We’ve been here before. Top-end handset unveiled with much fanfare by Nokia, as it promises to up its game and really take on its rivals at the top of the smartphone tree. Release promised in “coming months”, only for an initial short delay to be followed by an epic one, by which point the phone is outdated and battered from all sides. For the Nokia N8 in 2010, read the Nokia E7 in 2011.
The 4-inch touchscreen treat, with sleek slide-out keyboard and Symbian 3 was rightly heralded as a slick smartphone, well-placed to take on BlackBerrys’ preponderance in the workplace. But that was way back in September 2010 at Nokia World in London, an event at which top exec Niklas Savander said the E7 formed part of the mobile maker’s, “…fightback to smartphone leadership”. T
hat’s the very same fightback that the since departed Anssi Vanjoki talked up in a combative official blog post last July. Having slipped into January after being promised before Christmas, the E7 has now been shoved back to April, with Expansys changing its on sale date and Three saying it won’t have the phone on its network until then. That means it’ll be a full seven months between the phone’s announcement and its release.
In that time, Mobile World Congress will see a slew of new phones, some of them made by Nokia, gazump the E7. And while new CEO Stephen Elop might say that Nokia needs to move faster to keep up with a fast-changing industry, perhaps the first thing he needs to ensure is that when phones made by his new company are announced, they’re on shelves within a matter of weeks, not months.
It’s evident that the E7 wasn’t even close to being ready at Nokia World. And while unveiling it then made short-term sense, it seems Nokia has learned little or nothing from the N8 debacle.
That phone might have sold modest numbers, but it’s not even close in terms of hardware or software to its major Android and Apple rivals. Surely with a release now set for spring, any savvy smartphone buyer will sidestep the E7 and choose something else.
If you want a top end Nokia, why get a Symbian smartie when a MeeGo one will probably be just around the corner? The E7 delay also opens up some serious issues about Symbian and its place alongside MeeGo. Does it still have a place on premium products and how will consumers react to a phone that’s outdated being released at the same time as a futuristic new phone?
If Nokia does intend to fightback, it needs to stamp out delays in its releases before anything else. Its success in the smartphone space depends on it.