I can't believe it's not Apple
As the name implies, Nokia World attempts to combine press, customer, developer and partner events into one, reasoning that a lot of what it has to show is applicable to all of them. To that end it had a sort of mini-trade show where we could get some hands-on time with its new devices.
Our first stop was with Damian Dinning, who works in computer solution planning at Nokia and was demonstrating the N8. To remind you, while the N8 has already been announced, it was grouped into this event with the over-arching theme being the launch of Symbian ^3 devices.
Dinning echoed his executives points about the N8 being exceptional for photography and video capture. He had a bunch of demo videos and a photo album and, it has to be said, we're not aware of a mobile phone that offers such a high standard of image capture.
We mentioned that Symbian has an image problem and possibly the major challenge faced by Nokia is that many people now can't look past the OS. Dinning stressed that both Symbian ^3 itself, and the new version of the Ovi store it enables, are major steps forward. One illustration he gave was the live widgets you can get on the homescreen, which display mini views of your email inbox, messaging, social networking, etc, with the messages pushed straight to the widget.
Moving onto the two more junior additions - the C6 and C7 - we saw that the UI is pretty much the same across all Symbian ^3 devices. These are very much mainstream smartphones, with the inevitable emphasis on social networking, LBS, etc. When we enquired about the difference between the two it was confirmed that, apart from a different chassis design, the C7 is just a bit of a hardware upgrade on the C6.
Finally the E7. When the QWERTY is retracted it looks and feels a lot like the N8, albeit a bit bigger. They're both surprisingly light due to the anodised aluminium body, and are generally not bad looking, with a wide choice of colours.
One of the most pleasing things about the E7 is the way the QWERTY opens up. There's a sort of spring-loaded hinge that results in the screen resting at around a 30 degree angle to the keypad. Other than that, most of the USPs for the E7 concern things like enhanced Exchange, secure VPN and better administrator facilities.
There's definitely a feeling among Nokia people that Symbian has been excessively maligned. All they ask is that you give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised. We were just chatting to a couple of US hacks and they confirmed that part of the problem for Nokia over there is that it just doesn't have the in-store presence to get interest going. Addressing that will presumably be a high priority for the new leadership.