I haven’t held a Nokia N810 Internet Tablet in my hands, but it seems to me it represents some very astute decisions on the part of the Nokia team.
The 770 and N800 tablets have the largest, highest-resolution screens of any device in the pocket-carryaround category. That comes from an awareness of the high frustration that accompanies surfing the web on a too-narrow screen.
From day one, we’ve been asking how can Nokia take advantage of their units’ display advantage?
Well, having used a Nokia-loaner GPS unit for several months, I can testify that one thing that benefits greatly from a larger, higher-resolution screen is looking at a map, especially traveling at 65 mph when you can’t spend more than a moment or two glancing at it.
So building in GPS has a surface logic anyone can appreciate. But that’s not what I think is astute.
And adding a keyboard definitely makes it easier for many potential purchasers to accept the device. (As it happens, I don’t have the same urgent desire for finger-typing that impelled my purchase of a Bluetooth keyboard for my 770 in my first months of ownership. But that’s another matter.)
I should add that the cam-calling capability added last January, also has an innocuous plausibility — Won’t you have fun! — that in my opinion masks the truly revolutionary side of the Internet Tablets Nokia is building.
Imagine the GPS not as a replacement for a car unit, but when on foot as a tourist in a city with a wifi cloud (San Francisco, here we come!).
The device knows just where you are so loads of location-specific information can be delivered to you — historical and tourist info sure, and restaurant- and specific-need info (looking for parking? looking for the closest optometrist to repair your glasses?). We’ve heard about that from the wireless phone companies, looking to extort a comfort tax from the comfortably rich.
But that’s reference material and although bookstores do a big business in such content, so do libraries. People don’t expect to need to pay through the nose for it. So getting it for free from the internet, getting the advertisers compete to pay to get the info to you (the Google model) rather than charging the looker-upper for access, yes, that’s great. Probably be good for Nokia’s purchase of webmap-maker Navteq.
But what if … the airlines, car rentals and hotel-chain partners of your frequent-flyer program gave you your Nokia tablet with the simple proviso that any time you leave your home region, some GPS data would be posted to them. But not to bombard you with ads (we know that’s the kiss of death for voluntary signup).
No, just so that they could map your actual travels with your use of their services. “Hm-m. Four trips to Chicago, but only flew with us once, only rented our cars twice. Oh, early-morning flights that don’t match up with our departures. Maybe we should look at moving that 7:15 flight to 6:30.” Or: “Maybe we should send a specific offering customized to this user — ‘20 percent off of flights to Chicago.’ We already know he’s going there, we already know he prefers us. Why not get all of his business?”
The GPS model we’ve all seen touted is based on 20th-century marketing — putting your name in front of customers increases sales. (Actually that may be 19th-century marketing.) Yes, there’s a small electronic-era twist — just put your name in front of likely customers — but the truly 21st-century marketer has campaigns designed solely for one customer*. (Think of email you’ve gotten from Amazon that notes “since you purchased book A and looked at book B, we think you might be interested in knowing about book C.”)
In that light, the internet side of the NIT lowers the cost to participate in locational marketing for both company and customer. And the fabulous screen means delivery of much richer content at much lower prices for the advertiser.
Which makes the N810′s Mozilla-based browser and Flash 9 upgrades even more astute.
Hm-m. When my brother-in-law took his family to Rome, they had a guide whom they adored so much they wanted to bring her home. She knew everything, and not just about Rome. What if next year they were to visit, oh, let’s say Florence, and they had a 3-hour web-call with their favorite Italian guide. Who told them to turn the NIT’s webcam around so she could see what they were seeing and tell them about the Duomo and Uffizi and Medici Palace from her office in Rome. Where the call was captured on the travel-service’s computer and edited down to a one-hour video and sent to Atlanta by the time they had returned home. And after touring Florence, the guide connected to her next appointment, showing Paris to some local travelers who wanted the tour in Italian.
We’ve seen outsourcing that has help desk staffers in one city answering questions from users who work for more than one company, in a multiplicity of locations. A walkaround-web device like the Nokia Internet Tablet, with voice, visual, and computer information (watch this Flash presentation, here’s the webpage, attach the photo of the accident to this email), really does liberate the computer from the desktop (as Ari Jaaksi proclaimed in his blog two years ago).
GPS provides the truly revolutionary NIT with something companies can use to monetize the walkaround web. The keyboard lowers the resistance that some potential users have had to the device. The 10GB card allows the “well, I can use it for music, too” rationalization for those who don’t start with the music player at the center of their electronic life.
And the brilliance of the central design features of the NIT are confirmed once again — small enough to fit in the pocket, really light weight, full-size screen, full OS with the full spectrum of applications available.
I’d say Nokia is doing very well in building out this computing suburb. And who could complain about their development schedule? No one projected a second device as early as it appeared, nor this third. Incredible work and just marvelous follow-up on their original insights. I marvel at the deftness of Nokia’s moves in developing the walkaround web. The N810 is way more remarkable than it’s being given credit for. Maybe it’s masked in the guise of evolutionary add-ons, but I think the N810 is every bit as revolutionary as its predecessors.
* The key is how to use the additional information to customize the approach, not in order to be intrusive in additional ways. This especially applies to existing customers.