Tim: the problem with Nokia’s ‘Tube’


For London Transport, a late running tube isn’t a rare occurrence. But they generally don’t take a year to arrive.

Nokia’s tube isn’t so punctual. A year after demonstrating how it could use the Series 60 operating system on a touchscreen device, and over a year since the iPhone upset the mobile applecart, Nokia’s first mass market full touchscreen handset has finally been announced – although it still won’t labour into the station until Q1 next year.

For the handset “formerly known as the Tube” – Nokia in the end went for the much catchier name of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic (which just rolls off the tongue) – it appears to have been a troubled route to market. And it now arrives as a budget phone.

Whether originally it was meant to be a budget phone or an iPhone killer-proper, we don’t know. Maybe it just took that long to come up with the name. Maybe it’s just that it has taken so long that most of its features now look passé.

It says a lot about a phone when its chief innovation is its ability to stalk people on the homepage – the Tube, sorry the 5800 XpressMusic phone, allows users shortcuts to four contacts on their homepage, which can be clicked on to reveal a page of call/message instructions and an RSS feed linked with their contact’s social networking updates.

Nice, but hardly the headline technological leap Nokia’s Korean rivals Samsung and LG are making in the megapixel war.

The Tube – heck, let’s stick with that – has pretty standard camera and video offerings, and a touchscreen is hardly groundbreaking these days.

The youth demographic is certainly important, and the Tube should perhaps be viewed in terms of Nokia’s over-arching content play, which will depend largely on the youth market.

Nevertheless, it comes as something of a letdown Nokia has not shown its might and heritage by taking on Apple’s iPhone directly – with a supreme touchscreen phone that sorts the men from the boys in the mobile space.

The N96 will have to do in the meantime.

As for the Tube’s other hyped ‘selling point’ – its stereo speakers are the loudest in the world, ever (fact!), apparently – I’m certainly not meeting this announcement with a tickertape parade. Coupling it with over five million Comes With Music tracks, and you see why I’m worried.

Don’t companies have any sense of social responsibility? I don’t want Barbie Girl played any louder on my morning commute, thanks.