The other day I was in a debate organized by Nokia in which we were asked by Om Malik about mobile phones and their likelyhood to dethrone the iPod as the music device that people carry around. What follows is a very personal analysis of the comparison of this week´s test of alternatively walking around with an N80 vs walking around with an iPod.

Cool factor: iPod is still cooler but novelty is wearing out. N80 is a multipurpose device, amazing functionality but its design can´t compare to the simple beauty of an iPod (are they at the MOMA shops yet?)

Amount of Songs: N80 can only compare to nano iPods, other than that the 2GB memory is way too small. What can however make an N80 beat an iPod is the ability to download songs or especially to stream music through the internet via WiFi or 3G, especially WiFi since 3G is such a rip off. When an N80 becomes something like a Music Gremlin then it is much better than carrying an iPod.

Software: iTunes is a million times better than the software that comes with Nokia to listen to music. Windows media is also a say, half a million times better. Still there is something that you can do when you listen to music in the N80 that you cannot do with an iPod that it is extremely important to me and that is that you can INTERACT with your music. With an N80 when I find a song I like I can send it to a friend, I can add it to a playlist, I can set it as a ring tone, I can rate it, with an iPod the listening process is a very lonely moment. It´s you and your music, you can´t rate it, you can´t share it, you can´t do anything special with it.

Other things you can do with the gadget: ok, ipods are small, but so is the N80, and when you have an N80 you can film, take pictures, write e mail, text, call, make internet calls for free, blog films, pictures or text, view videos and listen to music. With the iPod you can do the last two things, view videos and listen to music. The N80 is a social device, the iPod has this wanker element to it that I dislike.

Bottom line is that as of this weekend I am only carrying the N80 for music and not the iPod anymore. Now if an iPod shows up tomorrow with 3G, WiFi, and all the bells and whistles of the Nokia N80 I will be ready to change my mind again. In the meantime there´s the Motorola Razor with iTunes which I would carry if it wasn´t that the camera is 1.3 megapixels and not 3 like the N80 and the email platform is really bad.

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PanMan on October 1, 2006  · 

So, you’r vouching for the Zune, than? That does have lot’s of the sharing things you describe..

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Antti H on October 1, 2006  · 

Hi, the Nokia folks have been pushing info at you quite a bit haven’t they? 🙂

Just to set the record straight, you can rate a song on any iPod while listening to the song, you can add songs to a playlist on the iPod itself (and yes, the playlist is saved back to iTunes, on-the-go playlist is the name of the feature)

As for sharing the music, that’s what I do everytime I ride in a car with friends and we decide who’s iPod we listen to. Try finding a standard headphone jack on a Nokia phone. Sharing is what happens when you see two kids listening to the same iPod on a bus, one wearing the left earphone and the other the right.

Last but not least the iPod is way, way more affordable than a Nokia Nseries anything, even if you have to buy a mobile phone on top of it all. 210 euro in for a nano iPod and another 110 euro for Nokia flip-phone adds up to considerably less than the 500 euro that gets charged for an N70 – and that’s before you upgrade the memory to 4 Gb. The value proposition on the Nokia side just isn’t up to competitive standard yet.

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Rodrigo on October 1, 2006  · 

What about the price?. is it possible to compare gatgets with such a different cost regarding consumer interest?.

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Libo on October 2, 2006  · 

Yes you can rate songs on iPod, press the central button and then you can give from 1 to 5 stars, this rate is synced with iTunes and the other way around.

Anyway don’t worry, Steve Jobs will break up with Motorola for the second time soon. (max 2 years). Finally he will unveil that damn phone we all are waiting for, and that has been hidden all this time in a lab in the area 51 surrounded by aliens who speak Finnish!

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pradyum on October 2, 2006  · 

I liked Nokia phones – when they use to make nice looking ones, several years ago. N Series vs iPod? Few thoughts,

1. Is N Series cooler than iPod? Can it?

2. It also depends on price points and usage

$300-500 or 2 yr contract is too expensive, and I am not even talking about music download pricing over the air. Also, I would not want my phone batteries (not Sony ones for sure :-)) drained by playing music. I believe Nokia N80 talk time is 3-4 hrs, whereas, for iPod nano music play time is around 24 hrs.

3. Besides, the excitement around Apple/iPod is beyond just music, and it will be interesting to see what cards Nokia can play in this space!



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samuelhary on October 2, 2006  · 

Mobile phones have become an integral part of a majority of our lives. We use them to remain connected with our friends and family; we use them to access important information from the internet; we even use the latest handsets as digital cameras or mobile music players. The point is that the roles taken on by the traditional mobile handset have diversified. With technological advancement, mobile phones have become highly innovative; so much so that many a times, it becomes rather inadequate to call these sophisticated gadgets mobile phones. According to my opinion, the term “mobile devices” would better represent everything that they stand for!

One such mobile device that has caught on the fancy of users from diverse regions of the globe is the Nokia N80. There are several advantages of the Nokia N80 mobile phone which justifies this title. Apart from effective communication, the handset can be used as a digital camera, an mp3 player, a personal organizer and a gaming console. Then there is WLAN connectivity. Thanks to this functionality of the handset, phone users can access the internet for information that is important to them in different spheres of their lives. They can utilize this information and make their professional and personal lives all the more productive. The speed of internet access is also quite high. It takes quite less time to send virtually large emails or for uploading images online.

Another unique feature of the Nokia N80 mobile phone handset is the integrated digital music player. Mobile phone owners can use this feature of the N80 handset from Nokia to listen to their favorite music tracks whenever they are feeling down and out and are in the need of a little bit of sunshine in their lives. The audio quality is stunning to say the least; the handset is also technically empowered for playlist support as well as for supporting the latest ringtones.

In addition, the Nokia N80 mobile phone is Bluetooth compatible. Consequently, phone users can connect to other Bluetooth devices through their handsets. Moreover, quad band connectivity ensures that users of this handset are connected with their friends, family and colleagues virtually anywhere in the world.

After going through the features of the Nokia N80 mobile phone model, we can draw certain conclusions. We can say that the handset is just perfect for modern day professionals who have to meet strict turn around times and are required to pack in that extra punch in the 24 hours at their disposal. Apart from web access, features such as calendar, contacts, task list, email and PIM functionality make their job all the more easy. They can initiate video conferences and calls, which often translates into better prospects for their projects and businesses, as the case may be. This Nokia mobile phone handset, with all its specialized capabilities, can also be a boon for other categories of mobile phone users as well.

Interested in acquiring this handset? You can easily do so by availing of attractive contract mobile phone deals on the same. The Nokia N80 mobile phone is now available on orange network in the UK, for instance. So, if you are a resident of the UK, you can benefit from cost effective deals from this leading network service provider and acquire this handset at industry leading costs.

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Mike on October 2, 2006  · 

Two comments: comment #6 can almost be considered spam, specially coming from someone in, and writing such a glaring review of the phone.

The cutting edge the iPod has had is that it is very good at one thing. Nokias are average at several things. I listened to music on my N70 for a few months, before I switched to the iPod. Boy, what a difference! The playlist management on the Nokias is awful, the PC Suite is for Windows only, so if you have a Nokia and a Mac, you need some third-party playlist editor, then transfer it manually to your phone, etc. The iPod would be worth 10% if iTunes didn’t exist, and this is what is happening to Nokia. What they really need is iNokia, multi-platform.

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Nick on October 2, 2006  · 

I don’t know if you’ve picked up a 5th gen video ipod… but you CAN rate music & you CAN create playlists.

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Martin Varsavsky on October 3, 2006  · 


The price of an ipod and an N80 is similar, but hard to really compare cause most people get the N80 with carrier points or contracts.


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Martin Varsavsky on October 3, 2006  · 


I think that my review was fair pointing out the pros and cons. If anything my bias is towards what we do at FON, namely to promote WiFi everywhere. So with ubiquitous WiFi an iPod becomes an interactive device, a buffer for music you really like and then access to all the community and music in the world. I like Music Gremlin in terms of software but the device itself is clunky and not great looking and it should cost around $10 per month and not $15.


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Martin Varsavsky on October 3, 2006  · 


Well, the Zune seems to be a step in the right direction but only if it´s linked to a service like


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Tomi T Ahonen on October 6, 2006  · 

Hi Martin and readers of this blogsite

Good posting Martin. And fascinating thread here in the discussion. I find it amusing, personally, that now in October 2006 people can very rationally and logically contrast a musicphone and an iPod. When I first introduced the prospect that in 2006 the iPod will lose its crown as the predominant music consumption device – to the mobile phone – and this was before any of the N-Series releases, or before the Walkman branded SonyEricssons, the LG Chocolate etc – I was almost crucified as a heretic. And that was literally a year ago, in October 2005.

How times change.

A couple of relevant points. In sheer numbers, in the first four years Apple shipped 42 million iPods to the end of 2005. During 2005 alone, Nokia shipped 45 million musicphones. This year Nokia says it will more than double that sales amount (Apple iPod sales have dropped for two straight quarters in 2006). And Motorola, SonyEricsson, Samsung and LG all report massive demand for their musicphones – SonyEricsson says already 25% of all of its phones are the high end Walkman branded musicphones.

Also for contrast. The iPod is a very relevant portable computing device, if you consider the gadgets side of hte IT industry. 40 – 50 million units sold is a nice annual number if you compare with say the 200 million PCs sold worldwide every year, or the about 7 milllion (stand-alone ie non cellular phone enabled) PDAs sold annually.

But the mobile phone industry totally dwarfs this. Mobile phones will ship over 1 BILLION units this year. 270 million of them will be musicphones. Yes, musicphones in 2006 outsell iPods at a ratio of more than 5 to 1.

I took a lot of heat from the Apple/Mac/iPod fanatics last year when I started to talk about this. Earlier this year the fight was still heated. Today Apple people also understand that only in America iPod sells at 75% market share. Its four next best markets – Australia, Canada, UK and Japan – iPods at only between 40% and 60% of the market. In other major markets like Germany and France iPod market share is in the mid teens or so. In China its low single digits.

Meanwhile iTunes – in many of the most advanced mobile markets like Japan, South Korea, Sweden – and in many of the biggest music markets like Germany, UK – more music is already sold directly to musicphones than via iTunes to iPods. I am not talking about the ringing tone market – which is TEN TIMES larger than iTunes. I’m talking about full track MP3 downloads. In Sweden for example you can buy direct full-track MP3 files of some older songs for as little as 8 cents per song. In South Korea you pay 50 cents for any current hit. And in South Korea already today, 45% of ALL MUSIC SOLD, not all “digital music downloads” – are to mobile phones. In America iTunes does not account for even 10% of the American music market.

Obviously none of this addresses the N-80. Just a bit of background of the bigger picture of musicphones vs iPods. If you want more, please visit my blogsite

Two relevant points I want to mention. In most countries mobile phones are subsidised. Early on, any of the most advanced phones will carry a premium. But today, for example, here in the UK, you can get the N-80 for free, on a pay-monthly (post-pay) contract which is about twice the average phone bill. Not beyond anyone’s reach, not astronomically priced. Or if you hit the average monthly phone bill level for the UK, you have to pay about 100 UKP (140 Euro/180 USD) for the handset.

Makes it VERY compelling price wise, in contrast to an iPod. For “free” you get a 3 megapixel camera and inbuilt flash; 3G connectivity; bluetooth, AND the musicplayer, high storage – AND REMOVABLE memory capacity, currently up to 2 GB of removable storage, soon to be 4 GB.

And its a phone. And it has SMS. And it has a full web browser. Etc etc etc.

If you have an iPod already – you will have to live with the compromises – eg battery life etc. But if you don’t have an iPod – and obviously 99.1% of the planet does NOT own an iPod – while 37% of the planet already carries a mobile phone! – then there is “no comparison”. Do you take the free upgrade to a high-end musicphone like the N-80, or do you shell out the 200 dollars for the iPod Nano? A no-brainer. You cannot live without the phone….

Which brings me to the other point. Phone replacement cycles worldwide are down to 18 months already (and still dropping). Young people replace even faster. 25% of European phone owners have two subscriptions (usually means two phones) and in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy etc this is near 40%. So for them the effective replacement cycle rate is 9 months.

Imagine that. EVERY YEAR we get FOR FREE a new top-end phone. Take the N-80 now, then take the 5 megapixel Samsung cameraphone next year, etc. The rules of the game are totally stacked against the iPod. No subsidies, no 18 month replacement cycles, no billion-unit annual shipment scales.

I’m NOT AGAINST THE iPOD. I do need to be clear. I wrote very glowingly about the iPod and iTunes in my latest bestselling book, Communities Dominate Brands (ipod is a case study). I love Apple. I am certain the iPod will retain the top-end niche among the serious music fans and professionals like musicians and DJ’s.

But the mass market shifted to musicphones this year. just like the Mac vs PC.


Tomi T Ahonen 🙂
4-time bestselling author on high tech
lecturing at Oxford University
founding member Carnival of the Mobilists, Wireless Watch, Engagement Alliance and Forum Oxford

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Lassi Kinnunen on October 11, 2006  · 

3g being such ripoff depends where you live.

around here you can get 128kbit/s 3g for 10e per month(no transfer limit), and it is enough for streaming shoutcast radios.

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Martin Varsavsky on October 12, 2006  · 

Indeed Lassi,

Some are lucky with 3G, most aren´t.


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Katty on October 18, 2006  · 

The Sony Ericsson K800i mobile phone is a cybershot digital camera and the first Sony Ericsson handset to sport the Cyber-shot brand name. It is a small and sophisticated feature packed 3G mobile phone. A 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and a built-in xenon flash are some of the great features of the phone. It is a dual mode UMTS/GPRS phone together with unique mobile applications and Sony digital imaging technology. It supports a large screen and tactile keypad with a stylish dual front phone design. Other features of K800 are FM tuner, USB 2.0, Memory Stick M2 slot, 64MB of internal storage and of course, digital camera features such as Xenon Flash, 16x digital zoom, red-eye reduction, and an image stabilizer. The K800 is also a complete entertainment package including music player and 3D gaming.

The Sony Ericsson K800i is a successor of the K750 and it upgrades the camera resolution from 2 to 3.2 mega pixels and replaces the ordinary LED flash with the Xenon one. As a multimedia-oriented phone, it comes with stereo headphones. The camera stabilizer function of the phone compensates any small movements of the hand when taking a picture and shooting video. When you take a photo, you can share it straight away using Bluetooth, multimedia messaging or blog it. An impressive feature is BestPic that ensures that you never miss an important picture. This feature allows you to capture exactly the moment you desire. You can get 9 full quality 3.2 megapixel pictures to choose from and save the ones you like best. The phone combines advanced image capture capabilities with high speed data transfer. This makes it perfect tool for shooting and sharing high quality pictures and video.

Overall, it is a small and sophisticated feature-packed 3G mobile phone that is an all in one device. It is an ideal imaging mobile phone that you cannot resist buying.

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