April 12th 2011 was not the first time HTC and Nokia have held events on the same day. During last September’s Nokia World, HTC gazumped the Finnish mobile-maker by holding a London bash to showcase its Desire HD and Desire Z smartphones.
Nokia was left touting the ace E7, but was then in the midst of still claiming that Symbian could do the business. And yet eight months on, and after Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s decision to switch Nokia’s smartphone focus to Windows Phone 7, the same thing has happened again. HTC has made Nokia look outdated and outmoded with a new handset and some seriously smart new software.
This week’s Nokia event in London was centred on Symbian - an OS that has been completely undermined, but still needs to do the numbers as Nokia pushes back the release of its first Windows Phone 7 (WP7) handset into 2012. The phones shown off are no doubt slick. The X7 and E6 are both great-looking smartphones, the latter a business-focused blower to die for, the former a touchscreen cell that would have had plenty of people cooing back in 2009.
The main focus, though, was the announcement of Symbian Anna. An over-the-air update that brings a portrait touchscreen QWERTY keyboard, updated Ovi Maps, new icons and much-needed browser performance improvements. This is heading to the E7, N8, C7 and C6-01. Great news, but as ever with Nokia, the release date is nicely vague. “Over the coming months,” hardly sounds promising, especially from a company that’s become renowned for its lengthy delays. Symbian Anna is already loaded up on the X7 and E6, but there’s no official word on just when they’ll hit retailers. Three is said to be unleashing the X7 in June.
Meanwhile HTC held its own London gathering to showcase the much-leaked Sensation its new dual-core smartie with gorgeous 4.3-inch qHD screen, 4GB of memory and the latest version of HTC’s Sense skin on top of Android 2.3. There’s an 8MP camera too, as well as HTC’s new Watch TV streaming service.
And what’s more, the Taiwanese tech titan has said the phone will be on shelves by mid-May, even giving Vodafone a short exclusive. It also took time to confirm that its tablet, the HTC Flyer, will be available on May 9th.
The contrast is pretty obvious. Nokia is still having to push on with Symbian. Its update is welcome for loyal customers, but it’s hard to get excited by phones using an OS that will soon be relegated by WP7. Nokia might insist it’s still relevant, but Symbian still can’t hold a candle to Android and iOS. Meanwhile, HTC goes from strength to strength. It delivers devices to market swiftly, its kit always looks and feels amazing and its customisation of Android is undoubtedly the best going.
Nokia needs to get on with its WP7 project swiftly now, ensuring that its new handsets and the Symbian Anna update don’t take month after month to get out into the wild. Fail to do so and it’ll lose even more initiative to rivals such as HTC.