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Top 5 differences between the Sony mylo and Nokia 770…


…and why they matter.

The Sony marketing machine swept into action last week with the announcement of the new mylo personal communicator. The big deal is its WiFi and Skype capabilities, which many are claiming will make it a ground breaking product. Not everyone has bought into it, though, as Alice shows on her blog. And to be honest I have to agree. It’s a typical Sony lifestyle play without a lot of strategic marketing thought. In contrast I’ve been playing with a Nokia 770 for a while now, and have got to say that it has some interesting and subtle differences which may just mean that the Nokia thrives while the Sony dies. Why? Read on…


I’ve done a quick chart of the specs of the two machines and given some winner/loser tags to try and put the two devices into context. On the face of it the two products are direct competitors, since neither of them are phones, and both have WiFi and Internet chat bundled. So what are the differences, and why do they matter?

No 1. Target Markets. Where the Sony is pitched as a ‘personal communicator’, the Nokia is tagged as an ‘internet tablet’. It’s subtle but crucial, which we see as we look at the spec of the two devices. The Sony comes with a rather bare bone set of capabilities, namely limited file handling and software. Even the WiFi is only 802.11b and not g. The Nokia on the other hand is fully loaded. It’s been designed to handle just about anything you can chuck at it (the only surprise is the lack of Java). Why does it matter? Because the Nokia target market is a growing chunk of the population who want to carry around a small, usable Internet tablet for casual browsing and emailing in mobile situations and in the home. Anyone who’s surfed on a 3G phone will know what a dire experience it is.

The 770 is designed to overcome those limitations, and does so. In use the Opera browser is fast and copes with just about anything on the web apart from the latest Flash versions. The most important thing here is that web navigation is fast and easy, thanks to the great controls on the 770 and the gorgeous touch screen. Sony on the other hand has produced what appears to be a pretty limited ‘youth communication’ product, in a crowded mobile phone, desktop IM market.

No 2. Bluetooth, baby. Bluetooth gives any WiFi device a second chance to connect to the all important Internet. If you’ve got a BT enabled 3G phone hanging around and you need to do some serious surfing out and about, you’re going to love the flexibility of using BT if there’s no WiFi to connect up and get stuff done. The mylo lets me do what, Skype in an airport? So what? The added bonus of Bluetooth is the support for external peripherals. The first two supported types are GPS units and external keyboards, which in themselves are useful tools, but who knows what may come down the line from the active dev community springing up around the 770.


No 3. It’s the screen stupid. Count how many devices exist on the market right now – PMP, phones, MP3 players, et al, which come with that tiny 2.x inch screen. It’s great if you’re just messing around on the net, but if you want to really use a browser, you need more real estate, better resolution and more control. The Nokia comes with it all in spades (and don’t tell me the mylo’s keyboard evens the score either). The screen is crisp, very easily controllable (e.g. you can increase or decrease web page size at the touch of a button) and it lets you really browse as though you were at home or work. Throw in a cool touch screen interface with useful (albeit not outstanding) handwriting recognition and you’re yet again way ahead of even the most sophisticated smart phone. And don’t forget this is what both these devices are really competing against at the end of the day!

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  • The thing is that Nokia is reinventing Nokia intends to create a new cellphone from scratch and Sony is teasing MySpace users. So they don’t share the same battle plan. But still, saying this doesn’t explain the poor technology orientations made by Sony. (And I don’t like the Mylo design)

  • The market for “personal communicators” is far larger than for portable internet browsers, so that’s hardly an argument in favor of the Nokia. The Sony is clearly designed more for the communicator task with its smaller size and available keyboard. There’s no doubt that the bigger screen in the Nokia is better for browsing but the two devices are targetted at different uses.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the Sony device is destined for failure. It’s basically a Sidekick without cellular support. Unlike the Nokia, the Sony form factor at least is proven in the market. I think both products are losers.

  • Craig, you’re right, in some months, every one would have forgotten (again) the Mylo. Unless, Sony achieves to bring up a community of developers round its open source platform. But Sony doesn’t seem very familiar with this kind of relationship.

  • Yeah Craig, I suppose we’re kind of coming at it from the same angle, although I believe that the Nokia does have a better market chance as a small carry around tablet browser, in that it does a better job of mimicking a laptop (or more precisely, a network appliance!).

    The whole thing goes away if the mobile network people do their job and produce a genuinely fast ubiquitous data network for a reasonable price. Then we’ll start seeing some really useful products. But I have to say that the Nokia 770 form factor would still seem to be a winner if that happened, if only because it is a nice compromise between screen size and pocketability.

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