Monday, 6 February 2012

Dear Nokia

as a long time Nokia phone user (and IT professional) I would ask you to pull your head out of your arse and go back to doing what you did best.

Making good mobile phones!

Not screwing over your users. The following post is not for the corporate psychopaths (who have led you to ruin) but for the people (hopefully the Finnish people) who still work there and who depend on your success.

Now, don't get the idea that I (and hoards of other people out there who use Nokia phones) don't like you. Just because I'm using some harsh language here should not be interpreted as meaning that. I actually really love my Nokia phone (despite the issues).

Now I know you've been troubled by many issues lately, but I believe you've fallen into bad corporate mistakes. The deepest mistake you seem to have made is to forgo evolution for revolution. Its a snake which will (and as it seems perhaps already) bit you. Get rid of your superfluous middle managers who simply justify their positions and make money off you like parasites. Heck its arguable that almost all of management does this, so perhaps this letter will only serve to have the lower levels say "YESS" and upper management disinterested.

None the less

It is arguable that after 2 years of scattered and disjointed bug fixing that the E-Series of phones (such as the E72, E63 and perhaps the E6) have reached a pinnacle of development as mobile phones. Not tablets, not laptop substitutes, but as communications devices

I know it took you nearly 3 years (and its still not 100% right) but it is so dam close its tantalizing.

So rather than dropping everything you have to enter into the race for the consumer dollar, why not look at the data that research seems to show as important to the vast majority of phone users around the world and offer them tat.

Perhaps you have already got what is a significant portion of the market already captured and you are losing that.

Now stop for a moment and think about this (you idiots); while you may not have a massively increasing share of the market, you have almost total ownership of a very significant portion of the market.

Sometimes chasing the fickle shoal of fish which is the market can lead you astray. You may find that the shoal shifts suddenly and there you are all alone.


The success of the E-Series (despite their flaws) gives you opportunity to consolidate as a company what strengths you have and move into a better position. A position not dictated to by market fashions.

Having a look over on GSMARENA for information I discovered that the Nokia E72 still commands quite a significant amount of the site traffic. This is in itself a significant point. In a world where it seems that iPhone and Android are on everyone's lips, a phone which is now discontinued still retains such interest.

Why is it so?

Well perhaps this can be answered by GSMARENA's mobile phone survey. This picture says a thousand words

Just reflect on that above chart for a moment; it can really help you focus.

I suspect that the direction of mobile phone companies is driven by marketing wankers who focus on what reviewers (who often don't even use the phones for much more than reviewing) say rather than customers.

So, who'd have thought, voice calls, SMS, and email are among the top usages. Strangely on graphs like this one:

using WiFi ranks highly ... well perhaps that's true, but it doesn't take much of a brain to see that using WiFi is not an end in itself.

Its like using the road; you get it just to get to somewhere. So what are the users using WiFi for? I'd put forward that its to get to be able to "send email" and "use social networks"

So lets take an example of stupidity, the E72 was until recently their flagship E-series phone. Aimed at professional users many aspects of its operation are inferior to their cheaper E63. Predictive text for instance: works fantastic on the E63 but on the E72 its less than functional

  • capitalisation non functional; for instance i rather than I
  • words which contain ' do not auto correct; for instance didnt does not become didn't ... id does not correct to I'd
  • right cursor (the d navigation right) on the E72 does not take you to end of suggestion and *remaining in suggestion* (as it does on the E63), instead it selects the word. I often make use of this to complete and add words. Eg Broadband -> type broa -> right arrow now continue b and voila press space and keep working
The predective text on the E63 makes working with the tiny keyboard a breeze and allows you to type much more with less effort. Isn't that how it should be?

In contrast on the E72 I gather dozens of words in my custom dictionary ending in .


seemingly because the system is too stupid to recognise this isn't a new word but a word ending in punctuation

Sure the E72 has a killer camera, but that should be secondary to the core functions of calls, and messaging.

where to go then?

As much as this is going to hurt, pull your head out of your arrogance and listen to your customers. Regard them as clients, partners and the core of your business.

There is no end of advice on your forums which will suggest things like:
  • email which works (not one dependent on Nokia Messaging to work, at least give us the choice)
  • proper documentation (hell, even online) with no hidden features requiring websites maintained by loyal users to help us out
  • leverage off the support network (which you get for free BTW)
  • more memory (I mean come on, its pathetic on the E72 and yet the thing still works, just give it a few more meg for gods sake)
  • stop trying to be greedy bastards and let developers and the open source community allow you to build a better mousetrap
This last point is one of the things which Nokia users hate about Android or iPhone: they hate that its closed and controlled. Pick up an Android phone and read the terms and conditions you have to accept. These get more scary and draconian as time goes by. (I notice for instance that Google has stopped supporting searching on their mobile non-android calendar systems)

Noone likes this, at best they ignore it because they don't have a choice. Google and Apple get away with it for various reasons, but:
  1. noone likes them for it
  2. there isn't much choice
  3. the herd has them following without thinking
  4. they are big enough in other areas to get away with it
Perhaps only point one above applies to you Nokia.

Customers (no, not Users, you degrade and dismiss us with this corporate psycho-bullshit) and shareholders will vote with their feet (and have you seen your shares prices?) if you treat them like you have.

You can sit there in your board rooms and lament how Apple, Google and Samsung have stolen your market share, but its your arrogance which has ushered us the out the door faster.

Arrogance? Well just turn to your own forums and read how many genuine complaints there are on things like Nokia messaging and the crippling of IMAP to facilitate that (as well as other important points).

I mean really, who wants to sign their usernames and passwords over to you? How much did that nonsence cost you to set up (not to mention how much its cost you in loyalty of user base). How much trust did you loose?


You may think in the short term that you may get control of that, but face facts: you won't. Nokia will die trying to emulate MS or Google or Apple.

You already have class leading hardware (still) and whatever you say about the age and dated-ness of Symbian OS, do your target audience want 'slide and gravity' or do they use their phones for stuff? I mean read that above chart and ask yourself "who really spends time in the OS" vs "who uses the apps".

As time goes by I will add more to this blog about what I think Nokia should do to address problems in their existing line of products.

bottom line

Its not too late to turn things around. If profitablity is important, you already have the formula for producing a popular phone (if sales of E72 and E71 on ebay and E63 are anything to go by). Given that you need to do little (or none) R & D on those blocks of hardware as you have an already developed platform. If sold at the right price point would clean the floor over phones like those Alcatel and other Chinese cheapies.

Market your product better, not just sexier. Currently you ignore less sexy markets such as the slightly older demographic as well as those with vision impairment.

People who are vision impared blind can still use your qwerty keyboards but can't use a touch screen AND you already have a functional voice dialing system ... the list goes on.

I for one value your phones and see potential. A bit of a web search will yield that others see the same, and lament the loss.

So you can either disappear or you can become a strong specialised player in the market professionals choose, pick up where Blackberry failed (and don't forget your E72 already largely did that).

The balls in your court. I for one sincerely hope you have the balls to do it.

If you haven't got a clue where to start, then call me. I'm happy to come back to Finland and I can assure you I won't require as much money as your existing directors probably suck out of you

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well done,
I totally agree,
So many diabolically STUPID DECISIONS,
Up,up, up, up, then down, up, down, sideways,down,down
created a great product by evolution,
then tore its wheels off to see if it works as a slider,
and the arrogance of the E72 Firmware issues!
Nokia has almost completed its transmogrification from the very highest flying leader, to floundering lost on the bottom.
Tharsuin of Tasmania