Surprise collaboration with Carl Zeiss sees Nokia underline its commitment to camera phones
Today, your reporter is in Amsterdam, reporting from the worldwide launch of Nokiaís latest foray into hybrid mobile phone and multimedia offerings. Incidentally, the photos from the launch event in this report were taken today using a one megapixel Nokia 7710 smartphone.
Nokia today revealed it has created a newly branded Nseries line up of three smart phones, each equipped with a two megapixel (native) digital camera. All are based on Nokiaís well-established Series 60 smartphone platform. The surprise announcement was that Nokia has joined forces with the renowned German lens-maker, Carl Zeiss, and the new Nseries N90 is exclusively equipped with a fixed focal length, autofocus, Carl Zeiss lens.
Camera phone market 4x bigger than conventional camera market
The trick question goes: ďWhatís the biggest digital camera manufacturer?Ē Itís not Canon, Sony, Olympus, Nikon, or any seemingly obvious camera maker, itís Nokia. As Juha Putkiranta, senior vice president, Multimedia Imaging, Nokia, explained: "We foresee that already this year, the camera phone market will grow to be over four times the size of the digital camera market." So Nokiaís emphasis on its new Nseries brand doesnít really come as a surprise.
The Carl Zeiss news is quite interesting as it comes quite soon after Kyocera in Japan announced its withdrawal from the camera market. Kyocera manufactured Carl Zeiss camera lenses under licence for Contax cameras, another Carl Zeiss brand, which Kyocera also manufactured.
Kyocera also makes mobile phones and explained its departure from the digital camera market on a strategic decision to concentrate on developing and manufacturing camera modules for the mobile phone market. One wonders if any of this has any bearing on the Nokia and Carl Zeiss tie-up.
Nokia calls the N90 a twist and shoot camera
The Nseries model that dpnow visitors will probably be most interested in is the N90. Aimed specifically at the photographically minded, the N90 is a multiple configuration design with a screen that can be flipped up/out and tilted, while the camera lens section can be rotated on a central pivot.
The arrangement offers a generous amount of variation, including the ability to take self-portraits while viewing the screen for framing. One penalty is that the N90 is quite a bulky unit by camera smartphone standards.
Exactly how much benefit the new Carl Zeiss lens affords remains to be tested, but the N90 is the only Nseries model, for now, that features the CZ treatment. Nokiaís line is that the involvement of Carl Zeiss imposes much higher quality standards in both design and manufacturing.
Nokia promises to ship the N90 before the end June.
Demonstrating its adaptability, the N90 in self-portrait mode
Who needs an iPod mini?
The N70 is a much more compact and conventional smartphone, featuring a sliding cover. Like its Nseries siblings, it also features a two megapixel camera, but itís not Carl-Zeiss branded. Nokia says the N70 is one of the most compact 2MP camera phones yet. For your money you will also get an integrated FM stereo radio and 3D gaming capability.
With the new N91 Nokia appears to be targetting anyone thinking of buying an iPod Mini. To our knowledge, this is the first mobile phone to incorporate a mechanical hard drive. Sounding suspiciously like an integrated microdrive, the 4GB device is required for storing digital music collections. A serious set of digital music management tools is provided too. The N91, like the N70, incorporates a 2MP camera, which isnít Carl-Zeiss branded.
We are promised the N90 in the second quarter of this year, but no prices for any Nseries models or availability of the N91 and N70 were revealed today.
Read Nokia's press releases:
Nokia N90 makes its premiŤre
Nokia N70: Slide and Shoot
Nokia introduces the Nokia N91 for a true mobile music experience
Nokia launches Nokia Nseries branded multimedia device range
Nokia and Carl Zeiss join forces