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Nokia's N97 and the dilemma of the iPhone killer

December 2, 2008 | 10:58 am

Nokia_n97_2

Yet another knight has come forward vowing to slay the iPhone. Nokia today unveiled its N97, which  features a 3.5-inch touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, 48 GB of storage and a GPS device that allows you to constantly update your location on social networks.

Sure, there are some problems: Critics say it’s a bit clunky, it costs about $700 and it doesn’t have a carrier in the U.S. But, hey, it’s the "world’s most advanced mobile computer.” It shall prevail. It’s already being called an “iPhone killer” and featured in online battles against the iPhone.

Of course, Nokia will have to get in line behind a number of other knights that are supposedly going to kill the iPhone. RIM’s BlackBerry Storm, for instance. T-Mobile’s G1, which, in pictures, looks ...

... suspiciously like the N97. Samsung’s Instinct, LG’s Dare.

Which brings us to a dilemma faced many times in the Middle Ages: When all these knights come forward to kill the big monster that lives under the bridge, don’t they just reinforce the idea that the big monster under the bridge is really, really scary? And doesn't that make the monster harder to kill? In other words, does every “iPhone killer” just secure Apple’s place as the handset maker to beat?

Not necessarily, said Avi Greengart, research director for mobile devices at Current Analysis.

“There’s already healthy competition underway,” he said, especially from RIM, which offers a number of devices to fit whatever your preference may be. Greengart, who is currently in Barcelona, Spain, testing the N97, said the Nokia device is “drool-worthy” and "a beautiful device."

Despite RIM's and Nokia's attempts, Greengart said, “no one has developed a user interface or integrated user experience as Apple has done on the iPhone or with iTunes.” 

The monster under the bridge is still pretty formidable. But with the N97 not out until early 2009 and the race to kill the monster heating up, expect more companies to step up in the next few months. That includes a certain company in Cupertino that isn’t going down without a fight, Greengart said.

Does that mean we'll see a new and improved monster sometime soon? Perhaps the knights need to sharpen their swords.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo by oriondo via Flickr

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