It’s been a day of big press conferences today as some of the big players laid out their big announcements in the hope of dominating the news:
Nokia have launched the E55 and E75 business handsets – Like so much of their recent announcements the hardware of these devices really impresses. I challenge anyone not to be impressed with the build quality and attention to detail… The E75 is as widely leaked. The E55 is a pleasant surprise – even thinner than it’s older sibling the E51, it packs a huge battery and an almost Blackberry Pearl-like keyboard that’s 5 keys wide (each one serving as 2 characters across a QWERTY keyboard) with the central 3 laid out in a traditional 1 to 9 block. In the hand it feels exceptional. Software is improved – Nokia have finally included the improved mail client out of the box – but compared to the exceptional hardware build it’s still to easy to get buried in menu systems or the complexity of the S60 OS.
Nokia and Microsoft have launched the Ovi Store and Windows Marketplace respectively – To complete the set (Android announced paid-for apps yesterday), today the last two major platforms added their official ‘market places’. The Windows Marketplace was announced without fanfare… a box-ticking exercise amidst higher-profile news (Windows Mobile 6.5 and MyPhone). The Ovi store came with more details – notably operator billing, the inclusion of ‘content’ (games and media) and a social recommendations engine, but questions about user experience and quality assurance of the applications remain. Ultimately this is unglamourous news, but signals (if ever it were needed) that app discovery is going to get great deal easier for consumers very soon. It’s ubiquity, however, will mean it’s not a factor that will attract consumers to any particular platform. The cynics amongst us (and there are a few) wonder if, given the slow speed the idea has been taken up whether it will be another 2 to 3 years before we see them well executed.
Android news is really thin on the ground and Microsoft are everywhere - There are rumours of an HTC G2 Android device being announced later during the show and Huawei have a non-working prototype of their forthcoming handset, but otherwise we’re set to wait until later in the year for LG and Samsung’s Android offerings. Conversely, many are noting that both have instead made significant announcements of handsets running Windows Mobile 6.5 with Toshiba and Asus also in on the act. With Steve Ballmer fronting the Microsoft press event it was slick, if not a bit cringe-worthy at times (they’re not employing the cream of comedy script writing), but it’s worth noting that we’ve seen absolutely no presence from Google here at all representing Android. At all. And with this many developers attending that seems really odd.
Day 2 looks promising with another widely-leaked Nokia announcement due and some opportunities to meet a few less high-profile companies.