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« Notes from the Smartphone Wars - Panasonic, Blackberry, Jolla, Xiaomi, Tizen | Main | Survey of Global Market Today for Mobile Wallets and Mobile Money - In aftermath of Apple Pay launch »

September 25, 2014

Comments

Timo M.

"Landau top of smartphones." I'll have to let that sink in for a while. Not so very obvious analogy :-)

Many reviews repeat the words "weird", "strange" etc. (or the occasional "Landau top") to describe this phone. This really tells a lot about how utterly conservative smartphone design rapidly became after the launch of iPhone. You cannot tell one brick from another. You have not been able to for quite many years.

This is the coolest looking smartphone in a long time. Too bad it won't sell. And that E7 looks like it is from the future. I am afraid there will not be courage to break the brick format any time soon.

Matches

If you think this phone is targeted at people who are watching videos on YouTube and browsing pictures on Facebook you are... Well you're the author of this site.

You keep talking about the full-touch/slider QWERTY combo. You insist that there is some market out there for them that will snatch them up for $800 a pop. So where are the phones? Well, they're out there -- Motorola and LG both had a couple models with this form factor. (https://www.androidauthority.com/best-qwerty-android-smartphones-335748/) How did that work out for them? Where's the $800 price tag? Did Moto not fall out of the top 10 in market share this year? How could that be possible, they had a QWERTY slider! Okay so Moto was dying before that. What of the beloved Sammy? Winner of the manufacturer bloodbath with its 25-30% market share? Where is its $800 QWERTY flagship?

I am actually with you in some respects. I will not troll the board with "NO ONE WANTS A QWERTY SLIDER". There is unquestionably a (probably small) market for this form factor. But if this is an efficient market, (and given its size and the number of manufacturers trying to make money in it, I can't believe that it is not), then why don't we see more of these phones out there?

ZanGOlie

Once BlackBerry does not go overboard and produce a whole bunch of these they can't sell, not being a huge hit is not a big problem.

What is really important is that the phone is different. So different, that people will want to ask someone with one, what kind of phone is that! Building awareness is the first step of slowly building back a brand.

Your either going to like this phone or hate it, and that actually is a good thing. It will get people talking.

adi purbakala

@matches

You example qwerty slider is low end
Tomi beg for high end qwerty slider

adi purbakala

@zango

Bb big market now... South africa, indonesia, philipines, india is low end market. Bb is fail in high end market.

I do not know if high end still want bb. I think this will sell but not a lot. People will talk but talk only no buy.

Matches

I posted a link of the best QWERTY smartphones for Android. One man's opinion, but still. What I am asking is why aren't manufacturers responding for this alleged demand on the high end? Two manufacturers make virtually all the profit in the smartphone market. They are not in this space. (Samsung was, but not anymore? Or do they still have some models?) So every other manufactuer, whose smartphone units are barely breaking even or are bleeding cash, are willfully ignoring this segment that our esteemed "best forecaster in mobile" says is ripe for the plucking.

My question to this so-called mobile expert and to you commentors on this post, is, "Why?"

Michael Demetriou

@matches

I know why they don't make them anymore. I heard it from people that work in handset manufacturers. They trust the numbers. They do just as you did. See the rivals, see they are not selling and decide it's suicide. But it's not the whole picture. They don't sell because the
current QWERTY offerings are uncompelling, and given that those who prefer QWERTY are mostly power users they won't make do with a mediocre phone. They don't sell because there's nothing on the market to convince even diehard hwkb fans like me to buy it. So that metric (nobody buys) is wrong. I don't know how wrong but at least off by one: me. Old Nokias like the 9000, E90, E7 and N900 sold well because they had everything, and a keyboard on top. I'm ready to bet such devices would sell well today too. Not Galaxy S well, but well nevertheless.

I'd go one step further and suggest a detachable keyboard like the ASUS transformer line. Not BT though, real wired kb with backlight and proper software integration. BT keyboards have to be paired, don't usually hide the virtual one when present and require charging.

Tomi T Ahonen

Matches

The 'Communicator' form factor was a certain guaranteed hit for Nokia every time they released a new model. It sold in many millions per production run. For a targeted enterprise-oriented flagship phone that usually cost over 1,000 dollars (vs current iPhone 6 Plus price 750 dollars) that was very good money for Nokia every time.

Stephen Elop came over to Nokia to be new CEO. His underlings begged for the next flagship QWERTY. Nokia had designed several including the N950 that Elop refused to let sell. The Nokia consumer surveys showed that there was huge demand for physical QWERTY keyboards but Elop overruled his experts and decreed no keyboards in the new Lumia series (even though 40% of the returning loyal Nokia smartphone owners had one in the previous Nokia model). Elop has been quoted many times in the press that his underlings keep asking for at least one QWERTY model and Elop would overrule them. I cannot prove to you how big the market was for Nokia in 2011 or 2012 but it was in many millions per quarter.

Now we saw EVERYTHING Elop did in his misguided iPhone-envy was wrong and he recanted and Nokia did better with models once it got past the Elop lunacy. Original Lumia models had screen sizes and cameras that regressed from Nokia past flagships and more like iPhones. They sold poorly. Nokia then upgraded cameras and screens and Lumia sold better. Early Lumias had no removable batteries like iPhones. Later Elop changed that because obviously in Emerging World markets where the majority of the phone market is, electricity is not reliable but again, US-focused iPhone-clone design didn't care for this. The first Lumias didn't have 'selfie' cameras ie the second inward-facing cameras that Nokia smartphones had had for years. That was fixed again in later models. All that Elop decided - in pursuit of creating the ultimate iPhone clone - was abandoning a Nokia advantage and after that damaged Nokia sales - those silly ideas were abandoned. Same is true of NFC. Nokia had NFC (like Apple now with Apple Money). Elop didn't have NFC on the first Lumias (because iPhones didn't have NFC then) even though past Nokia flagships had had NFC. Again, Nokia did bring NFC to later Lumias after this mistake by Elop.

The one part he hasn't yet fixed of his long litany of mistakes was the physical QWERTY keyboard variant of the flagship. This was a Nokia tradition but Elop ended that. So Nokia kind of 'owned' this space and when Elop the new CEO ended the QWERTY legacy, the other manufacturers of course thought that brilliant new Nokia CEO knew something they didn't know and nobody pursued this opportunity. I have been yelling and screaming here on this blog to try to get the attention. As adi wrote in the replies to you already, many low-cost QWERTY models exist that target youth messaging users. That is not what I mean. I mean a proper flagship CEO level super-expensive superphone. Like the Nokia Communicators were or what for example the Blackberry Bold once represented.

How big is that market? Nobody can accurately tell. But like Michael said, I too would stand in line to get that phone from whichever manufacturer, if they did a flagship level smartphone (top camera, big screen, NFC, all the bells and whistles) and yes, make it 5 mm thicker but give us the hidden full WIDE keyboard in QWERTY layout. My old trusty E7 is still in my second pocket simply because for any messaging or text entry or Twitter etc, that physical keyboard is far better than any touch screen on any other phone. But the E7 is now 3 years old and showing its age and soon it will break down just from mechanical use. But since Elop ended the Nokia E-Series flagships with QWERTY nobody else has given us one either. Even Blackberry went to the iPhone-clone full touch screen. And yes, Samsung still sells QWERTY versions of Galaxy but at the low end of the Galaxy range (in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia etc where the population is mad for QWERTY physical keyboards and are among the world's heaviest users of Facebook and various social media).

Imagine if Apple released an iPhone 6T the same iPhone 6 model with all the specs of the base iPhone 6 but make it 5mm thicker and hide the slider physical keyboard under the screen. It would be celebrated as the ultimate iPhone, the miracle phone with both a keyboard and touch screen. It could be priced at 800 dollars and it would sell out. But the profit Apple could make on that model is FAR greater than the added cost of the hardware. That phone would kill Blackberry overnight. That iPhone 6T would be Apple's leap into the enterprise market. And then everybody would rush to do these Facebook phones and Twitter phones and Whatsapp phones that you can type on blindly and type faster than anything ever seen (forgetting that this all was true of the E7 and past Nokia Communicators).

Just because currently nobody is doing it, doesn't mean there isn't a market. But far more tellingly, any major tech website, when they speculate on a new flagship QWERTY phone, there is instant love for that concept, whether its a new iPhone with a phsycial QWERTY or a Lumia with QWERTY or any other provider. The key is, it has to be a flagship ie camera in the 20mp range, about 5 inch touch screen today, NFC, 4G, etc.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

AndThisWillBeToo

"That phone would kill Blackberry overnight."

So Apple would gain what? 0.3% more market share?
Tomi, this is year 2014. BlackBerry is dead. Even in enterprise they are estimated at 0%.

Tomi T Ahonen

And

Haha, yeah, tru dat. Apple would not gain even one point of market share if they killed off Blackberry and stole all their customers... but the QWERTY iPhone would sell far more than that haha... still good point.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

AppleTurfer

The whole point of the square format, despite other justifications put forth by BB, is it removes landscape from being an issue. With a square screen, it doesn't matter that the physical keyboard is always on the bottom. There is no reason for the bottom to ever be anything but the bottom.

Same with a slider. Great for landscape, terrible when held in portrait mode.

Kudo's to BB for their own legitimate, non-iphone rip off, design. And a pretty good "case in point" on why Samsung prefers to copy the successful designs of others.

It'll flop, but nothing BB can do to change that outcome except adopt Android. Ecosystems rule, and BB has no chance reviving it's ecosystem. Running Android apps poorly on BB10 is not sufficient either.

If they want to make phones, then they need to port their enterprise class email, messaging etc. to Android and throw in a nice set of enhanced, enterprise class security while they are at it.

That BB would sell, keyboard or not.

Ben

I for one ordered a passport yesterday before they sold out on amazon. Fingers crossed, it should be here tomorrow. Shopblackberry has also sold out. Who knows how many were available in the first place but I doubt blackberry is artificially constraining the market.

Coming from an N9, to a Z10, I think the phone looks good, and it's the first phone to have genuinely gotten me excited since the N9. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see a high end QWERTY slider, but this is the next best thing and it's available today. Speaking of ELOP, this was also on his hit list and would be considered a killer design even today: https://mynokiablog.com/2012/09/04/leaked-prototype-nokia-lauta-rm-742-cancelled-immediate-n9-successor/

Back to the Passport... it is a phone that's generating buzz. It does look premium, if not odd. BB10 is a great OS. Yes Tomi, the Passport might not do youtube as well as a 16:9 screen. But it will sure as hell serve me much better for emails, texting, my calendar, and web browsing. All of which adds up to about 98% of my usage. I hear a benefit of using it in 'landscape mode' with the keyboard on the side is you can still scroll down using the capacitive keyboard and this way not have your fingers in the way or uncomfortably down at the bottom.

Time will tell but I think this phone has the potential to be a modest success and I honestly do not think Blackberry could have done any better. Sliders are inherently much more complex and Nokia had a lot of experience (as well as patents I'm sure) in this area.

R

The Register's review calls the Passport a type of Marmite. Either you love it or you hate it. Both are valid opinions.

The huge square screen is all about communications. I'm constantly rotating my conventional smartphone, because in portrait mode I can see very little per line and some content doesn't layout properly, and in landscape mode I have to do a lot more scrolling and can't see anything while typing. So, I can see having a wide and tall screen, and an actual physical keyboard.

I'm not sure why Blackberry doesn't do the slider, though.

AtTheBottomOfTheHilton

I really like the Nokia E7 and it was surely before its time when it comes to supported features. If there would be a new similar one like it I would definitely be interested as the landscape type of keyboard would give the best of two worlds. However, there will always be screen size difference between a desktop and you phone. Let's say you have a nice phone with a 1920x1080 screen but your computer has a 2560x1440 screen, then you have difference anyway that is not optimal. Same aspect ratio is not enough as I see it.

The solution is not cloning the phone screen but having a dual screen setup with two different resolution. Ubuntu seems to be the only one realizing this and supports the normal desktop as well as the phone UI in the same OS. This is the way to go I think.

adi purbakala

https://harry-joe.deviantart.com/art/Concept-Nexus-P3-434135406

This nexus concept. I buy it for $1000 if real

Spawn

@Tomi T Ahonen

> Nokia had designed several including the N950 that Elop refused to let sell.
> https://mynokiablog.com/2012/09/04/leaked-prototype-nokia-lauta-rm-742-cancelled-immediate-n9-successor/

That mid-end N9 successor with slider, where the N950 was the highend communicator, would have been hit like a bomb. A god-phone.

All including Nokia gone and destroyed because 'somehow' the condition that frecking Nokia gives Elop a personal bonus of $30 million made it into his contract. A shame that Nokia legal was prevented from checking the CEO-contract, a shame that condition was keeped secret so even the Nokka BOD didn't kniw about it. Whos responsible, who made that condition happen and hide it later for so long?

Spawn

@AtTheBottomOfTheHilton

> The solution is not cloning the phone screen but having a dual screen setup with two different resolution

https://lwn.net/Articles/611969/

[quote]
It turns out that for the living room, "mode switching is bad". A TV can go black for five or ten seconds if you switch modes. That is only getting worse with modern video links, Packard said. Also, the monitor may not support the mode that the game wants, especially if it wants a large mode. To combat that problem, SteamOS never changes the video mode, it simply scales the game to fit the size of the output display.
[/quote]

That is actually not a bad idea when modeswitching needs to be prevented because of technical limitations in both, the software and output device.

AppleTurfer

Just like I have external battery backups for my iPhone. And before we had turn by turn for free via Apple Maps/Google Maps, I had it for a reasonable price via any of 3 choices.

Just like I could buy a case for my iPhone 4 and fix the problem, and same with the bending issue. I always buy cases anyway cuz large slabs of glass WILL break when you drop your expensive pocket sized computer.

Just like you could jailbreak your phone if you REALLY objected to the walled garden.

And so on.

Ben

@Baron95
Accessories are not the same as having a phone designed around a keyboard. The nature of it being an accessory means that it has unnecessary bulk and doesn't 100% fit into the design language. If Apple designed and sold the keyboard, even as an accessory, I bet they would sell in far greater numbers.

@AppleTurfer
Some people don't like cases. I for one think Apple fans are retarded for going on and on about how beautiful their phones are and then slapping a case on it that doubles the bulk. What's the point of having a nice design to a phone if you're going to cover it up?

People could do a lot of things if they're motivated but that also goes against "it just works." It also raises the bar to make things usable. I'd rather have something that fits my needs out of the box rather than having to search for accessories (or apps) and spending hours making it so I can get full use out of a device I just paid for.

Not all smartphones are as delicate as iPhones. I dropped my N9 12 feet down onto concrete and while the corner got a little indentation, the screen survived. Needless to say there was no problem putting that phone in any of my pockets and keeping it in one shape.

Spawn

@Ben

> Accessories are not the same as having a phone designed around a keyboard.

Exactly. Compare with the Blackberry Passport which was actually designed around the keyboard. The operating-software was adjusted for that 4th virtual row, for shortcut-gestures/-touch on the keyboard, for autocorrection/spellcheck/autocompletion, for robustness, etc. etc.

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