I’ve spent the past two days attending the inaugural Nokia Developer Summit. For those interested who weren’t able to attend, there’s been coverage on Nokia Conversations, and on Twitter using the #nds09 tag.
The high level takeaways from the show are:
- If you want to develop for Nokia, build WRT widgets. They’ve got a lot of functionality, you can tie it in with other Ovi services, and they can be built quickly.
- If you need more low level control than is offered by WRT, be sure to develop using Qt because that’s the direction everything is moving in — S40, S60, and Maemo all are moving towards Qt
- Once you’re done with your app, supposedly you can make lots of money with it on Ovi Store.
I don’t attend a lot of conferences, but if I had to give this one a letter grade, I’d give it a solid B.
- It was a large enough conference to be significant, but small enough that it still felt real and informal. Attendees were friendly and open.
- The Nokia staff were extremely friendly and responsive. Everyone at Nokia I talked to gave time and attention to my questions, which is more than I can say for some other confereneces I’ve attended. There were even some instances where they went above and beyond. For instance, @ribot and I were talking about some Flash Lite issues, and when the Forum Nokia rep didn’t have the answer, she picked up her phone, dialed a number, and handed it over saying, “The Flash Lite guy is on the phone. Ask your question.” That’s responsiveness (and let’s hope they continue that same level of responsiveness online).
- There was a good mix of content delivered in meaningful ways. In addition to keynotes and specific tracks, there were sessions to demonstrate hands-on coding, and fun events like the 24-hour hackathon. Even the booths at the event didn’t feel too gimmicky or sales oriented.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
- Not enough specifics about timelines. We were shown a lot of new technology, but no clear roadmaps for exactly when the APIs would be made public. Also, some APIs were clearly targeted towards WRT developers and some towards native app developers, but this info wasn’t offered up — it didn’t come out until the Q&A.
- Not enough emphasis on clear development paths. Developing for mobile involves a chaotic mix of different devices, screen sizes, firmwares, OS features, network speeds, local languages and operators. I was hoping that Nokia would help make some sense of this mess and give developers some idea of where they could obtain maximum value for their efforts, but no one seemed willing to put a stake in the ground and say, “Do it this way.”
- Truly embracing openness. Lee Williams from the Symbian Foundation gave an emotional presentation on living and breathing the idea of open source, but in countless other sessions Nokia was promoting APIs that were only available to select partners and wouldn’t be open to the public until the software was released publicly. I really wish Forum Nokia would adopt their own Labs section similar to Nokia Beta Labs where *anyone* could be given early access to some of these APIs.
But overall, I thought it was a great experience. I’m curious what others out there are thinking (regardless of if you attended). Comments?