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I want to invite you to my new gig over at Light Thinking. We are devloping light gadgets for photographers.
You can't be a designer and not be into photography at some level. Maybe you know about the whole off-camera strobe movement that originated over at at strobist? Maybe you even know about the new HDSLR cameras and all the amazing stuff people are doing with them?
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Nokia has a vision for our mobile future.
They have divided us up into 4 groups. Earlier they divided us up into 6 archetypes: Communicators, Balancers, etc. Kind of strange that we are only 4 now, since handsets are diverging. But I guess Nokia know what they are doing, they invented this stuff. Before Nokia we were all in a single group!
The 4 groups are Achieve (business phones), Explore (N-Series), Live (feature phones for the mainstream) and Connect (the more basic phones).
Today the Series 60 (S60) operating system is used for Smartphones. It is a very feature rich OS. The core of the OS is developed by Symbian. The phone features and the user interface components is developed by Nokia. The reason for developing S60 in the first place was mainly to compete with PDA's.
The Nokia PDA
Back in the day, business types used to carry around a phone and an organizer (a PDA). Someone said "why do we lug around two devices? They should merge into one". A race of sorts started. Who is going to win the "Business Market"? PDAs with phone capabilities or phones with PDA capabilities?
The normal modus operandi for this situation is that the marketing department hands down a list of features that the product "must have". It has to have email, sync the calendar etc, etc, and the user must be able to install 3rd party programs. In fact, the phone has to become a small computer because that is what PDAs are. All very well, if the business types really want a small computer they can call from, by all means.
The S60 user interface is designed for smartphones, small computer-like devices. About 6,3% of the market (world wide) chooses to buy a Smartphone. 80% (?) of the market bought a Feature Phone last year. Now Nokia envisions a future where they are moving S60 into the mainstream market. This is just not going to fly with the current S60 user interface.
We are ready for the next "Series"
S60 is developed by people that are spread all over the world. And this shows in the interface. Features that belong together are spread all over the place. According to Conway's Law: "Any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it".
S60 interaction is built with a small set of basic GUI elements that are well done and well tested. Trouble is that the lists-menus-viewers way of building mobile phone interfaces has reached its limit. Higher screen resolution gives us new UI possibilities. We don't want a general purpose GUI handed down from the business types. If we are going to "Explore: Sharing Discoveries" we want an optimized GUI! I want to add "No smartphone UI please!" to the Mobile Lifestyle Manifesto.
There is a set of videos from NokiaDesign that shows some really interesting and far out concepts. A semi-transparent phone where the screen draws on top of the surroundings? Man, I want one of those! Get to work on Series 100, Nokia! :-)