in using mobile browsers might not have (or ever have) a desktop computer. It could be that the mobile phone will be their only computer.

Yes, he’s right. But I’ll spin it a bit and suggest that in those nations, you will have those who have their own desktop machine or use a shared machine occasionally or will go to repair shops where there is a computer. That changes what one might expect from native or Web-based apps for complementing mobiles, with varying expectations of access to desktop computers.

Fun, eh?

A social phonebook
I claim that the phonebook on the mobile is the best social networking app. But we do know that the Nokia’s S60 phonebook has not progressed much from its early days. Yes, there were some apps trying to add some more social dynamism to the phonebook, but nothing that really stuck.

Well, we hope that Nokia’s new jewel, Cellity, a social phonebook company that Nokia recently acquired, will be able to transform the Nokia phonebook. I know some folks from Cellity and am elated that they are now joining Nokia as part of the teams out of Berlin (where the Maps guys are based).


One in, one out
Lots of folks love the Nokia Sports Tracker app and service. Indeed, I’ve used it on and off since the days it was in research and I have given a ton of feedback over the years.

Well, there have been some things going on that have worried everyone that Nokia is going to kill it (see what Ricky has been fretting about).

I did a quick search online and I think that this news hasn’t really been broken. For the most part, we weren’t going to make a big deal about it, and would be explaining more as folks asked.

So, since you are all wondering, Nokia is not killing Sports Tracker, but giving it some wings and will discontinue the Nokia Sports Tracker beta towards the end of 2009 migrating it to Sports Tracking Technologies, a company founded by the creators of Sports Trackers (Ykä Huhtala and Jussi Kaasinen, if you care to know). Given more breathing room, the Sport Tracker guys will be able to start developing other related sports apps.

What do you guys think of this move?

The great Russ
Nokia is fortunate to have a ton of clever and creative folks working for them. Russell Beattie is one of these folks, having a long history of following the industry, creating mobile apps, and being about 3-5 years ahead of everyone else.

I just found out, via the Guru, that Russ created a cool search widget. The interesting thing is that it took him only 3 hours and 30 lines of code to build this widget.


Obsessing about customers
I close out this article with a video from Jeff Bezos about his acquisition of the online shoe store, Zappos. The reason I find this video so great is that Amazon and Zappos are two companies who are obsessed with customer service. I think every company can learn that profits, success, and fun are very compatible with a healthy obsession with the customer.

That’s an inspiration to us all.


Image from Laurel Fan