When it comes to smartphone platforms, there are two main contenders: iPhone and Android. Sure, there are other products out there aside from Apple and Google’s offerings but BlackBerry appears to be very much on the way out and Windows Phone, despite the backing of Microsoft, hasn’t really captured much of the market yet.
But that Windows Phone platform is about to get a big boost from Nokia. The Finnish company, which made it big in handset phones is launching the Lumia 900, a smartphone that runs on Windows. The Lumia 900 will be available (at least for a while) at $99, making it half the price of the average new smartphone. But does the device have what it takes to compete against the big two and give customers a legitimate third major option? Or will it go the way of RC Cola, still technically on the market but trailing Coke (iPhone) and Pepsi (Android) by a country mile?
We talked to some tech journalists who have reviewed the Lumia 900 to get their takes.
“It’s a wow,” says Joe Brown, editor-in-chief at Gizmodo.com. “If you launch an app, it does what it's supposed to do. The map application, Nokia Maps, is actually better than Google Maps on your iPhone, which is nice. Nokia Transit, another app they built into it, is wonderful for finding your way around subways and buses in unfamiliar towns, and then it does everything you want a smartphone to do: email, social connections, surf the web.”
Not every reviewer was so positive. “It's got some wow factor, but overall, I was kind of disappointed,” says Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of TheVerge.com. “The multitasking, running apps in background, doesn't work as expected. There's some scrolling issues in some apps, the browser doesn't render a lot of web pages that I visit on a regular basis properly, and the camera was kind of bad too.”
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was your evening at the theater? Topolsky does say the phone looks really beautiful and it might work for some people, just not him. “I'm a guy who's on my phone nonstop all day doing everything. I think for the more casual user, this is a more solid phone.”
When you're looking into a smartphone, the number and variety of apps is important. And so far, Windows Phone is far behind iPhone and Android.
“It’s not much of a wow, unfortunately,” says Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal and All Things D. “They have 70,000 apps, which sounds like a lot, but you have to remember that Apple is now approaching 600,000 and Google is over 450,000 last time I checked. And some people might say, well, who cares -- 70,000 is plenty. But the fact is there are a lot of magazine apps and newspaper apps, and games and other things that are just not on there that you can find on the other platform. “
The Lumia 900 is officially released on April 8th.
Also in this program, speaking of Google and wow, Google has released a video of a special project it’s working on. Google Glasses look like regular glasses, kind of, but they can operate as a smartphone projected before your eyes. If these things get built, you’ll be able to make video calls while your friend hovers before your eyes (even though, you know, they’re not actually there, hovering). It’s a way of being online while still looking at the world. We debate the pros and cons.