Updated 8/16/10 via comments from kopte3 (see below, comment #1) and Snoopdarr (James Darr) on Facebook , originally published 8/11/10.
Nokia’s been on my mind non-stop for the past few days. A bunch of things have happened at once in my world revolving around Nokia and I just had to write this post.
First a quick background on me and Nokia – I’ve been a Nokia user since my very first cell phone – the Nokia 6185 for Sprint. I got this I think in 1999 or 2000 when I was a Circuit City employee. I remember there was some serious excitement for it. Since then I’ve done the 8860 (chrome phone), 8890 (brushed aluminum), 6170 (2005-2007), N79 (2007-2009), and finally, my latest, the N95 8gb. Nokia’s held a special place in my heart and I’ve always viewed their phones as the best phones out there that less and less people around me were aware of.
Now, about those events I mentioned earlier which have led to Nokia being on my mind non-stop. It started with my wife’s N82 dying for the past so many months and her wanting an iPhone. I want to stay w/ T-mobile (a whole different topic) so when a) the latest jailbreak came out and b) the used iphone 3gs market was good due to the iPhone 4’s release , I decided now was the time to replace her N82 for her. Finaly, on 8/9/10, the iPhone purchase went down, and her N82 is now sitting on my dresser. I am figuring out my next move with it (it’s camera doesn’t work properly because of flash/low battery issues -from what I’ve read this a known N82 problem-, small crack in the upper front – not on screen though, some slight dust on the screen, under the cover, and the battery barely lasts although I did order a new one via ebay that arrived a few days ago).
So that’s 1 event. Second, I saw this tweet by @janole (the developer behind the Symbian twitter app “Gravity”) and read through the link in it: “Can Nokia compete in high-end smartphone market?“. It was an article that just made Nokia’s present and future seem blah.
Third, I have always loved going to the Nokia store during my trips to Chicago and I was sure it was going to be closed after hearing about the Nokia Storeclosings. But sure enough, it was open.
I went in, played with some of the phones, and spoke with the guy there. I’ve never spoke with someone so disheartened about where they work in my life and I’m in the government. I told him I thought the stores were closing and he was saying yeah.. and that he was hoping it would happen quick – his wife or gf was in texas waiting for him. We talked about how tough it’s been there. I told him my wife was actually about to stop using her 2 year+ N82 and start using an iPhone 3gs (which I bought later that day) instead and he said “Good for you.” He said everyone there had iPhone 4. He said it wasn’t just like this here, it was like this everywhere, Nokia definitely had slipped.
That was the third event. The final event, due to some data plan confusion (will insert link on explanation of this), I’m basically in a position where I should really upgrade my N95 8gb to something else that uses T-mobile’s 3g. And in searching for a replacement phone, for the first time in… 6 years? it’s seeming like I won’t be going with a Nokia phone.
Here’s a list of things Nokia has to do. I’ve left off “make an iPhone killer” because that’s an obvious end goal. Here are the things along the way. The phone that Nokia fans are excited about right now is the N8. But there’s as much buzz on this as there is for Airbender 2. Make a killer phone is an obvious need which has a lot of factors which include luck so I’m leaving that off and making this post on everything that CAN be done. This is in no order and I’m too lazy to figure out a good order.
- Stop focusing on dumb phones
This is a shrinking market slowly on its way to be non-existent. As data becomes more prevalent, people will want better phones. And rather than cheaping out on a dumb phone, they’ll cheap out on smart phones handed down to them.
Update: Regarding this point, Kopte3 posts in the comments “That isn’t true, yet,” however, I disagree. @Snoopdarr on twitter is on my side, adding the following on Facebook regarding this: “b) NO company that makes dumbphones does smartphones well (not even motorola, sorry droid doesn’t).”
- Reduce your phone selection
So many phones were at the Chicago Flagship Nokia store. I had no idea what the hell they all were, how they were different. Apple has one phone a year in different hard drive sizes. Nobody needs this much of a selection, you’re confusing yourself, confusing us, and when you confuse us, we go with an iPhone
Update: On this point, Kopte3 posts in the comments that Nokia is already doing this. But when I was in the Nokia Store in Chicago, there were a ton of options so I’m guessing this move is recent?
- Increase Focus on America
Once upon a time, it was the rest of the world that set the trend and then America came later. Those days are over, you have to focus on us first and the rest of the world will follow.
Update: I’ve changed the title of this point from “Focus on America” to “Increase Focus on America” after reading Kopte’s point below on this. If it’s being said the focus is increasing, then I say increase it some more because I don’t think anyone else who’s not in the “Nokia-know” really has had a greater impact in their life from Nokia
- Subsidize your phones
One of the stupidest things that the people in this country do is get subsidized phones. It’s ridiculous and we pay more in the long run. Somehow, we have also allowed 2 year contracts to be acceptable. This is stupid. This is why we have ridiculous recessions, it is our nature. But it is reality and you have to work with it. I respect what you were trying to do but it doesn’t work.
Update: Snoopdarr adds that this is “100% critical in america and they’ve never figured out (carriers control retail, and you have to play nice to get shelf space, and you need an exclusive with someone!).” Kopte agrees but adds that our carriers screw up their phones so don’t do let them do that Nokia.
- T-mobile is your friend
AT&T’s with apple so make t-mobile your friend. I know there’s something going on w/ Android and T-mobile but doesn’t seem that strong.
- Advertise! And do it properly
Ask anyone in America what the iPhone does and they can tell you. Forget what they’ve learned from word of mouth, they’ve got a great grasp of what the iPhone is capable of from the commercials. I’m not exactly sure what Nokia is doing around the world but here in America, I can only recall seeing an ad for an E71 or E72 in the economist. And that’s a British publication so that shouldn’t even count. Get your name out there more and you will have to do it in creative ways. Don’t target business people in business publications, they don’t control this arena anymore. (Update: Kopte3 agrees)
- Get Apps in people’s hands
The Ovi store is a joke. The best apps for Nokia are everywhere else so focus more on just keeping a directory of what’s out there – not what’s uploaded to your server – so that we can find the apps we want through you. Worry about monetizing off of this second because if you focus first on how can you make money of the apps you have uploaded etc, you’re going to lose out on the customers that see nothing on the ovi store and move on to the next phone/platform.
- Appreciate your developers and fans
Apple likes their developers. They showed a nice big check to them at the last conference. Do you care about your developers? Doesn’t seem like you do which is a shame because the only people I hear saying good things about you are those people on obscure threads and forums that know what your products are capable of. If these people are willing to stand-up for you, appreciate them and channel their energy. let them make commercials or something – remember that iPod Touch commercial that was made by a fan? I think actually there have been more than one instances of this.
Update: Kopte3 says you guys are trying but he thinks you have the wrong approach. I’m not sure what he means on that, let’s let him elaborate on the comments.
- Get into something else also
Apple makes computers, Google software. You are only phones. figure out something else to get into – maybe go after Garmin or something. Or, if you really want to impress me, go after car GPS/sound systems. I hate that all GPS systems out there are their own and have their own plusses and minuses. Forget video games, forget tablets… get into something you can be a leader in.
Update: Kopte3 mentions some of what you’re into including Navigation. I’m more interested in car navigations, so we can have the abilities to have more control on features on there. But whatever else, that’s fine too.
- Find the next thing and lead it.. or, invent it yourself
Blackberries took off by leading the wave on e-mailing on the go. No one else was tackling (focusing on?) it like they were. But, E-mails are extremely inefficient. Way too many people live out of their inbox and it’s a terrible way to do things. The future is something else. Figure it out and be the leader in it. Who cares if it seems ridiculous, figure out something good and be the leader in it – nothing is more ridiculous sounding right now than 140 limit messages on what you’re doing. The world’s crazy so you need to be crazy too.
Update: Kopte3 mentions your huge R&D and it’s not so much product innovation I am pointing out here, I’m talking about something people are doing.
- Put a face on your company
I know who founded and runs apple. I know who founded and runs Google. I know who founded Microsoft and who runs Microsoft. I have no idea who’s behind Nokia. I have no idea who founded Nokia. I don’t know Nokia’s story – I know every other company’s story. I know Facebook’s story. For some reason, we as a people need a celebrity leader for this business. I don’t know why but we do so get someone charismatic to run things and be the face of Nokia. (How about me? I do stand-up and I’m weeks away from my MBA (from Maryland’s Smith school). (Kopte3 completely agrees – about needing the proper spokesperson – not me for it.. well he hasn’t said no to me, he just didn’t comment on that part)
- Be a mini computer properly
Be computer oriented. I hate the fact that I can’t sync properly with my Mac and that I have random BS software that I have to use to sync w/ a windows comp. Use what’s already on the computer – or have minimum add ons- and sync properly. There is still a problematic sync for me to use my N95 8gb w/ my Mac regarding calendar, moviing pictures ( they aren’t deleted properly), etc (Kopte3 says you’re trying but you have to try harder because there is still a disconnect between my mobile world and my computer world)