Why Nokia’s S60 Touch Demo Sucked

If you’ve not seen it, here’s the video on YouTube of Nokia’s S60 Touch UI, as demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress. Thus far, everyone I’ve read were appalled that it was so poorly demo’d. Personally, I’m more excited about S60 Touch now than I have been in the past. I’ve noticed four major complaints that I want to counter:

1. It was demo’d on a tablet, connected to a PC running an emulator. When you’re wanting to show off the UI of something, but don’t want to give any clues as to the hardware, how *ELSE* would you suggest demoing it?

2. It looks just like S60 does. Duh. It’s called ‘S60 Touch’, not “Entirely New Touch Interface”. As is stated in the video, one reason behind this is so that users can easily swap from a non-touch S60 device to a touch-enabled one and not have a learning curve. With over 6 years of history and millions of S60-based handsets on the market, and both Nokia and Symbian kicking butt, why on *earth* would you want to alienate your existing userbase? There’s just no sense there.

3. It doesn’t look like the iPhone. Again, duh. Nokia doesn’t want their products constantly compared to the iPhone, just the same as Jobs doesn’t want his iPhone constantly compared to the S60 handsets. Why not? Because they’re targeted towards entirely different market segments, with only slight overlap. The only thing that they have in common is that they both ‘do’ more media than most phones, and they’re both priced higher than most consumers want to pay for a phone, at least in the U.S.

4. ‘If this is how far along Nokia is, they’re in trouble.’ Personally, I don’t think Nokia/S60 sees touch as a necessity. Everything that I’ve heard points to Nokia/S60 looking at touch as just another input method, to be offered alongside hardware buttons as a convenience in some situations.

20 replies on “Why Nokia’s S60 Touch Demo Sucked”

Well said. Part of the criticism is fear I suspect from iPhone fanboys who realise the precarious position they’re in with a 1-trick pony. Most of Nokia’s newer and announced Symbian based phones beat iPhone into a cocked hat in all respects other than touch UI. Yes, the touch UI on iPhone is glorious, but it’s not the be all and end all, not the end of the evolutionary line of touch as a UI. Nokia have a VERY cool and innovative tactile feedback system coming up as part of S60 touch apparently. Secondly if I were Nokia, I would definitely not want to give a heads up to Apple and others and reveal the full glory of my touch UI to competitors before they need to know, especially when that’s the main feature for said competitor’s products.

I DO really hope multitouch makes it in there somehow, but otherwise, I think we’ll all be pleasantly suprised…

I’m a big S60 fan, but I’m also on the other side of the fence as far as this issue is concerned. To think how much time and resources Nokia is putting into creating a marginally new version of the S60 OS is borderline insane.

Like it or not (and why wouldn’t you like it?) the iPhone did the smartphone world a service – even if you don’t consider it to be a smartphone. It forced the big boys to start considering how a smartphone UI might catch up to smartphone functionality. I enjoy my S60 devices as much as the next guy, but aren’t you a bit tired of the same old dated UI? I think that it’s just as important for Nokia to address S60’s UI in the next OS update as it is for them to address current performance shortcomings. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to agree.

When I want to have some truly enjoyable and logical interaction with my handset, I carry my iPhone. When I want to have a wide variety of functionality at my fingertips, I carry my N95. Wouldn’t it be great if I had one stone to kill both birds?

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You can’t polish a turd. Nokia is clueless about UI design and sticking touch behaviors on the Win 3.1 look-alike old crap S60 interface will result the same turd as the current one.

“why on *earth* would you want to alienate your existing userbase?” Already doing it, haven’t you read the mobile user experience satisfaction results recently in the news? iPhone 77%, Rim 55%, Nokia 36%

“Because they’re targeted towards entirely different market segments, with only slight overlap.” When the iPhone SDK will be out and IM clients, Office document readers etc. will be released from serious mobile developers the overlap will be much bigger.

“Everything that I’ve heard points to Nokia/S60 looking at touch as just another input method, to be offered alongside hardware buttons as a convenience in some situations” That’s why it’s gonna be a mixed crap, instead of Apple’s clean, polished approach.

At least Nokia has various types of handsets and doesn’t update their hardware every fortnight – Apple’s iProducts depreciate in value the moment they are removed from the box!
And tbh the iPhone is also a brick


A friend of mine proudly told me yesterday that she has a new iPhone. And could I please help her fix her eMail settings, because they got screwed when she synched the iPhone with her computer … 😉

She asked if I had one. No. Why don’t I have one? Because it won’t do half the things I’ve been doing for years with other devices, and I will not be padlocked into the silly, overpriced contract that AT&T insist on – nor will I buy a phone that I have to cripple and might brick when I try to unlock it.

Somehow she still sounds smug that she has one I I don’t … 🙂

I’m very excited by the S60 Touch demo. The idea that Nokia have just cooked this up since the iPhone was announced is laughable – they’ve got years of producing touchscreen devices behind them. Yes, the S60 interface needs to be simplified IMHO, but sticking a touch interface with haptic feedback on top of a rock-solid Symbian OS is going to be a winner. There may be no device to see yet, but on the most recent sales figures, Nokia is firmly in the lead of the global mobile market – they know how to manufacture devices that will sell in the tens of millions.

The iPhone platform will take off when the SDK is released, as there are thousands of Mac developers lined up to create and port apps. But you have to remember that the S60 development community is already large and has great experience in coming up with apps that people want to buy.

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Apple and it’s products have a halo affect stemming from the iPod but when it comes down to numbers Macs being used pales in to insignificances compared with windows computers (sadly?) The same is true and will continue to be true with S60 compared to iPhones. What people don’t mention much is all the cheaper s60 devices filtering through which include things like 3+ megapixle cameras and GPS. Nokia will continue to fumble along incrementally making the UI better and adding much better hardware than Apple while Apple releases maybe one or two revisions of the iPhone a year each catching up hardware wise with last years Nokia.

Everyones tired of the S60 UI, look at the band wagon for the next UI from nokia.

Everyones got their fingers crossed that it will provide some features the Iphone has, however i do not think they will every get a nice looking UI.

Heres all the things i want nokia to include in the next UI:

1: The music player, firstly the shuffle never works it just follows a playlist that is not random.
2: Album art, it is displayed poorly on the phones and the visualiser doesnt strech the album art to fit the screen, resulting in a tiny high res picture.
3: Access To Youtube via internal app (like the Iphone)
4: An easy to use Email app would be nice, with Push email so it works with all email accounts
5: Cover Flow (Which wont happen but i love!)
6: More accurate Battery Life meter (Or a % meter would be nice)
7: Video codec support, offering DivX, Xvid, wmv, Mpeg and MKV.
8: Wi-fi File Sharing
9: Advanced Video Editor with the ablity to re-arrange video clips, add music, effects and transitions just like on a normal Computer (This is a must if they have HD video recording in future phones)

I have many issues with their phones too, but a good UI is what makes half the phone.

Come on nokia, push some money into your programmers to make S60 touch happen (soon!)

I agree with most of what that Sebhelyesfarku guy said. The S60 UI is really dated now and I’m bored as hell of it. I was really hoping that with Touch we’d have seen the end of that god-damned home screen. It could be so useful but they insist on filling most of the space with calendar entries and since it won’t sync with my Google calendar I never use it anyway. Something like an RSS feed would be far better, just an option to be creative with it, maybe something like the iGoogle homepage. That sliding the highlight thing up and down to select contacts really is a step backwards from the iPhone method of browsing up and down. Apple bought out that touch screen gesture company thing then probably spent further millions developing intuitive touch screen design and all Nokia have to do is copy it but they insist on being worse just to be different. Also some little things on the older demo, like when she pulls up the menu on the message screen and the options you’re supposed to hit with your finger are really small even though there’s loads of space being wasted just to view the message in the background which is far less important than being able to choose the proper option easily.

Yeah that interface did look slow as hell but it was only an emulator and since FP2 runs much faster than that I just assume that they have a lot of work to do yet. I hope they hear loud and clear that a lot of people were disappointed with this.

And I wish they’d change that awful colour scheme.

To be fair, SmartMovie is a very high quality avi player that is converted and side-loaded from a PC that works with most of the codecs mentione and DivX player is a freeware application that works with most versions of Symbian.
The problem is that a massive amount of people don’t use mobile internet and so adding an RSS feed wouldn’t be great for them – but i think the option would be nice (plug-ins perhaps?)
Still, I have Apple due to its way of snaring people with its products and considering the amount of freeware available for Symbian i doubt that a few minor, easily ignored UI issues will prevent most from straying. Huh!

This is rather amusing, since all of the commentators before me seem to be right. In one way or another.

I for one would, to some extend, enjoy if the Touch UI would just be about another input method. But the point is going mainstream, and the mainstream (normobs, ‘average Joe’, whatever you would like to call the members of this category) clearly places the iPhone as the aspirational mobile device. And that’s the real issue for Nokia. Yeah, they have a 40% market share, but look closer at the figures and you’ll see that that’s mainly generated by low and very low end phones.

So the point is this: if the S60 Touch will just be S60 with Touch, Ricky, you, me Steve from AAS and maybe hundreds or thousands of others will probably be very happy. But what about the rest of the world? We represent a category that will probably keep buying Nseries devices, with or without touch input.Yes, because that’s not what we buy them for. But let’s not underestimate the sales power of ‘eye-candy’, be it handset design (see Samsung and LG’s recent sales figures with slim&stupid phones) or UI design (iPhone). And about the iPhone. I absolutely would not buy one, but think about how many they’ve sold in only 4 markets. 4 markets. I’m pretty sure that no matter what the country, this is the ‘wow’ device when it hits.

And here is why I think Nokia, more than anything, has a marketing problem. Ricky, I know you know what I’m talking about, I know your opinion (and Stefan’s, and many others’) on this. That’s the real issue. The N96, for example, will, in my opinion, outsell the iPhone globally, but market-by-market, it’s rather doubtful. And a real pity.

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S60 demo with touch…so it’s basically a symbian with just another input method… but nothing iPhone…wait a second…you mean it’s like the “other” symbian with touch, the UIQ 3?! Good job Nokia! Who needs an iPhone when we can get touch S60 and UIQ3! Talk about variety!

I was first shocked to see the demo on a tablet .. When did nokia start making TVs ???

Nokia has a lot to learn from the iPhone which just rocks in terms of the touch UI .. Nokia and Touchscreen is not something new .. They have had a few unsuccessful touch devices

I’ve just got a bad feelin that Apple are gonna release an ‘iPhone Shuffle’ or something low-end and,from there, play f*ckin Monopoly with the smartphone market. Saying that, at least we haven’t seen the likes of ‘IExP Mobile 1.0’ yet lol

S60 touch will be released in 2009! Is that a breakthough?? SonyEricsson has done it many many years ago…

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