It's not unusual for a tech company to pull the plug on several of its devices in development, and Nokia isn't an exception. In fact, many companies might still house some of the most intriguing and innovative ideas that will never see the light of day for reasons undetermined.
In the case of Nokia, it's the Moonraker, a smartwatch that could have been.
The Moonraker never reached the market, being a collateral damage of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia back in 2013. The purchase halted development of the smartwatch. Despite this, it doesn't mean that no prototype was ever made, and indeed, that prototype has now surfaced.
The Nokia Moonraker
The hands-on video of the smartwatch was first posted by NokiaPowerUser, following a series of renders and real-life images of the Nokia Moonraker.
The design looks rather simple. There's nothing too fancy here, with it sporting a square touch screen display in a body with curved edges and a wrist strap. Keep in mind that in its development year, smartwatches were fairly nascent and niche.
Despite the wearable being short on aesthetics, the hands-on video shows that Nokia was experimenting with gestures as input for the watch face, much earlier compared with both Apple's watchOS and Android Wear's implementation of similar gestures.
The video shows that the Moonraker could have supported sending messages, making calls and tracking steps. These features are not by any means revolutionary, but if you consider the date when this was supposed to be unveiled, Nokia was clearly forward-thinking about its first smartwatch. Sadly, the timing of the acquisition left it at an impasse, and many other smartwatches have surpassed the Moonraker's capabilities since then.
NokiaPowerUser has posted an article detailing the watch's supposed 3D gesture implementation and it's quite a worthwhile read, considering Nokia has been experimenting with the technology for quite a while.
Why The Moonraker Was Canceled
The cancellation of Nokia's first smartwatch was a matter of bad timing, though Microsoft's handiwork also kept the device from possibly ever reaching the market. As previously mentioned, Microsoft yanked it out of the development stage, declaring it dead.
Plugging the life support of the Moonraker was a way for Microsoft to avoid cannibalizing its Band product lineup, a similar smartwatch series that's fitness-focused. That said, the Band hasn't exactly been ultra successful, with a third iteration suffering the same consequences as the Moonraker.
Neowin has spoken with several Nokia employees about the Moonraker and they have nothing but praise for the now-canceled smartwatch, with one of them describing it as "awesome."
Could Microsoft have been better off with the Moonraker instead of the Band? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!