Nokia’s ‘Tube’ is getting ready to do battle with the next iPhone.
Pics and details are starting to emerge on Nokia’s unofficial answer to Apple’s iPhone. At this point nothing concrete has come out of Espoo, Finland regarding release dates, specs and devices that will use this ‘Tube’ UI. Nevertheless, images of the supposed first device to have the ‘Tube’ UI have cropped up on various blogs like Engadget, Gizmodo and Symbian Guru. Seems like the first device is set to drop in Q1 2009. But will it be too little – too late to the party?
One of the obstacles I can see is that by Q1 2009, Apple’s iPhone v.2 will have been out a few months (maybe 6?). I am sure that the next iteration of iPhone will address all the hardware ‘shortcomings’ of the current model. And, maybe more importantly than the hardware side, the iTunes AppStore will have been running for 6 months. This means that developers for the iPhone will have been getting paid for at least 6 months, which in turn creates an attractive market for potential devs to jump in to. But how does this relate to Symbian? Well, for a start, it is entirely possible that current apps that are available for S60v.3-1-2 would have to be recompiled or rewritten to take full advantage of a new touch-based UI from Symbian. And this could possibly create a kind of jaded apathy from Symbian devs, who have already had to go through a few different transitions (from v.2 to v.3 and maybe more?). Couple that with the abysmal Symbian-Signed developer program, and then add the fact that there is no true central repository for purchasing Symbian apps from, and you may have a mutiny on your hands.
Of course, in the short-term this will not really impact Nokia or Symbian, as they already have a gigantic userbase, with a very large developer community. But long-term I can see that *if* Symbian’s Tube UI doesn’t get a groundswell of attention and start to eat potential iPhone customers, then this would signify a failure of judgement from Symbian, regarding their own future plans, and so the downward spiral could begin. Of course I could also be entirely wrong, and that Nokia releases a true ‘iPhone Killer’ next year, but somehow I think it could again be too little-too late.