Historical review: Nokia N97 was supposed to be an “iPhone killer” but it killed Nokia instead

Sina Digital News reported on the morning of November 23 that the N97 is a 3G smartphone with Symbian 9.4 S60 operating system launched by Nokia at the end of 2008. At that time, the iPhone had broken away from the initial sense of youth and began to be noticed by more people. The mobile phone industry leader Nokia urgently needed a mobile phone to save the field. This task fell on the fledgling N97.

N97 appearanceN97 appearance
Before N97, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic was the first Symbian S60 phone with a touch screen released by a Finnish manufacturer. This is not an excellent mobile phone, but it achieved 8 million sales in the first year and achieved gratifying results. Nokia wants to launch a more high-end product to continue the glory of the N5800.

But as a result, it failed, said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s vice president of marketing at the time. “From the perspective of shipment data and sales, N97 is a huge success for us. However, in terms of consumer experience and what we did not expect, this product is very disappointing.”

Anssi Vanjoki on N97
Nokia was still the leader of the industry at the time, and could sell mobile phones based on its trademark alone. In the past, smartphones only ran a few applications and only had access to a limited network. The smart phones of the future must face sites similar to PC pages and run applications as complex as desktop computers, which far exceeds the hardware and software capabilities of the Nokia platform.

The iPhone made the touch screen popular, and the N97 also has a touch screen. The 3.5-inch screen has a video-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio and is larger than the screen equipped with the 5800. However, it still uses resistive touch. Compared with capacitive touch, it is always a poor choice, with lower sensitivity and lack of multi-touch support.

The screen of N97 was very good at the time, except for the resistive screen.The screen of N97 was very good at the time, except for the resistive screen.
Steve Jobs fascinated the whole world with two-finger pinch screen zoom and iPhone’s rich apps. The competing touch-screen version of Symbian feels like a patchwork. The goal is to make the operating interface of the Symbian system work with the touch screen.

This task is no easy task. So far, Microsoft is still trying to balance the Windows 10 interface so that it works equally well on the touch screen of a tablet computer as it does on a traditional laptop. You may remember UIQ, which is a branch of Symbian designed for touch screen phones, but UIQ has not become the final answer. Compared to iOS, it is closer to Windows Mobile. The company behind it also fell into trouble soon and went bankrupt in early 2009.

Why did N97 fail? This is a controversial issue, because it does not seem to have much to do with the N97 screen, and it is not even caused by the clumsy Symbian software. Mainly because of Nokia’s mentality at the time, this is the real problem. N97 was launched in mid-2009. Its single-core processor has a clocked frequency of 434 MHz and only 128MB of RAM. After loading the operating system, there is only about 50MB of free space.

This is actually not a key factor, these parameters are the same as the original iPhone and the iPhone launched two years ago. In addition, N97 also competes with the iPhone 3GS with a 600MHz processor and 256MB RAM.

In fact, mobile phone processors at the time were very weak, and iOS did not learn multitasking until many years later.

The Symbian system has supported true multitasking for many years, but it runs a relatively simple App, which can easily adapt to the limited resources available. The point is that after Apple and Google opened the doors of their app stores, developers quickly turned to creating apps and games for desktop computers, and N97 was unable to deal with such apps.