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Nokia's 7700 ‘media device’ – first shot in the PDA wars?

But it's not a Communicator. Well, not exactly, just nearly...

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Nokia today unveiled what looks suspiciously like the first phases of its get PocketPC strategy. The tip of the iceberg is the 7700, which you could categorise as kind of the successor to the 9000 series, kind of a Sony-Ericsson P800 me-too and kind of a PDA, and which Nokia categorises as a "media device", but there's enough of the rest of the iceberg showing to be going on with.

First, the 7700 is the first device based on Nokia's Developer Platform for Series 90, which was also announced today. This is for "high-end mobile devices with high-resolution, touch-sensitive color screens", so Nokia's developer platform series now consists of Series 40, Series 60, Series 80 UI and Series 90. Series 80 UI, just to confuse you, is for "Nokia's Communicator line of high-end, top-performance business devices, will continue as the user interface for Communicator devices going forward, and will be aligned with Developer Platform for Series 90." So you look at the 7700, wonder 'is it or isn't it', and answer 'hmmm...'

We expect interesting things to spring from us regularly gnawing at the junction in this 'alignment', but we'll stick with Series 90 at the moment, which goes approximately as follows:

- Java(TM) 2 platform, Micro Edition (J2ME(TM)) with MIDP2.0, CLDC1.0, Wireless Messaging API, Mobile Media API and Java(TM) APIs for Bluetooth
- XHTML browsing over TCP/IP
- MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) with SMIL
- OMA Digital Rights Management (DRM) - forward-lock
- OMA Client Provisioning support
- Symbian OS 7 native APIs - Symbian OS installation file "SIS format" for native applications

It is aimed at devices with a 640x320 touch screen with 65536 colours, i.e. the 7700 right now, and the UI features handwriting recognition (another interesting one to pursue, this), onscreen/virtual keyboard and the ability to control the device with hardware keys.

Nokia today is also 'envisioning' (we would prefer it to envisage, but no matter) "a mobile services mass market", which is one obvious reason why you'd want to get into devices of the class of the 7700 and beyond. The company does not, frankly, go a great deal further than stating an intent here, but it does tell us it expects "virtually all of our future GPRS and WCDMA phones to include EDGE", which is interesting, and the launch of the new Enterprise Solutions group, intended to bring "true mobility to the enterprise space", signals the beginnings of a mobile services for business push. Two new products here are the 6810 and 6820 "messaging devices", the 6820 being the one with the fold-out qwerty keyboard.

So what have we got here? As we said at the outset, the tip of an iceberg, but a very interesting tip, nevertheless. The 7700 is at the moment the most interesting/intriguing, because although it's pretty clear Nokia is pitching it at consumer, the larger screen means it seems to have some pretty interesting potential applications, depending on how easily you could expand it. Bluetooth keyboard, perhaps? It'll do FM radio, and with the Nokia Streamer SU-6 attachment it can handle DVB-H network video broadcast video, but how easy, or how hard, will it be to attach other stuff?

Note, however, that spec-wise it really does look like something beginning to occupy that vacant Psion space we speculated to Nokia about just last week. It's consumer, which we think likely to reduce Nokia's readiness to view it as something you could build solutions on top of, but it's a clue to forthcoming devices, the same but different and relating in some way to that 80-90 'alignment'. An obvious thing missing right now, we think, is built-in 802.11 - but the game's afoot... ®

Pictures

1 It's not a phone, it's a media device
2 The 6820, no compromise messaging, apart from the screen in the middle of the keyboard.
3 Non-challenging 6810 business messaging device
4 The 6230, a fairly straight mainstream business play
5 The fashion-inspired 7200, (it says here), "artistically blends modern mobile technology with contemporary design trends, highlighted by an ensemble of folding, ornamental textile covers." Do we need to tell you we couldn't make it up? Thought not.

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