Nokia's N9 is incapable of joining Android's fight against Apple

Posted by Radu Tyrsina

It is said that "sisu" is perhaps the word which best characterizes the Finnish people.

Although impossible to translate exactly, "sisu" can be paraphrased as strength of will, determination and perseverance. The word can also be applied to Nokia - as the Finnish handset maker is apparently losing the battle against the iPhone and other Android smartphones.

However, Nokia has not yet lost the will to fight. Indeed, the company recently launched its N9 handset in an apparent effort to rival the upcoming iPhone 5 and thus join forces with the Android army.

It has been exactly one year since Nokia debuted N8, its last high-end smartphone which makes N9 a most welcome offering (at least for those who still believe in MeeGo) in Nokia’s effort to compete against much polished rivals.

Still, let’s hope the N9 is Nokia’s first and last smartphone to use MeeGo as an operating system. In terms of appearance, the N9 looks really hot. It is somewhat of a pity to see it dragged down by a nascent, yet dusty, operating system which has fallen out of favor.

However, the company has recently signed a deal with Microsoft, meaning they effectively dropped MeeGo (and Symbian?) and will replace it with Windows Phone 7.

The N9 smartphone has a polycarbonate body; the material is very useful since it makes the device lighter and improves signal reception. In terms of design, N9 is simply mind-blowing and it could be Nokia’s trump card for winning customer love.

The 3.9-inch AMOLED screen is scratch-proof and capable of rendering 0.41 megapixel resolution, which is even better than the res offered by Samsung’s Galaxy S2. In addition, Nokia has replaced the home button by a swipe gesture, which is something Apple has not (yet) dared to do.

Then again, the Finnish company may not have made the wisest choice when integrating a single-core 1 GHz processor to power the N9. Sure, this is not a standard measure for top level smartphones, but there are already a number of Android smartphones that sport dual-core processors.

Also, does Nokia really believe there are many devs interested in create MeeGo apps? Why try your luck with a company and an OS that seems to have gone the wrong way? And let’s face it, aren’t apps the thing that adds extra flavor to a smartphone? Don’t you get excited when you see ingenious developers creating entertaining and helpful applications?

N9 is likely to fall flat because of this and the smartphone could actually signify the burial for MeeGo. I have to wonder - how would have Nokia’s smartphones looked like if they’d been powered by Android? Then the N9 would have made a real splash on the market.

To be frank, it’s much easier, as a phone manufacturer, to focus mainly on the hardware and design aspects of your handsets, then to coax and mold the software.

That’s why Android is the OS of choice for Samsung and Motorola - even though both companies make slight modifications to the operating system. Still, it leaves them ample room to come up with better products, such as the upcoming Photon 4G and Droid Bionic, not to mention the Galaxy SII, a true commando in Android’s war with the iPhone.

Nevertheless, Apple should still be wary when competing with Nokia. The Finnish are known to be a perseverant nation, they will not stop here.

For example, imagine what future Nokia phones powered by WP 7 will look like. Microsoft will execute the software end of things, while Nokia can be expected to focus mainly on their handset secret recipe. Sounds similar to Android&Co? Well, Symbian is still one of the most used operating systems for mobile phones - even though it will gradually and inevitably be replaced by WP7.

It seems as if Android's market share is poised to increase, being supported by Samsung, Motorola, LG and many other industry heavyweights.

But what about Apple? Will the iPhone 5, which is probably a summer away, crush the competition as it has been doing for the past four years - or it will see its devotees deserting iOS and heading to Android territory?