On N97, features, and user experience 00:10 on Thursday

Prompted by yesterday’s announcement of the new Nokia flagship product, N97 (nano-review on Gizmodo).

Every piece of gadgetry, software or hardware, can be divided into features in two ways:

  1. By listing the cool technologies involved.
  2. By listing the cool things that people will find the gadget worth using for.

The thing about listing tech specs is that a gadget with all the right specs can still go horribly wrong in having the right user experience. Like:

  • You can have a 5MP camera that takes pictures which not only look horrible, but also take a lot of space on your disk. As an aside, the photography bible DP Review have taken steps to fight the megapixel madness — they now list pixel density (MP/cm2) for cameras instead of MP.
  • You can have a built-in GPS, heck, an A-GPS, and still provide a worthless navigation service.
  • You can budget a physical QWERTY keyboard for a device, only to find out the industrial designers made the keys unusable for fast typing.
  • You can have full support for a bundled online service on the device, while the same service completely fails on your “big computer” (still hearing stories of people who have Nokia Music Store gift vouchers they can’t redeem because the site fails to work in anything but IE7).
  • You can have a 16:9 widescreen and not have any decent way of getting 16:9 content to the device.
  • You can have “DVD quality video capture” which while getting the numbers right, fails to look anything like the quality you expect of DVDs.
  • You can have the fastest wireless access, and the slow rendering engine on the browser will render the bandwidth useless.

The point is that it’s all about how you combine the features you have. And that’s where Nokia is weak.

4 Responses to “On N97, features, and user experience”

    Links from my other posts:

  1. Mobile maps user experience benchmark — /personal

  3. Claudio Says:

    Such dead-on acurate and perceptive analysis. Props to you, Niko.

    But you might want to add:

    You can have 3G connection and a browser but if your interface doesn’t support easy effortless browsing these two features won’t be useful to anybody.

    This came to my mind when we compared browsing with N95, the Communicator and te iPhone. Naturally it was a no contest, but just to test the actual difference. On the other hand Nokia handsets all usually beat the iPhone as a mobile phone (calling, voice, SMS text)…

  4. samin Says:

    You forgot the “boss feature” where you can easily hide all the widgets from your desktop and reveal… that’s right, the desktop wallpaper!!

  5. Niko Says:

    The boss feature, for all companies living in 1994.