November 18, 2014

Nokia N1

Nokia, who sold their device business to Microsoft, has announced a new device. The Nokia N1 is an Android 5.0 tablet that’s trying to channel the iPad mini. It’s almost ridiculously close to Apple’s device, and so is the imagery on the product website. On the flipside, this also means that the N1 might be the best looking Android tablet thus far.

Two things stand out.

  1. Z Launcher, Nokia’s app launcher that wants you to scribble the first letter of the app you want to open, thus making it easily available. Think of it as Apple’s Spotlight feature, but with scribbling instead of typing the initial letter.
  2. The reversible USB port. Finally, a device with this new standard.

The N1 exists to show off the Z Launcher, and to remind people about Nokia’s new strategy. They’re licensing their brand, and the N1 is a showcase of this. It’s made by (Apple supplier) Foxconn and launches in China late February next year, with Russia (assuming no trade embargoes kicks in) and Europe to follow.

Nokia has a good track record of the quality of their devices. They know what they’re doing. The N1 is in the hands of Foxconn though, and that could mean anything. It’s also disturbingly close to the iPad mini design, which might anger Apple, possibly rightly so. That’s not the best start for their licensing program, if you ask me. Nokia doesn’t need an expensive Apple lawsuit, they need something that proves their relevanace today, post-Microsoft. I’m having a hard time seeing how pulling a Samsung/Xiaomi and cloning Apple is the way to go.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.