"Whats happened to Nokia" Discussion

After spending 45minutes on the phone blowing my lid at Nokia and their seriously under-par phones, i thought i’d throw the question out there.

It seems Nokia are the anti-apple in some respects. One only has to take a short trip to their website to see they have 15-20million different types of phone with a stupid numbering system (so much so they have to start reusing numbers, adding ‘classic’ at the end to differentiate and confusing the hell out of consumers)… I think QC at Nokia has gone down the proverbial shitter.

(this is not a personal vendetta. very few of my friends are happy/satisfied/have not had issues with their new Nokia phones)…

  1. When did Nokia go wrong? People have suggested when they lost out big time on the nGague concept.
  2. Should they trim their lineup… Try and get 5 models working well, rather than 50 working below par.

Maybe im completely off the ball and ive just had a few (read: 6) bad experiences of late.

You’re obviously not looking at the cell phone industry as a whole - most companies besides Apple are in that boat. It’s the same reason that Motorola is jumping through hoops trying to salvage their mobile devices group.

Most of the other phones out there from LG, Samsung, etc all fall into the “pretty good to crap” range as well. My mom got a cheap free phone and it literally has a display so small that it only displays 2 lines of text at a time - you can’t tell if you’re scrolling through a continuous menu or just jumping through random pieces of data.

People are just beginning to realize that the UI is far more important than the device itself. It’s the reason that when Android devices start to come out it’ll be another big leap for mobile device development.

I’ve only had a cel for maybe two years out of the last ten. A Samsung and a Nokia. I found both to be difficult to use. I’m a young designer, I shouldn’t hit the wrong buttons as easily as I did. From a usability standpoint, they both features very deep menus that were difficult to navigate. That’s a limitation of the small screens that you mention. Apple has raised the game by selecting what options they wanted and doing them all well. Having the screen real estate to display everything clearly is a big plus. I predict others will follow shortly, although with a legacy of too many options.

Hehe. Man, you guys are running down a rat hole here.

It isn’t just Nokia or Moto, either. Its every effing wireless carrier that has a say in the design as well. Every Carrier wants a different flavor of the same phone for “differentiation”.

The wireless industry is a complete and utter Marketing gong show.

The irony of all of it is that for a while everyone (including most designers) were saying that Small phones sell. That’s what people want. Someone produces a small phone and they sell like wildfire. Now you have fat-assed Marketing Directors with massive sausage fingers screaming “Make it 10mm Thick!!”!!!

The conversation goes something like this now-a-days:

Sausage Fingered Marketing Director (SFMD): “I want a cell phone to be 40mm x 25mm x 6mm”

Design Manager: “First of all, the LCD is 5mm thick, that leaves no room for…”

SMFD: (interrupting) “I don’t want to hear excuses. Company XYZ just came out with an 9 mm thick phone and we need to kick their ass”

Design Manager: “You realize it will take a toothpick to dial each number?”

SFMD: “Perfect. We’ll buy multi-colored toothpicks and die them different colors for each carrier and call them 'Micro-Stilus’™”

Design Manager: (stunned silence)

Haha… brilliant.

first off, its important to note that the north american (ie. US and canada is even worse) market for cell phones is totally different than that of europe or certainly asia. i think US/canada is the only place on earth where you cant buy a phone separate from the carrier. its certainly not the status quo in most other places.

that being said, im in full agreement that most phones out there are indeed crap. i picked up a super thin samsung in Hong Kong a while ago for just this very reason (i think a similar model is now in the US). Samsung X820.

its now busted (yep, that thin is great in the pocket, but not so good if you fall asleep on the sofa and crush it), and have been looking for a replacement for some time. everything here from the carriers is junk.

i think its telling that while the US market is dominated by “subsidized” handsets from carriers, but that people will actually pay a premium for an iphone. i recently bought one on a trip to the US, and paid a small fee for someone to unlock it, but ive seen them for sale here in canada (and tons on ebay/craigslist) for anywhere from $100-300 more than retail costs (and the unlocking software is now actually free online!). proves that a good product can change a business model at the very least.

as for nokia, i was a big nokia fan for the longest time. my first 3 phones (this goes back about 10 years, mind you) were nokia, and i always loved the great UI, indestructible build quality (i once accidently dropped mine from a two-story balcony and it only suffered a minor crack in the faceplate, which was replaceable), and of course they pioneered the customization thing…

now however, in addition to having a crazy amount of SKUS with little product differentiation, there isnt a single handset IMHO that is small, decent and even remotely competitive with the best from samsung, moto (although they are also kinda junk, at least they are small), LG, or of course the big daddy of them all, iphone.

honestly though, the cell market here is so terrible, in part because of the power of the carriers i think we can only hope for some change…it will be interesting to see what google android does…


PS. yes, i think the iphone is truely as good as everyone says. i’ve wanted one since it came out, and have very high standards, and its even better than i expected. i honestly cant believe i have this thing in my pocket that does everything, and does it all so well. and speaking of UI, the iphone doesnt even come with a manual, and after playing around with it for 1 minute I was able to figure everything out and use it as i expected. thats UI design for you!

Where’s the innovation? I see the once-innovator as formulaic and obstinate.

I agree that trimming their lineup is a great way to focus on creating category leaders. This worked for Apple and Motorola to some degree.

In the US Nokia got arrogant and the carriers turned to Korea and China. Then the Blackberry, Razr and iPhone came around and put the nail in the coffin.

No more arrogant than Apple. They just didn’t have the goods to back it up.

Actually, this strategy has completely killed Motorola - they didn’t execute it well enough and have ended up with a portfolio of the same phone with tiny differences, so there is no way for them to chase emerging trends in different segments.

well there is the strategy and then there is the execution.
i think motorola managed to show what is possible with a focus on design, unfortunately it is becoming apparently that it was a few individuals who were responsible, not a strong corp. focus on design leading the business.

True. But look at their stock during the Razr-era: In a classic bell-curve they started at $8 in 2003, increased to $25 by 2006, then declined to $9 today.

What they needed was a new compelling platform at the peak of this bell-curve, 2 years ago. This is when Ed Zander was famously saying “What comes next? More Razrs!”

dude, if u take a look at verizon, they spilled the beans in regards to what the corporate mf’s are thinking. honestly and agressively (thats my way, and the only way) the business men of today are killing the designers. if you have a mba (masters of business administration) you have put a target on your back.

when the verizon phone is accepted from asia and sold in the US, ALL of the options (internet, im, graphics, pc connectivity) is deleted. If you pay verizon more money, they will add these features. This is a common procedure for verizon, and only NOW they are CONSIDERING stopping this by allowing other carriers phones to be supported by verizon.

unfortunately, they abviously dont care that much about the phone design.

i have seen a japanese phone identical to the iphone, … 3 yrs ago… what is left to design?

dude, you do realize your replying to months’ old topic, dontcha? trying to up your post count?


I think nokia has managed to kick some serious ____ with their new E71, ive been using it for a month now, i sold my iPhone which honestly was really not up to my standards, i HATED the iphone keyboard, and i primarily use my phone for messaging and talking. the E71 really hit the nail on the head with the keypad, its not too big that you have to use 2 hands, even though its smaller, you can clearly feel the different keys as there is a lot of tactile feedback. oh and it just looks and feels so solid, let alone it being fully loaded with functions and the slimmest QWERTY out right now :slight_smile:

I heard something about Nokia over the weekend. They are researching how people use phones around the world and are working on projects to change the way we use phones. By change, I mean doing to the cel phone what web 2.0 has done to the internet. Creating a platform for people to do creative things with.

One story I remember is that in Taiwan, the government is encouraging people to take photos of pollution on the island, then send them to the government with the GPS data. Then the government can follow up. Other ideas are about farmers sending photos of sick animals to the government to follow the spread of disease (think about bird flu) or doctors in remote regions to send photos of unique illness in humans (this SARs). This stuff could really be world changing and would leap frog Nokia when in front if they integrate it properly.

Of course, we will be jerking away with our iPhones, but the ROTW might be changed.