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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Finland-USA 1-1

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

It truly was what the computers had become. And the real incumbent masters of that game had it all figured out already by then. It did not take for too long before their answers came. Just few days after the black cubical Nokia tent with that provocating statement addressing the audience of CES’07 in Las Vegas, and Apple launched iPhone to claim the true invention of the device for the next era of personal computing. Simultaneously, in Mountain View the Android team at Google was already punching its way towards the industry dominance in the operating system. Something which would see the daylight later on that year. Helsinki, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Silicon Valley - it was all on the maps already then in 2007.

California IronicAds, NokiaLast ten years for Nokia have been truly an Amazing Race around the planet of computing. Put together the late 90’s smartphone inventions of Silicon Valley startups like Unwired Planet and the visions of Nokia about the Mobile Information Society. Add to that the determined, fast and immense R&D investment and the result was that Silicon Valley was left far behind. By 2005 the billions were starting to chime in. It was Finland-USA 1-0 in the next generation of personal computing.

Nokia’s Symbian smartphone business figures are truly impressive: Hundreds of millions of smartphones sold over the last ten years. This means tens of billions of profit and billions invested. Still, for some of us something seemed wrong under the hood. The productivity and creative dynamics were not quite there. This was not real computing. These were much better phones yes, but was that really the point?

Creative dynamics is about invention and productivity and these are catalyzed by openness. Computing is nothing new but there exists a wealth of methods, technologies and ecosystems out there and true progress has always been attained on the shoulders of the giants, not by do-it-yourself with stone age toolkits. These were the premises on which we started to build the renewal of Nokia smartphone R&D to turn the initial leadership of Symbian smartphones into sustainable one for Nokia. And boy, what an Amazing Race this was too: in 2005 Nokia Internet Tablet with the Maemo open source OS, “Made for Silicon Valley”, hit the Financial Times and San Jose Mercury News alike with zero marketing budget. The race had started already in 2001 with embedded Linux startups of the valley, continued with Netscape and AOL, with founding of a dozen of open source consultancies all around the world, deals with Yahoo, Google, Skype, Microsoft, GNOME, Trolltech, Facebook and so on. Yet the outcome to this date for Nokia remains only around few million Maemo handheld computers sold over the last five yeas. Profit and investment in the same ballpark of few hunderd millions. This is less than 1% compared to Nokia’s Symbian smartphone business. This is NOTHING, right?

Now what? For those of us who are quick to jump into conclusions the Nokia-Microsoft news from yesterday have been saying it all: the sturm und drang of Nokia and Finland in computing seems over, only devastation and depression remaining. I do not think so. Clearly it is time for some serious thinking now, but it is not time to panic. In a moment like this we need to think positively - of all the things achieved, of all the knowhow and technology accumulated, and be on lookout for the new opportunities now opening. From death and decay nature usually sprouts new life and this is no different in the hi-tech ecosystem. The thing now is to hold fast to our remaining assets and trust in the creative force. It is only 1-1, not game over. This game never ends.

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Monday, October 29th, 2007

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Sketch editing of 3D is cool

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Wow!

I just made a 3D model in few minutes. Never thought it would be so easy! Here is my Lama :-)

My 3D lamaI used Teddy which is a little Java application made by Takeo Igarashi. Check it out yourself. Just watch the 5min video and try it out. In 10 mins you have a funny model of yours!

Teddy is a nice piece of software. You can draw a model and export it. There is also SmoothTeddy which is a bit more advanced software adding painting features. It is not as stable is Teddy, though. Teddy is still more a demo than serious application. As soon as I stared experimenting with it I already started to yearn for more capabilities. Like zooming, (stable) painting, textures, animation, ready-made templates etc. I wonder if there are some more developed alternatives available?

Another interesting bit was the little girl in the video who was using Teddy to make her teddybear or something. I tried that at home but at least our 5 years old was not too impressed. She drew a rock and rotated it around dismissing it as yet another of daddy’s toys …

Joined Facebook

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I finally joined facebook (here: Valtteri@facebook). Started to receive invitations each day. I guess this will stop them coming?

I must say that Facebook was really easy service to set up all my webfeeds. Let’s see if it will in the end bring some useful info also for me and not just about me . . .

Modern smartphone software

Friday, September 28th, 2007

It's what computers have become

“It is what computers have become”. This was our proud slogan at CES 2007 fair in Las Vegas this January when we launched N800 and other Nokia products. But why is it that most serious large-scale smartphone software development today still is very labor intensive? Why do we still lack the wealth of sophisticated development productivity tools and methods that are commonplace in desktop and server system development? Why do we consider C++ a top notch programming language technology? Why don’t we have a prosperous value ecosystem of ISV:s, VAR:s and professional services? Why do I believe that we soon do not need ask these questions any more?

But wait. Don’t we have lot of evidence about ultra-modern smartphone software? We have the Symbian C++ programming model, Microsoft smartphone, QT Phone edition and their developer communities. We have Flash Lite, MIDP Java, and even AJAX making inroads in the mobile web browsers. But seriously, when you look at it these are all mere shadows of their original ancestors. We still lag tremendously in productivity and richness compared to software industry average.

For the last ten years I have personally had a big problem with this “smartphone software stone age”. I started my career as a software professional in a typical way toiling in UNIX C environment and soon learning my way through higher level languages, frameworks and IDE:s in desktop and server environments. Being a finnish computer science graduate in the late 90’s I could not resist the flow and found myself working in the R&D of Nokia Mobile Phones growth tornado. But boy, was I horrified when I realized the state of software engineering in this industry! I simply refused to go along with it. Instead of turning myself into a software caveman I’d rather choose the desperate mission to first help bringing smartphone software to the modern days. And ever since this choise I’ve been busy with work … but that is another story :-).

There are good historical reasons for the backwardness of smartphone software:
- The device industry has been concentrated to few giant players and also the name of the R&D game has been huge scale economies. It has traditionally been possible to choose quantity over quality and productivity in R&D.
- In the early 90’s the cell phone software was developed by just a handful of engineers. Software has only recently emerged on the side of hardware in R&D intensity. Product design cycles adapt and competence accumulates with lag of some years
- Smartphone hardware performance is about 10 years behind desktop PC:s. Modern operating systems, interpreted languages, virtual memory, scalable graphics and fonts etc. etc. have only recently become technically feasible.

All this being said I can’t help feeling little tickles in my back. More and more these reasons seem to step deeper into history which covers them in the darkness of mobile software middle ages. New era is slowly dawning for smartphone software - or should we rather call it pocket-size computing?