I read a response to a Phorbes analysis on What’s wrong with Nokia by C-M Dumell and another one here. Basically Forbes have a crappy text saying that Nokia doesn’t Innovate which Apple does and then goes to shoot themselves in the foot (repeatedly) by saying stupid things they got wrong.
Or so i think. I didn’t read the article (that never stopped me from opening my mouth anyway). But it got me to write this, which i’ve been thinking about for a long time. And it boils down to what i’ve been thinking about Nokia and yet never whould have believed to actually be true, which is the following statement from Tomi Ahonen:
Innovation has nothing to do with usability.
This, pretty much encompasses half of the problem. It is horribly narrow-sighted.
The other half of the problem is manifested in statements from Colin Gillis from Brigantine Advisors in New York, like
They’re [Nokia are] going to need the types of devices that people can use to download applications and the kind of devices that people can be interactive with, the types of devices we’re seeing out of Apple.
I find it bemusing to listen to podcasts and reviews about what smart phone computing should be in the future when all these features have existed for i don’t know how long on handsets i’ve been using for ages. Like the noveau ability to add applications to your phone. Yee-haw. I had this with the “Fisher-price” 3650 (and yes, it was blue). It’s practically been a requirement for me since. And that applications should be easily accessible through application stores and installable over the air. We had the old-skool Nokia OVI long before Apple got their App store. Sure, Apple got the touch screen first, but Nokia got GPS, VoIP, WLAN, 3G, MMS, multitasking, PC synchronization, Exchange synchronization, cut-and-paste, a media player, “tethering” so i can use it to connect to the Internet, and user-replaceable batteries before Apple (and a few other gadgets like a flashlight, a golf stroke analysator and a bike computer, just to show off).
What Nokia doesn’t have is proper usability, sexiness and bling. The S60 UI on my phone is ugly, clunky, bulky, boxy, and just plain out of fashion. No, i change that. It never was in fashion, or if it truly was, i don’t remember when it was. Perhaps in 2003 when i got that 3650 phone.
Nokia smart phones seem like command line UNIX. You can do anything with two character commands, a heap of obscure switches and a set of pipes… if you can. iPhones on the other hand go well in cocktail lounges with long drinks, soft jazz and indirect, blue light. There’s very little jazz and overpriced mojito in an E90 Communicator. Also, Nokia has more phone models on market that i can comfortably fathom and Apple has, uh, two. Truly, i think this goes in Apple’s advantage. It makes communication so much easier if you can focus on just one thing. Which is the other thing Nokia must have got wrong.
How can it be that Nokia has had all these features out forever and ever amen but when Apple (finally) releases a product with these features, the assembled congregation applaudes the Church of Jobs with standing ovations? Because of the delivery. Apple has an uncanny ability to present their stuff so that everybody listens and think that what they hear is cool. Because it is. Nokia would really benefit from a Steve Jobs or a Barack Obama who can take the stage and make the people go “ooooh, that’s niiiiiiiice”. Nokias press events are pale stuttering men delivering epic epistles of boredom in tankero englis. Listen to Nokia’s The way we live next podcasts, you’ll see what i mean. I too subscribe to that podcast, but it’s not because of the presentation. It’s despite it (oh that’s right, Nokia also got podcast deliveries over the air to the device before Apple). The lack in presentation horribly overshadows the usefulness of the content. There’s this small company run by some friends of mine. They are excellent programmers. They have some excellent products. They are really nice guys. They just don’t know how to sell it. In the mega league, that’s Nokia when compared to Apple.
Nokia phones look and feel like they are innovated by a happy cadre of engineers. A happy cadre of engineers can take you to the moon and back, but they sure aren’t sexy. At the same time, i would not trade in my E90 for an iPhone. Not with their respective current feature sets. But i would appreciate my Communicator with iPhone’s looks, schwing and usabililty.