Posted by: Lee | July 4, 2010

Dear Nokia

Introduction

As one typically does at 3am on a Sunday morning, I thought I’d dispense some advice to Nokia.

Now, before I continue lets set some things straight. I’d like to point out that I’m by no means an expert on the mobile industry, I’m purely a tech enthusiast observing from the outside looking in. I’m quite open minded and I’m not particularly religious but like to think I subscribe to the “Church of the Bleeding Obvious” i.e. common sense tends to prevail in my world . I’ve been using Nokias as my main phone for many years, but have now switched to Android (HTC Desire), I’ve also dabbled with Sony Ericsson and currently have a Windows Mobile phone as well (I will shortly have a Blackberry Bold 9700 too). I can see the merits of the iPhone and it’s eco system for some, for me personally I choose not use that platform as I like the freedom to think for myself (get me and the controversial lines).

Right, so why have I moved away from Nokia? Two reasons really, number one is of course the phones and the second is OVI. I shall elaborate.

Reason 1 for Leaving Nokia – The Phones

So for years Nokia was at the cutting edge of mobile devices, we all waited with baited breadth for their latest miracle device with more features crammed in than you could possibly imagine. Symbian Series 60 was introduced as the OS for these devices in 2002. Now Fast Forward to 2009 and the last Nokia flagship device…the N97. It was promoted as the uber phone, an iPhone killer, touch screen, 32GB of storage, Sat Nav etc etc. Brilliant we all thought, and then the N97 turned up at my door, crushing sinking dissapointment. Yes at the time I said I loved it, but it was more loving it for being my new toy than loving the device itself. I tried to love it I really did but 7 years after S60 was released the latest flagship was still running an iteration of this now very old OS, the new botched touch screen version of it. Also in the day and age of fast processors, masses of storage, dirt cheap memory and mobile apps the flagship had a 434mhz processor, 128mb of RAM and 60mb of internal storage…….seriously Nokia what the hell were you thinking?

The N97 really burned me, the OS was archaic and the hardware outdated before it was even released (To be fair it might have been cutting edge when it was originally announced which was about 100 years before it was released). Yes the hardware requirements could run the OS without problem but the minute you started to install and runs any apps you hit problems which kinda defeated the object of a smart phone.

Nokia was no longer producing cutting edge devices. Yes it tried to fix things by producing the N97 Mini and rushing out the N900 but neither device was amazing. The Mini was still slow and the N900 was more of a test bed “look what we’re working on” device.

In the mean time devices running Android were starting to become more and more sophisticated and sleek starting with the Nexus One (1ghz processor and 512mb of RAM) and because these Android devices like Nokia were open they were very tempting. The release of the HTC Desire was the final straw, it was the Nexus One re-packaged with HTCs sleek Sense UI on top and even more RAM (576MB). The Desire made the N97 look like a sloth.

Reason 2 – OVI (Nokia Services)

Ovi, Ovi, Ovi, where to start, OVI is a group of disjointed, developed completely separate from each other services and I hate it. Most people in the internet world exist in at least one of these environments, Google, Windows Live, Yahoo, Facebook. The common sense approach would be to develop a set of services for Nokia phones which could plug into these services. Of course Nokia did not take this approach, they decided to create their own services in OVI. Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Store. I had contacts, calendar and mail in Google, why would I possibly want to use the far more immature limited OVI services that didn’t even integrate with each other i.e. why re-invent the bloody wheel?? OVI Contacts sync was an embarrassment, you had to manually initiate it on the phone and it always created duplicates. OVI Contacts and OVI Mail were completely separate in that you had to create your contacts in both services, granted this has been fixed but why wasn’t it like that in the first place?

Yes there is the Nokia Messaging app which is very good for email but is yet another example of a Nokia service being developed separately, it’s not an OVI service yet is a service from Nokia and the app is different across phones. There is no consistency.

When you compare the integration experience of the N97 to the Desire there is no comparison. On my Desire, out of the box there is instant google contact and mail sync between my device and the cloud. Facebook contacts are synchronised to my address book and linked to existing google contacts so that only one entry is displayed per person. With Windows Live adding exchange connectivity I could have the same integrated experience using that as well.

It is possible to set up sync of Google and soon Windows Live using Mail for Exchange (MfE) on the N97 but for some reason there is no HTML support for email in Mail for Exchange on the N97 (there is on the E Series, yet more inconsistency) so you have to set contacts and calendar sync up in MfE then email in Nokia Messaging and only a techie could do this due to the messing required. On the Desire you just tap in your email address and password and bingo, away you go.

As you can now no doubt tell I have immense frustration with the Nokia/OVI world.

Dear Nokia – The Advice

Nokia, if you have read the above you will be able to tell that my experience with present day Nokia is full of frustration. It is tales of underpowered hardware, out of date software and disjointed services. This can’t go on, you need to act fast or you will be left even further behind. I get that you operate in different target markets with different requirements but I really think you should do the following:

  1. C and E Series phones should be a single variant of Symbian. No repeat of S40, S60 and the stupid feature pack 1 and 2 rubbish. One strand of Symbian which is componentised if needed so you can control the relative features for each product line.
  2. C and E series phones should be developed together by the same teams which should also develop Symbian for them as well to allow consistency
  3. N Series should be Meego only, there should be no Symbian in the N Series line.
  4. N Series should be its own entity in which the devices and Meego are developed together this allows cutting edge devices to be developed which have an OS which supports and takes advantage of all the hardwares features from day one
  5. Learn how to market. Stop announcing products 6 months in advance, the consumer gets bored with waiting. Most people have lost interest in the N8 as it’s been so long. Products should not be announced until they’re almost ready to ship.
  6. Realise cutting edge should be cutting edge. If your latest high end device has less memory or slower CPU than existing devices then it’s not cutting edge (N97???)
  7. Sort your services out, OVI is a mess, a real mess. It might work well in emerging markets for email etc but in the established markets it’s terrible. Consumers want an integrated seemless experience with whatever online service they use (yes it’s ok to focus on the main ones, Google, Windows Live, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter etc)
  8. Sort out the OVI store, it lacks basic features like telling you when an update is available.
  9. Realise it’s not just about Carl Zeiss Lenses or Ovi Maps Sat Nav, it’s about the whole experience. We are living in world where most things are in the cloud, consumers who buy smart phones want to be able to see the same info across multiple devices not just take great pictures.

I really do hope Nokia sort themselves out, they used to be revolutionary……..sadly at the moment the revolutions are now happening elsewhere. Now I must go to bed.

Lee

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Responses

  1. very well written, i strongly agree with your point of view. I was always a Nokia fan, until i experienced N97 – the worst phone I’ve ever had. I have moved on to HTC Desire 🙂


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