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  #1  
Old 09-11-2009, 08:24 PM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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What will Nokia learn from the Failure of N-Gage?

Two weeks after Nokia announced that their N-Gage system was to be closed and the titles merged into Ovi Store, N-Gage old-hand Ewan delivers his verdict, looking at what Nokia did wrong, from support to marketing to community. More worryingly, Ewan also worries that similar errors might be being made with Nokia's other Software and Services.

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 09-11-2009, 09:20 PM
raf1hh raf1hh is offline
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Good article

From my perspective the monumental failure on Nokia's part is not to enable developers with rapid development tools that would allow us to churn out many applications without investing 50,000 of dollars into development. This not only applies to n-gage but also to Symbian in general.

Contrast that with iPhone and Android: Simple java and Objective C development environments. Good RAD tools, quick development. You can get a prototype app done in a VERY short time. To prove my point: walk into any bookstore (in the US) and you will find 10-15 books on how to develop for the iPhone and a few on Android development. Symbian or Nokia? A big zero.

It's not like they have not tried, but whatever Nokia has in place right now (Python and WRT) is just for show and there is no commitment to the plaforms to make them 1st class citizens.

Take python for example: they have 3-5 core devs on the product, they are developing it in a silo and totally shun any community involvement. Road map is non-existent, critical bugs wait MONTHS to be addressed (if at all), it's more of a science experiment than an enabling technology.

NOKIA, THIS IS NOT A WAY TO ENTICE DEVS TO PROGRAM FOR YOUR PLATFORM!

To end my rant, I will say this: every platform lives and dies with it's developers and obviously n-gage has already been abandoned. Now the question is: how much time has Symbian left at the current pace?

  #3  
Old 09-11-2009, 09:49 PM
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Symbian development is C++; the Python is just for tinkerers and WRT has its place but you won't be doing any game programming with WRT. The books are published by Wiley and also by Addison-Wesley, and I am looking at 2 shelves of them now. Just like Android you just download an IDE and SDK which comes with the emulator and tools. (although I wish we could lose the poxy ActivePerl).

The programming is reasonably easy (it's not the usual mainstream stuff that you would see if you were doing PC desktop stuff). But anyone who knows how to code will not have any trouble. Symbian development uses tricks designed to make the most of minimal hardware, which arguably is unnecessary in 2009. In my opinion efficiency is not a bad thing, but in this case makes things a bit different and adds a learning curve.

The difficulty comes in getting the applications out to market and the hoops that need to be jumped through and money hurled through. However, $50,000 is a totally OTT exaggeration.

  #4  
Old 09-11-2009, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by raf1hh View Post

It's not like they have not tried, but whatever Nokia has in place right now (Python and WRT) is just for show and there is no commitment to the plaforms to make them 1st class citizens.
This statement seems to suggest that you don't really know anything about Symbian development:

http://developer.symbian.com/main/index.jsp
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  #5  
Old 09-11-2009, 10:34 PM
RollerSMB RollerSMB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raf1hh View Post
From my perspective the monumental failure on Nokia's part is not to enable developers with rapid development tools that would allow us to churn out many applications without investing 50,000 of dollars into development. This not only applies to n-gage but also to Symbian in general.

Contrast that with iPhone and Android: Simple java and Objective C development environments. Good RAD tools, quick development. You can get a prototype app done in a VERY short time. To prove my point: walk into any bookstore (in the US) and you will find 10-15 books on how to develop for the iPhone and a few on Android development. Symbian or Nokia? A big zero.

It's not like they have not tried, but whatever Nokia has in place right now (Python and WRT) is just for show and there is no commitment to the plaforms to make them 1st class citizens.

...
Um.. QT, Java pretty much address your concerns. Python and WRT are scripting technologies..

Last edited by RollerSMB; 09-11-2009 at 11:03 PM.

  #6  
Old 09-11-2009, 11:11 PM
raf1hh raf1hh is offline
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Like always, any criticism Symbian development env. escalates into an insult contest

So on how many handsets is QT runtime shipped on? Let me help you with that: 0. QT can at best be called an alpha release. Can java call C++ libraries? NO! Even python can talk to C++ libraries. Can java talk to the camera AND utilize all the features (like Macro focus ) and so on? No. Can java utilize native UI widgets (like on Android)? No.

As for Symbian C++, if it is so easy and cheap to develop in Symbian C++ as it is in Java, Python or Objective C lets see some new applications written by newcomers to the platform?

And btw, 50K is not that much for a professional development team. By the time a team learns the hard way some of the intricacies avkon, descriptors, new and old style constructors and all the other legacy stuff a company will be easily out of 50K.

In addition, Carbide 2.0 and especially the emulator are in dire need of improvement and as it stands right now make it even more painful to do C++ development.

  #7  
Old 10-11-2009, 12:28 AM
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Nokia went down the wrong road with no hardware 3D acceleration.

You know what game I'm most impressed is Quake 1 and 2 port with 3D hardware acceleration on the N95 which they abandoned on most handsets. If they had killer titles like these it would sell itself. Most of nGage produced crappy blocky graphics from the eighties and nineties. No offense but ping pong and pacman style games is not going to make you big.

When I look at TV and see the iPhone demonstrating their 3D games I go wow, very nice and seems very enticing and easy to get into. When I play PSP or DS again there is such a massive difference from nGage. Why would I waste money on nGage?

This casual gaming argument I heard from the past is nonsense.

If you want to compete in this arena you not only have to match your competiters but out do them especially Nokia being relatively naive and new to this industry.

Technology has evolved, you have to wow your average Joe and Jane if you want their money. I'm not trying to say it's down to just graphics but in this day and age blocky crap won't get you no where. Those games are expected free... e.g. Emulators on your PC but their gameplay and graphics is still far superior to anything on nGage.

  #8  
Old 10-11-2009, 12:32 AM
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Thumbs down This is Nokia...

This is Nokia, of course they did not learn their lesson...

  #9  
Old 10-11-2009, 12:58 AM
bchliu bchliu is offline
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I'm sorry.. I have to make a personal statement that some (die hards) may disagree -

JAVA IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL (at least on the Symbian platform)

I am never going to pay up to $20 for a crap 2D game that was badly put together (ie. 95% of all J2ME stuff out there). The sad thing is, I bought my N97 since it was launched and until now has nothing in the native binary catalog other than some (very good) ports of emulators.

The worst Culprit in this is... GAMELOFT. Its sick and pathetic seeing how good the iphone versions of their games are and having to put up with 2D equivalents on a brand new phone like the N97/i8910.

  #10  
Old 10-11-2009, 01:34 AM
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Whats went wrong with ngage? Its much easier to say others have which basically is what ngage don't have.

Iphone's platform have much higher minimum and guaranteed specs. All units + itouchs have gigs of storage, lots more free ram, 3d chip, same res screen and equal form factor in every unit.

Itunes lets them sync users to enable everybody on the newest os and even force apps to make sure it runs on the newest and greatest. Everybody knows there's an app store with lots of games.

Developers, theres so many many many and the sdk is mostly the same as mac sdk. Its not like one has to go out and learn something and archaic and different as symbian.

  #11  
Old 10-11-2009, 01:36 AM
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Isn't it a lot cheaper and easier to publish the app store than the ovi?

  #12  
Old 10-11-2009, 02:49 AM
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What lesson?!

Nokia doesn't believe in lessons; only business. They have NEVER learned fully about the US market. They have NEVER learned about good hardware in flagship phones (Nokia N95). They have NEVER learned that form factors vary (think Nokia missed flip, then slide, then touch although they had somewhat ventured in the past; Nokia 7710).

Bottom line is Nokia has too many chiefs and not enough indians. If the future of Nokia will be services, they better listen to their customers and implement a "clean" strategy that reflects this. Ahhhhh Nokia....please don't make me buy an iPhone due to stability and support; least I can take my US Nokia N97 to be serviced for poor GPS and scratched lens. Oh wait...I can't. I envy the Apple Store!!

  #13  
Old 10-11-2009, 05:45 AM
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I'm not sure if I can agree with the article completely

It's true that Nokia seems to be wobbling all over the place with a gazillion dissimilar devices, but that argument doesn't really hold for the service area. Shutting down N-Gage to focus on Ovi seems to be the best move they made this year. And mentioning Comes with Music is rather unfair, as most it's probably really hard to strike a deal with publishers, especially on digital distribution. If I remember correctly, it took Apple years to get the necessary contracts to distribute hit music. In the meantime, I remember iTunes being nothing more than an MP3 organizer for me until iTunes store appeared in 2003. I think that's about 2.5 years later. And they basically had first movers advantage, as no one else was positioned like Apple to have an incentive to make the bold move of trying to strike a deal with publishers. And now Comes with Music is under pressure to deliver the iTunes experience with less. Being so strongly positioned now, it probably looks less likely that a publisher wants to stir the ire of Apple unless they have full confidence that partnering with Nokia guarantees returns.

Even though Ovi sucks right now, at least now there's one less sucky service in their portfolio, and now they can shift focus onto improving Ovi going forward, and at least try to forge relationships thru a single brand, and instead of having their various dept heads feuding with each other like other typical major corps that grew too large. What they have to do now, since Nokia is still a hardware company, is to go back to dedicating a HW spec specifically for gaming, and have the devs focus on that, then have maybe 1-2 devices specifically for that platform, to attract devs back. It's nice that the N900 will support OpenGL ES 2.0, but the button profile looks unfriendly for gaming (at least I never managed to really get into gaming with these qwerty devices). And please, Java is not terrible. Opera Mini proved that reasonable graphics performance can be achieved, Java CAN access native libraries (although you really wouldn't want to), and the VM can be written to take advantage of available HW. Which brings back to what is really needed to be done at the moment - make a platform where Devs can take advantage of the HW, not force devs to assume that the customer may potentially NOT even have the HW to take advantage of on their phone.

  #14  
Old 10-11-2009, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by raf1hh View Post
So on how many handsets is QT runtime shipped on? Let me help you with that: 0. QT can at best be called an alpha release. Can java call C++ libraries? NO! Even python can talk to C++ libraries. Can java talk to the camera AND utilize all the features (like Macro focus ) and so on? No. Can java utilize native UI widgets (like on Android)? No.

As for Symbian C++, if it is so easy and cheap to develop in Symbian C++ as it is in Java, Python or Objective C lets see some new applications written by newcomers to the platform?

And btw, 50K is not that much for a professional development team. By the time a team learns the hard way some of the intricacies avkon, descriptors, new and old style constructors and all the other legacy stuff a company will be easily out of 50K.

In addition, Carbide 2.0 and especially the emulator are in dire need of improvement and as it stands right now make it even more painful to do C++ development.
Nobody is seriously going to do anything in Java. You don't need a development team. Most smartphones can be developed on by bedroom programmers (OK apps like QuickOffice need real projects, but LonelyCat apps are by a one man team). Carbide 2.0 is OK, simple enough to use unless you are totally inept. Have you tried the Android emulator? 2-3 minutes to get started.

QT replaces Avkon, most of us are working with QT now in antcipation.

  #15  
Old 10-11-2009, 02:48 PM
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I'm not sure I agree that people buy iPod Touches/iPhones BECAUSE of iTunes/AppStore, I suspect it's more for other reasons; form-factor, hype, sexiness, take your pick. But I do agree that the AppStore makes owning an iPT/iPhone (I have an iPod Touch) a pleasurable experience, something which the Ovi store fails to achieve. The fragmented availability of the Ovi store, the general user-unfriendliness, poor device support and the lack of redownloads are all examples of what a poor experience the Ovi Store is.

The problem that Nokia have with all this is that many people will buy one Nokia handset (which probably doesn't work properly), try OVI Store once (and find it a load of rubbish), and then move to an iPhone and never look back. While you may some high-end users moving away from the iPhone, as they want a device which allows a bit more freedom, has "proper" multi-tasking etc., this represents a small part of the market. I personally am very happy with my 2-year-old E90, but my friends and colleagues who have iPhones are also very happy with their choices, and their overall owner-experience is clearly higher than what you currently get from buying a Nokia...
 

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