Nokia 7650: smart phone, shame about the price

Chicken and Egg

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

It's a phone and it's a camera, all in one. It'll cost you €550 (£340)* and you can get one in six months time.

That's all you need to know about the Nokia 7650, which despite months of hype and breathless gush from ... uh, well people like us, actually, is simply a fancy phone.

But Nokia summoned 300 journalists and analysts to the launch in Barcelona, and Chairman and CEO Jorma Ollila describes it as Nokia's most important launch of the year.

So what gives?

Well, for a start it's important simply because all the interested parties - including rival handset manufacturers, and even more so the carriers - desperately need it to be a success. Simple voice phones are becoming a throwaway commodity, and terminal manufacturers have seen handset sales dip for the first time ever.

Even more than the phone makers, though, the cash-strapped networks need to raise their ARPUs (Average Revenue Per User) to justify the vast cost of investing in the infrastructure, and in many cases, crippling 3G taxes. So everybody needs to earn a dime.

The pitch

Here's how everyone will make money. Slick new phones such as the 7650 take advantage of Multimedia Messaging (MMS), so we'll all be beaming 30-40k snaps of ourselves to each other. Whether the networks charge by the minute or by the byte, they make more cash, the argument goes, simply because we're besotted with the idea of texting each other.

And (we're keeping track of the argument here) exchanging a quick snap is simply an extension of what's already the world's most popular P2P network. SMS text messaging.

In a touchy-feely presentation, the Nokia boss talked of the immediate emotional impact of receiving a personal photo, and promised that by the end of next year half of Nokia's handsets would be MMS enabled.By the end of 2003, said Ollila, all new Nokia phones will be MMS devices: which is a commitment to make every mobile phone either a fully-fledged camera or a picture viewer.

The phone

The Swedish sites which scooped the first pictures of the new device were spot-on.

First impressions are of a remarkably compact and light device (it really doesn't feel its 154g). A cover slides down to reveal a small keyboard at the front, and uncovers the camera aperture at the back. At which moment the colour display turns into a live viewfinder, just like a 'real' digital camera.

From then on you work your way around using a tiny joystick, and the familiar Nokia buttons and an additional Menu key (it isn't a touch screen, so the buttons are all you've got). The entire UI is very well thought out, with that very discreet joystick the centrepiece.

The software has the function-centric Symbian hallmark, so as soon as you've grabbed a snapshot, a Send-To menu option pops up to invite you to send the picture via infra red or Bluetooth to another compatible device, or via SMS aka MMS, or via email. And off you go.

It's also a full PDA, and although it cuts no corners with the PIM suite, which is the time-tested Psion Series 5 software in a 2002 guise, you can only input text via the numeric phone keypad. European teenagers raised on text messaging will doubtless be able to knock out 160 words per minute on one of these, but us older users will struggle to find it an adequate replacement for a true character recognition device. Fortunately, even on these prototypes, the software feels snappy.

It's promised to be a 2up, 2 down GPRS device, but won't initially be triband, with 900/1800MHz GSM only. It'll support HSCD, up to the theoretical (should we say mythical) 43.2 kbits/s.

The catch

There's only one, really: the price. When most phone users expect the handset to be free, and when decent cameras can be found for less than $100, $600 is a lot to pay for that piece of instant enchantment. Put another way, if the device was $99, and subsidised by the network as phones always have been, we've little doubt the world would beating a path to Nokia's door: because these are a lot of fun.

As it is, we're back to the great convergence chicken and egg question, which is that the networks don't want to subsidise the phones even though the prize is increasing ARPUs in the long run. You can hardly blame Nokia for not swallowing the difference itself: those 'free' GSM phones have always been expensive little real-time 32bit RISC computers, that cost £150-£300 of real folding stuff to make. Giving stuff away for less than cost isn't an option, these days.

Until the carriers agree to subsidise these smartphones, they may as well dream of plump ARPU fruit falling into their laps, because we can't see a market developing with terminals priced like this. And the price falls, the splendid 7650 will remain a niche device at best.

In Japan, fourteen camera phones like this one are available, half of them integrated all-in-one devices, and the rest bundled with a plug-in camera. The devices sell with a year's airtime from around 8300 yen ($67), with most deals below $100.


* Apologies for the startling error in the original draft, which was caused by using the incorrect exchange rate. We're obviously not getting back to the EuroZone often enough.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes
4TB of home storage is great, until you wake up to a dead device
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Intel offers ingenious piece of 10TB 3D NAND chippery
The race for next generation flash capacity now on
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story


Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.