Oh my gosh. I hadn't even thought of the 'obvious' follow-up to my gripes about Nokia and what happened to it, with the catastrophic market share crash, that there should be a final piece to this series of blog articles - what would I recommend.
Fair. On this blog I've advised Motorola when it was in trouble (they didn't listen). I have advised Microsoft when they were messing it up in mobile (they didn't listen). I told Apple how to grow their market share (they didn't listen) and of course, as I write this blog about how to restore Nokia's brand and loyalty, I know (they won't listen). But its my blog.. I have seen that from time to time, a rival of one of those had listened and done pretty well actually, so perhaps while I write about Nokia, someone at say SonyEricsson or RIM or LG or maybe Samsung will listen haha, and make use of my free advice.
But to be clear, this is a very long, meandering, at times petty details type of blog. My thoughts if I was in charge of Nokia handsets, both smartphones and dumbphones. It is probably not of interest to all who visit the blog, so I have divided the blog into this short top section and the longer full blog after the division here. The full blog would take you more than half an hour to read so unless you really want the nitty gritty about the Finnish phone maker and ideas of how it might make a come-back, don't bother reading it. It gets quite far from the main areas of our blog here. But some of my readers asked for my ideas. Well you know, if I start, it won't be brief..
The short blog version of what Nokia should do is: use its competitive strengths, understand its primary customers (carriers/operators) and help them; rebuild trust with loyal Nokia end-users; make Nokia a desired brand again; offer some true flagships in showcase phones utterly different from the iPhone - and clearly far more expensive; return to flooding the market with a wide range of products; and create a youth brand. Plus obviously fix some of the blatant errors that have crept into their product design philosophies. I will go through all of those in the story here below. But I am convinced that Nokia is very strong, if it used its strengths and stops with its obsession of iPhone envy, and returns to the front of the industry to show true leadership - and puts customer needs first, and end-user needs ahead of Nokia accounting and engineering obsessions, they could easily reverse the market share decline and grow profits in the process. To make bold changes would require a CEO who has a mandate for change, and would ideally require a CEO who is not traditional Nokia management - in fact a non-Finn if that was conceivable.. wait, thats exactly what they have in Stephen Elop haha.. This is their chance. Lets see what Mr Elop tells us in a few days.
So Tomi's advice to Nokia here below after the link
So the facts. Nokia's market share is in death-spiral, crashed from 39% to 28% in just six months and warnings from management suggest Q1 will continue the bad news, so it may end somewhere near 24% by end of March and who knows where the bottom is. Motorola was in a similar position in 2006. They had 21% market share. The crash-dive started, Motorola went from very profitable to very unprofitable, and lost customers everywhere, and the blood-letting ended in 2010 when they managed to stop the decline - and found themselves with 2% of the market. It is very nasty when the market share starts to slip away from you.
But Nokia is not in trouble. Honestly. They are a very robust company, profitable, with massive market dominant positions in dumbphones and smartphones, as big as their nearest two rivals added together in both categories. Nokia have tons of great assets and a rich heritage and great staff. But they have lost their way recently and need to make some corrections to their ways. Much of the correction is internal management stuff. I hear from my moles that Nokia went from encouraging innovation and experimentation to a stiffling culture of all managers are paranoid about making any mistake. The organization is mired in bureaucracy and somehow the accountants seem to have taken control where often just random bad decisions driven by engineering have been replaced by truly moronic systematically counter-productive decisions when led by the accountants. These have to be changed. I couldn't possibly even suggest where the problem areas are, internally. I just hear gossip about them..
Then the obvious caveat. I am not a 'mobile phone handset guy' (really?) yes. My core competence is not smartphones or dumbphones or handsets. It is the 'services' and applications of mobile, where this industry makes most of its money. So my core competence is how the operators/carriers make their money with SMS, MMS, voice calls, mobile content like music, games, news; mobile telematics, mobile money, mobile advertising etc. That is my core competence. I really am not a phone designer like say Christian Lindholm or Jan Chipchase. I am not a user interface designer or operating software designer either. So I am honestly not the best person to write this blog - but I am an opinionated guy and I do have lots of thoughts on this subject.
And its literally ten years since I left Nokia HQ and started my own consultancy. I may have had some insights into Nokia markets and products and customers and end-users way back then, but not anymore. As I now live here in Hong Kong, we do not have a very 'typical' market, so I am not even exposed to all Nokia phone models here etc. I can make observations and educated guesses, but this blog will by necessity be incomplete. I am not enough of an expert. And one should do a deep analysis of Nokia market segments, customers, end-users, competitor products, product portfolio offerings, marketing activities etc etc etc, by each segment. That would be impossible within one blog article. But let me try (haha).
WHAT IS NOT WRONG
So, first very quickly. Many are begging Nokia to abandon Symbian and join Android or Phone 7. No! Nokia has the best strategy of any major handset maker. They are not executing it perfectly but they have the best strategy. Remember, Nokia's primary rival is not Apple or RIM or HTC, it is Samsung. Even LG, Motorola, SonyEricsson and ZTE are not in the same ballpark, because they have already abdicated the control of their destiny in the migration to smartphones, by not owning their own smartphone OS. They are now wholly dependent on the whims of Google (Android) and/or Microsoft (Phone 7). Only Nokia and Samsung have their own OS and have full control of their destiny, among major dumbphone makers who have to migrate their giant customer bases to smartphones in this decade. Apple, RIM and HTC are tiny in handset makers who only make smartphones compared to these two giants. Apple sold 47 million phones last year. Nokia sells 47 million phones every 6 weeks.. Nokia and Samsung are the equivalents of Toyota and Ford in cars, Apple, RIM and HTC are the equivalents of Porsche and BMW in cars. Toyota and Ford make family cars, city cars, taxis, off-road vehicles, pick-up trucks, vans AND sports cars and luxury cars. Porsche makes essentially only sports and sporty cars (iPhone), BMW makes mostly sporty and luxury cars (RIM, HTC). So we cannot compare the vehicle strategy of Toyota to Porsche, we need to compare it to that of Ford (and GM and Renault-Nissan, and Volkswagen Group). And in phones, among big phone makers, Nokia's smartphone strategy is the best in the business.
Nokia owns Symbian. Nokia knows Symbian is not long-term viable, so Nokia is well along in finishing its replacement, a Linux based, open source operating system called MeeGo (open source Linux based like Android, unlike Apple iOS and unlike Microsoft Phone 7) which Nokia is co-developing with Intel. They have a family of manufacturers already committed to MeeGo. Nokia has spent considerable resources, funds, time and effort to build a migration path to help its developers go from Symbian to MeeGo without wasting effort, via a development tool called Qt. And Nokia set up the Ovi store to sell apps and content for Symbian and MeeGo and even simpler Nokia phones using the S40 operating system. This is not the cheapest strategy, but it is the best strategy for Nokia phone users, for Nokia developers and for Nokia itself. There is no way they abandon this. Nokia's probems with Symbian and MeeGo are not in the strategy, the problems have been in the execution. If Nokia were to suddenly change to Android or Phone 7, they would destroy their competitive advantage of the best strategy - cause years of turmoil in managing the un-anticipated dramatic change - while continuing with all the real problems that caused the current pain - the problems in execution! If execution for Nokia was a problem today with familiar Symbian, how much worse would execution be with a totally new operating system where Nokia would suddenly have no control at all in the OS? Totally impractical idea.
ENGINEERS ARE LIKE CHILDREN
What would I tell new CEO Stephen Elop? Well, like all market share races, it boils down to marketing (you cannot gain customer satisfaction if the company is run by the accountants) and in all engineering-oriented companies like Nokia, that is pain to every meaningful senior manager. They loved their engineering studies and hated their business classes. Most Nokia senior executives would have a hard time explaining the theory of segmentation well enough to earn a B grade at an MBA level Basics of Marketing course in any major US university, haha. I am serious, you can trust Nokia execs to know their engineering inside out - and thats good at a handset manufacturer, but some of them should be strong in marketing, and unfortunately, Nokia has been mostly expelling any competent marketing people. It has some, but they are a tiny group of bandits who keep up the good fight (my best to you guys, keep it up! I know its hard..)
But at least any North American trained executive like Stephen Elop knows, that all modern successful marketing can be boiled down to segmentation. That segmentation is the way to tailor our offering to intended customers, away from competitors. Segmentation is the way to create better customer satisfaction and loyalty; and that only through segmentation can we can get more money from our customers, thus we improve our profitability. This Mr Elop will understand instinctively.
And the first lesson out of this blog, is that none - I really mean none (with all due respect to the grand old man Jorma Ollila, Chairman, but he will immediately admit himself, that he is not a marketing man himself) - yes none - of the Board Members or Senior Executives at Nokia HQ understand segmentation well enough. Some will barely understand the basics of marketing, none to the level of comprehending the value and use of segmentation.Nokia is an engineering company through and through. Many of its moronic decisions relating to markets and customers and products and marketing - have been because of the engineering mindset
But yes lets go to segmentation. I happen to know a bit about this topic too - as I was Nokia's first segmentation manager haha.
HOW NOT TO WIN, FROM MILITARY HISTORY
I apologize for another military history lesson, but if we get to the real guts of it, many market share 'battles' do have very much in common with strategems used in war, but luckily with far less of the blood, explosions and the dying. Still, most successful marketing managers have read Sun Tsu at some point in their education and understand such basic elements of warfare as surprise attacks, misdirection, studying the battlefield, knowing the enemy etc.
So a brief example of the right and wrong way to fight in smartphones. Remember the Second World War. The USA was not in the war yet, Japan had been fighting in China for years even before Hitler invaded Poland. Then on one December morning Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, sunk much of the US Pacific fleet and the USA found itself at war against the Japanese empire. The USA sent troops to fight the Japanese on several fronts, from the army fighting ground and jungle wars in the Philippines and China, to the navy facing off against the Japanese navy all over the biggest ocean, the Pacific.
The USA sent ground troops and air force planes to support China's army, led by Chiang Kai-shek. The USA supported him throughout the war. The USA could have used its big army to fight the Japanese from the West, with China, on the ground, and battled the entrenched Japanese army across China. That would have been enormously costly, and the USA would have been at a huge disadvantage - all troops would have been sent half-way around the planet to get to the Chinese theater, supported at enormous distances, and the Japanese held most of the advantages in jungle war, experienced and correctly trained and equipped for that kind of warfare, having fought in China for years already.
The alternative was to use the USA's natural strength, a larger navy and more aircraft-carriers, and engage the Japanese in battle at sea, taking the islands in the Pacific, one by one. In such sea-battles, the US Navy could cut off Japanese supply lines and strangle and starve Japanese island fortifications. The USA knew it had a real measured advantage at sea, and it would be far easier to fight the war against Japan's navy on the seas, than against Japan's land army in China.
This is what Nokia needs to do. It has huge competitive advantages (several in fact) that it has used in the past, but over the past few years, for some inexplicable reasons (led by engineers and/or accountants), Nokia has been abandoning its natural competitive advantages, and been mesmerized by the iPhone, and suddenly tried to match Apple on Apple's turf. This is like the USA knew it has the bigger navy, and that its harder to go fight the Japanese in the jungles of China - and then say, lets not use our navy.. Idiotic!
So one very simple example. Before the iPhone came in 2007, in 2006, Nokia's flagship phone was the N93. That phone cost 1,200 dollars (without subsidy) and was of course a full smartphone. Apple's fancy touch screen iPhone (2G) came in 2007 and was sold for 599 dollars in the USA (with contract). It wasn't even a proper smartphone at the time, it was classified as a featurephone (only the iPhone 3G was Apple's first true smartphone). The N93 was more-or-less twice as heavy and twice the size of the iPhone (twice as 'thick'). What is Nokia's flagship at the end of 2010? It is an iPhone clone, near identical super-slim size, that costs about 500 dollars! What the h*ll happened? Its like Mercedes Benz seeing a Porsche for the first time, and noticing the automotive press like the little two-door sportscar - and suddenly Mercedes Benz stops the production of all four-door models, and only making MB 2 door sportscars! Sheer lunacy!
There is nothing wrong with Nokia producing its own iPhone clone (what we now have in the N8) but Nokia has played this card so wrong in so many ways (I'll talk about the iPhone later). But first, Nokia is the biggest player in the industry. Nokia sets the stage. Nokia doesn't follow Apple. Nokia leads, and Apple follows. In fact, looking at all 15 changes done by Apple in the iPhone since iPhone 2G to iPhone 4 - every single 'improvement' in the iPhone matched something Nokia had done before - and 14 of those changes Nokia had in production on its top phones before the original iPhone launched. It is very literally true, that Apple is simply ape-ing Nokia, and to see what the next iPhone will have, you go back to old Nokia phones. Nokia has nothing to be ashamed about, and it needs to return to the lead, and it needs to be very proud of the fact that Apple is continuously following Nokia - in fact Nokia should make a lot of noise every time Apple copies Nokia innovations haha.. But yeah, lets get to the way I would advise Nokia today. Nokia needs to play to its strengths - and absolutely definitely - wherever Nokia holds a competitive advantage - it cannot voluntarily abandon that advantage! That is madness!
CUSTOMER OR END-USER
So, first. Nokia HQ knows this very well but most of my readers will not automatically think of this. Nokia's customer is not you and me. We, consumers, are "end-users" but Nokia does not sell directly to us (in 95% of the time). Nokia's 'customers' are mobile operators/carriers like Vodafone, AT&T, China Mobile etc; and the mobile phone dealers like Carphone Warehouse and various electronics stores like Radio Shack. That is Nokia's customer. We the consumers are one of two primary types of end-users, the other being business phone users (enterprise customers).
This makes for a big conflict of interest, that hampers Nokia far more than most of its rivals. Let me show by example. Most who learn that there are 'dual SIM card' phones made by Nokia, will remark - why don't we have them in my country! Ha, good point. Nokia would love to sell them in your country but in most countries, the mobile operators/carriers will not want dual SIM card phones in their country, because the carriers fear that this will promote customer promiscuity (ie reduce customer loyalty to the operator/carrier). Now, for many US consumers, please just skip this part, I know most US consumers have no real need for SIM cards, because the carriers are so abusive, they lock your phones and the CDMA networks in America don't even use SIM cards.
So, Nokia has this dual SIM feature on several phones, it sells them for example in India and many countries in Africa (and here in Hong Kong) and consumers would love the feature - ie would love Nokia phones more - but the operators - Nokia's actual customers - hate it and 'forbid' Nokia from offering the feature in their countries. This is a pattern. Same was true of WiFi in the past for example. But the point is, that Nokia has to manage a delicate 'dance' between what consumers want, and what the carriers/operators are willing to support. And why Nokia worse than rivals - because Nokia is biggest, so the operators/carriers are more willing to let one of the smaller handset makers offer a given innovation that they don't particularly like, before they allow Nokia to do so.
For the purposes of this blog, whenever I say customer, I do mean operator/carrier and/or retail outlet like mobile phone store or electronics store. And I try to remember to say end-user or consumer or business phone customer for what we normally think of the end-user like you and me. So back to Nokia, what Nokia has to do, is obviously segment its customer base - in countries where most phones are sold with handset subsidies, and through carrier/operator stores, on 2 year annual contracts - like the USA - are very different markets than those where the customer is almost exclusively the independent handset retailer, where the carriers have no subsidies, and most phones are sold on pre-paid contracts like Indonesia. The needs of the customer are different - the US carrier will expect to handle most phone-related help desk phone calls, in its calling center, but in Indonesia the retailers will not have calling center support for phone problems and Nokia would need to provide far more after-sales support on-site.
Similarly an operator who is the former national monopoly like say Orange ie France Telecom, will tend to operate both the fixed landline network and the mobile network. These operators tend to be very willing to build 'fixed-mobile' solutions, such as home pico-cells and offer WiFi access at home, to unload network traffic. But a pure mobile operator, like say Three the pure 3G operators of the Hutchison Group in many countries, would try to offer pure mobile technology solutions and not want to try to offer fixed line based solutions. What role the WiFi on the Nokia phone and its connectivity will play, depends again a lot on the type of customer.
SMS IS ADDICTIVE
So lets get to the ideas. First, about those customers, mobile operators and carriers. In most countries, SMS text messaging delivers half of the operator profit. Half. Of the Profit. I didn't say revenue, I said profit. Half. Nothing is more important to a mobile operator business and bottom line, than SMS text messaging. Not even voice calls. The correctly configured networks are designed so that everything else will fail before SMS goes down and all SMS are delivered instantly no matter what load. Half of the total profit is SMS.
We know that all phones on the planet can use SMS, and alredy 81% of all mobile phone subscribers are active users of SMS. With 4.2 Billion users it dwarfs just about everything from television to internet to email to social networking like Facebook. That is all fine. Now the astonishing part - SMS is proven to be addictive, in university studies from Belgium to Australia. That is no secret. But SMS is found to be as addictive as cigarette smoking. This is why SMS keeps growing dramatically. One quarter of European mobile phone owners send 100 SMS every day, and 10% of American cellphone owners tap out 100 SMS daily.
Now the part where Nokia lost the plot. Nokia was literally the first handset maker to discover this fact, that SMS is addictive, years before the university studies verified it in laboratory studies. How do I know this? Because it was my department who commissioned the study, the famous Nokia Messaging Study, a global consumer-survey of 10,500 interviews in six countries across 4 continents, that was released to the public in October of 2001. Nokia has known for 10 years that the most powerful and craving-generating, addictive, loyalty-creating service that the industry has - is SMS text messaging. And by accident, at the time in 2001, Nokia branded phones tended to be clearly the most user-friendly at SMS text messaging. They still tend to be today, among the most user-friendly at SMS.
Now, if you are the management of the company, that first discovered that one out of the hundreds of services that phones are used for, is actually addictive - then the one rule you institute in the company - as an unbreakable rule - is that every single phone you ever release from that point, has to be excellent at SMS text messaging. Every one of them. Never ever ever allow any phone to be released that compromises this function, in the slightest degree. Never add clumsy extra questions in menus to interrupt the rapid flow of SMS. And every generation of keyboards, keypads and touch screens, need to be better than before, at SMS. And obviously, each phone needs to be internally benchmarked on SMS, and compared to rivals, and no phone ever released that fails some minimum benchmark level which is above the industry average.
This is basic end-user loyalty stuff. If you are a whisky distillery or sell cognac or vodka, and you know alcohol is addictive, the one ingredient you will not eliminate from your product (as long as its legal to do so) is alcohol! Imagine if we found that speed is addictive to driving, and we are BMW, we don't release cars that seem slow to drive. If we sell the BMW as the 'ultimate driving machine' we don't suddenly play with the pedals, shifting their order, so the brake pedal is now where the gas pedal usually is. We don't play with the steering wheel to make the BMW 'worse to drive'!!!!! So back to the facts. SMS is proven in university studies now to be addictive. Not music on phones or the camera or internet access or application downloads. SMS only. And as addictive as cigarette smoking. And vast segments of the population - soon it will be a billion people - send 100 SMS per day! Per day!
That was end-user understanding, that was not the customer. Now the really heart-breaking part. SMS delivers half of the operator profits. And most operators/carriers tend to know, that Nokia phones tend to have better customer satisfaction relating to SMS. So Nokia has almost the best possible position to capitalize on this insight and this (by accident) Nokia design strength. And yet - Nokia has never NEVER prioritized SMS in any of its phones as a strategic element. It - and only SMS - delivers half of the profits - not revenues - profits of Nokia's customers, the operators/carriers. The operators/carriers often KNOW that Nokia phones tend to have high usability on SMS and some operators who have measured it, know that Nokia branded phones score very highly among the most active SMS users. But does Nokia bother about this? No. Look at the N82. A magnificent cameraphone from three years ago (that was the first Nokia cameraphone with Xenon flash). It has a T9 keypad as most phones still do - but what tiny ridiculous keys!
Some idiot engineer middle manager allowed the designer the narcissism of good-looking 'design' at the expense not of 'function' but of SMS. That is criminal. Nokia is full of this, all the time. Try texting on the N97, for a QWERTY keyboard, it is the poorest Nokia has ever released, even worse than the notoriously bad main keyboard on the 9300 Communicator - where most heavy users of SMS would use the T9 secondary keypad rather than the QWERTY haha, it was that bad
There is nothing wrong in design. There is nothing wrong with form. But it cannot come at the expense of SMS. Not if SMS is addictive (habit-forming, this means loyalty-forming) and if SMS generates half of the profits for the operators ie Nokia's primary customers. So the first rule Stephen Elop needs to install, is the golden rule of SMS. Nokia is the world's best phone at SMS, it is that way by accident but it is so. Now it must remain best at SMS, now systematically, by design. SMS is far more important to Nokia's loyalty than Ovi or Symbian or MeeGo or touch screens, cameras, fancy form factors.
My advice on SMS is wide and thorough. First, every current phone needs an internal SMS benchmark - send a batch of all current phone models to Mob4Hire and have them mass-tested by a bunch of teenagers, won't cost much, you get a standard internal score. Which phone is 5 stars for SMS, which is 2 stars, and so forth.
Because SMS is addictive (reminder to engineers - this means loyalty to Nokia and it means many customers are willing to pay more for such a phone from Nokia that is clearly better at SMS) and it drives half of operator profits - once Nokia has identified which of its own current models are exceptionally good at SMS, then why not give them a special rating. Label them as T models. Like BMW sells its M series of cars as the performance cars ie the M3 and the M5 and M7. So Nokia might add the T label in the box and marketing materials (but not formal model name) so lets assume the E7 will be good at SMS, Nokia's E7 package would list it from all sides as E7 (T). And then in small print several times around the box, the T indication is clarified as 'Texting speed certified phone' or whatever marketing gimmick something like that.
Now, any sales guy in any store anywhere on the planet, will love this. They have a hard time enough selling standard modern phones. They can easily sell the big-screen touch-screen smartphones - but smartphones are only 25% of all new phones sold. What about those other 75% of customers? This T-rating would greatly help sell in very many cases (remember, 81% of all consumers on the planet use SMS already) So when the salesguy in the store sees any young adult or teenager walk into the store, ask them if they like to SMS a lot, and if so, ha! Show them the right T model in the price range they want. As it happens, these are all Nokia phones haha..
Meanwhile, Nokia account reps talking to carrier/operator buyers, make a big deal about their T-ratings and show benchmark tests - run by for example did I mention, Mob4Hire - and show the texting speeds of the top T-line Nokia phones against the average LG and Motorola and Samsung and SonyEricssson etc phones. And then of course remind the carriers/operators - "SMS is your profits, that is why we (Nokia) do this, we help you sell the phones that are best at SMS..."
Hello? Is this rocket science? No! What kills me is that Nokia had that study in 2001, years, literally years, before the university studies said the same. Why this is not Nokia common practise escapes me, but anyone with half an ounce of marketing skills understands that the youth market preference is what you want, and if they send 100 SMS per month and your phones already are good at SMS, you never ever EVER jeopardize SMS ability - on the contrary - you keep pushing your designers to make Nokia phones ever better at SMS. When Blackberry became the youth's preferred phone - then every E-Series keyboard! not cheap, not flimsy, not clumsy, not too cluttered. Benchmark against Blackberry keyboard on SMS use - and don't release ANY E-series that is worse than Blackberry. If it means 50 euro cents for better key mat, so be it. This is the decision criterion for the youth segment - and did I say Addictive (engineers - that means loyalty) and it means half of operator profits.
And obviously, from now on, every poorly performing SMS phone - yes in every price range - must get an immediate re-design and if its T-Score cannot be improved, terminate the phone model and replace it. Often it is minor re-organization of keys, or slightly bigger keys, or slightly more key movement and tactile response etc. What Nokia has been victim of, recently is silly cost-cutting. Where you cannot cut costs is SMS. Grandmoms send SMS to their grandkids. This goes right across the planet and all age groups from the richest to the poorest. And SMS is addictive and SMS brings half of operator profits. Even Americans love SMS - 72% of American cellphone owners now send SMS said Pew. 89% of Europeans send SMS, 90% of Chinese, and globally the average is 81% of the population. And a large share of the youth and young adults send 100 SMS per day. Addictive. Loyalty from the end-user. Profits! The love of the carriers.
Then Nokia needs to get involved with the most visible SMS activity on the planet - sponsor the Idols TV format (American Idol, X-Factor, Australian Idol, Deutschland Sucht Der Superstar, Neuvelle Star, etc..) and all its clones and other music voting shows like Eurovision song contest. Run parallel texting contests with themes linked to the show (with permission) and award tons of the newest coolest Nokia phones (T-Models).
I cannot understand what compells carriers/operators to promote the iPhone (or any Android phone that is only touch screen without QWERTY) - which is not as good at SMS, but creates tons of data downloads that cripple networks - ahead of Blackberries and Nokia E-Series that are preferred by SMS users and increase operator/carrier profits needing no network upgrades. There is a disconnect here, and Nokia needs first the internal numbers and facts, and then just remind their customers - the operators/carriers - especially their CEOs and CFOs, that if phone brand X promotes more use of SMS, and as SMS is half of all profits - then that brand phone is what all sales reps must push in all stores - that is not operator traffic or operator revenues, it is operator profits! Pure bottom line profit.
(This is what I advised Motorola, would have saved them.. - the world added more than a Billion new SMS users since I wrote that blog. Motorola sells under 40 million phones annually. If they created a few good SMS phones it would have been far cheaper than the expensive smartphones they developed. If Motorola just grabbed 1% of the new SMS users, Motorola would not be 9th biggest phone maker today, they would be in the Top 5. And if Motorola did a decent job, and grabbed just 3% of only the new SMS users, they'd now be back to number 3 among mobile phone makers and would have returned to profits a long time ago. But yeah, what do I know..)
So then some more engineering idiocy or accounting madness. A little while ago maybe it was in 2009, Nokia announced a strange decision - they would be reducing their product portfolio. This is again sheer madness. Nokia has a unique strength - its scale. Nokia has the biggest phone manufacturing capacity (they even own the world's biggest mobile phone handset factory, which is in China) and the most powerful global sourcing capacity and distribution network. Nokia should make many variants of its products, using 'platforms'. So for example the E-Series which is oriented to employee phones as enterprise/corporate phones. Like the Blackberry, Nokia is finding E-Series phones also used by the youth because they are so good at SMS text messaging. Now, the dumb thing is to insist on one model and force the youth to use a 'business' phone, while simultaneously not modifying that phone for consumer/youth needs (that the business user will not value, and his/her employer probably will not even want).
The easy solution. Make a sister product. Use the same 'platform' (same form factor, same QWERTY keyboard and identical screen, same CPU and memory) but add youth software - facebook access etc - and remove the boring work stuff like Microsoft Office Suite software. This platform thinking is how car makers offer targeted products. The same platform is used to make the Volkswagen Golf or a cheaper car branded Seat or Skoda, and a more expensive car branded Audi, etc. So create a youth variant of each E-Series phone. And make it funky! Do funky colors for the youth version. Call the business phone the E75, call the youth phone the X75. Technically they can be 90% the same but are clearly labeled and packaged and sold differently - and with different marketing support, advertising etc. Nokia should take every single E-Series QWERTY phone model (including Communicator, see below) and make a business-optimized and youth-optimized version. Its like Volvo and Mercedes Benz and Toyota, they make taxi versions of their cars, with diesel engines, durable plastic seats, etc and the consumer version on the same body style with more comfortable seats, choices of engines etc. This is not rocket science.
Then on the youth phone, make a premium version (X75 with 12 megapixel camera on Carl Zeiss branding and other such premium components, more memory for example) and a cheap youth version (C75 with 3 megapixel camera with Nokia branding). Now I have three phones (E75, X75, C75) which on superficial view seem the same and on their form factor and casing are mostly the same, and on their internal components will reflect prices, similar to the size of the engine in a car will then reflect in the price of the car. This is basics of segmentation. Get more profits, by offering more tailored products, aiming for specific segment needs. Rather than just having one E-Series offered for all three segments.
Apple cannot afford to release 20 different phone models per year, they simply do not have the scale to do that. Their one iPhone model is therefore a severe compromise. Nokia sold 460 million phones last year. Nokia can easily - easily - offer 200 phone models and make a big profit on each - provided they don't design each of the 200 on a unique platform. Look at what is happening in cars. Even extreme niche brands are expanding their offering. Porsche now makes SUVs and even a four-door model. Volvo makes a convertible and an SUV. Aston Martin - it doesn't get more exclusive than James Bond's iconic two-seater sports car - now offers a 4 door model. But Nokia says they want to reduce their product offering. Why? A decision that could only be made by an accountant. An accountant who slept through marketing classes.
Why does Coca Cola offer us Diet Coke and Cherry Coke and Coke Zero etc? To get more shelf-space at the supermarket, and to cater to as many variants of consumer tastes as possible. But Nokia - where it holds a supreme competitive advantage (scale) - voluntarily surrenders this enormous strength, and decides to reduce its product portfolio! Whoever authorized that decision is as close to a corporate traitor, as is economically possible. We can't convict that executive for treason, but if that person is still employed by Nokia, here is one scalp Stephen Elop needs to collect, have HR advise that moron to pcka his/her bags and seek a new career outside of Nokia. That is madness again. And yes, the answer is segmentation. I trust Stephen Elop understands this and will rectify the situation. Nokia should do the opposite, force its rivals to stretch THEIR product offering in desperate race to try to match Nokia's vast porfolio. "Any color as long as its black?" Thats Ford Model T obsolete thinking! Come on, look at Apple. Every day it delays its White iPhone, Nokia should be stuffing stores with White N8s and sell them. And Blue and Silver and Pink and Black etc...
While we are on the subject. I like to visit mobile phone stores around the world. And I have been getting the feeling that there are not that many Nokia models in the stores. It used to be that about half of any given store was Nokia. Now its not even a fifth. This may be a misconception but I do get the feeling that there are not many separate models of Nokia phones. Less choice, less chance that the random store-visitor likes that specific Nokia phone, and more likely he or she walks out with a rival brand. Come on, basic basic marketing - store shelf space. There should be every reason for every store owner to stock tons of exciting varied, colored, funky, cool, Nokia phones of every conceivable form factor and price range. If Nokia does stock 200 phone models, then make sure that in most markets at least 100 models of those are offered - use the range to croud out rival brands. Make the store owner pick, and make it very compelling to want to stock every Nokia phone.
MARKETERS ARE FROM VENUS, ENGINEERS ARE FROM .. PLUTO
Its not that engineers hate marketers. To hate, they would need to understand them enough to despise them. Engineers really do not understand. An executive from any North American company will spend a very long time 'acclimatizing' to how incredibly warped the engineering mindset is at any European engineering organization. So secretly inside Stephen Elop will wonder many many times any day, "can this Finnish colleague really not understand this basic thing or is he, Elop, perhaps not grasping some bigger issue here." He will be continuously astonished, and think that it cannot be that the Finn would not know the very basics of business and marketing. Trust me, Stephen, your instincts are right. It is really that bad. But you cannot believe it, so you will spend months disbelieving your eyes and ears. Nokia managers are excellent at engineering, but they are simply dis-believers of marketing. They do not understand it, and they cannot accept that marketing is a science with rules that work. And yes, segmentation is an alien concept to them.
So we need a few concrete examples. Colors. Nokia invented colored phones. They invented even the user-replacable phone covers. For this to be commercially viable you need popular phone models and huge global scale. Most rivals cannot sustain it. So this is a natural competitive advantage that Nokia has had for more than a dozen years now. For anyone reading this - do NOT argue against this - look at how much Apple fans want the White iPhone. The color is exactly as valid today as it was fifteen years ago. And you'd think since Nokia invented this, and have the biggest scale, that of course they do this for every phone? If it was a competitive advantage, then of course every Nokia phone would have easy - user-replacable screws, all panels would be replacable, and each new phone would feature funky colors and options and tons of innovations around this based on fashions. Yes, if Coca Cola was running Nokia, that would be obviously blatantly standard. And as Nokia invented the colored phones, at least it should believe its own eyes and evidence. But no.
No? Yes: no. Not at Nokia. The engineers don't like the frivolous colors. They don't like to be mocked by their friends. They don't like it at all that there would be user-changeable colors (and/or mis-matched keypads etc). At one point in time most Nokia phones supported this, but quickly that was reduced to only the cheapest 'youth' phones with some truly ugly colors. As if the Nokia designers wanted to move away from this! They owned a competitive advantage yet actively moved away from it. Today you can do some panels perhaps, but usually it means only some panels of a given phone model, not all, and mostly you have to go to custom phone shops to have the panels changed (why on earth? Why not put standard screws that normal consumers can change????). The more expensive the phone, the less likely is customization. This is engineering mindset. This phone was designed to be black. We tested it with a focus group and they gave the best score for black. We may maybe give you two color options, a gray and a silver, but thats it. No more options. Why? Because its not engineering, it is that uncomfortable marketing bullsh*t that engineers hate.
So. What was the hottest story of Apple's iPhone in December. It was the pending Verizon iPhone model. What was the second biggest story - the expectation of the 'White iPhone'. That is human nature. We love variety, we all have our favorite colors. Mercedes Benz does not say that they limit what color you can buy your Benz. Rolls Royce does not come in one color. Aston Martin will let you walk into the store with any color item you have, and they will match the color. Nokia can easily, easily allow the widest choice of colors of original casings of new phones - and then offer full casings of replacement/variation colors. Not just some highlights like on some models. Full casings. Front, back and sides! In plastic, in brushed aluminum, in flat steel, in carbon fibre why not, if that is the fashion of the day.
First - this is difficult for rivals to match. (but that is what frightens the engineers - they are so much like children, bless them, but it frightens them, when none of their rivals do this. So it must be bad. Nokia engineers cannot believe that the rivals are not doing this, because they cannot afford to do it haha.. Who is damaged? The end user thats who. They could have a Nokia phone in their ultimate fave color, now they have to accept it in grey with silver..). Secondly, many loyal Nokia owners kind of expect it and are frequently very disappointed to find that is not on the better models (usually only cheapest models offer this). Why would this require a visit to specialist stores. Let the user change colors often, daily even. And now understand the difference between end-user and customer - if Nokia offers premium custom covers - including metal casings for cheap plastic phones to make them seem more impressive - these premium cost high-margin accessories - accesssories - will drive visitors to stores! They will cause phone stores to stock more Nokia supplies. The store owner will prefer to sell Nokia phones that include accessories, so the customer may come back another day to buy the accessory! (Same reason why its IDIOTIC to not offer microSD card slot - the slot is another reason to drive 'foot-fall' to the operator/carrier store, to return to visit the store to buy some memory..). Oh, obviously, Nokia offer to buy back any unsold accessories - you can sell them online later, but this ensures that the main cover options are flooded on the markets.. Especially make sure the most expensive metal color covers are sold at all taxfree airport shops where frequent fliers hang around killing time.. Not just in Nokia stores but any electronics stores, flood the world with the cool (expensive model) replacement covers for currently hottest phone models.
This, color variation, is something only Nokia can do easily, across its whole product line. It is never 'not profitable'. Nokia just needs to price the replacement covers to make a profit. Some retailers won't stock it - no problem, sell the accessories online as well. Drive visitors to Nokia online store. Why not. Why in h-e-double-hockey-sticks not? (Canadian reference sorry).
Every g*dd*mn phone! The N8 and E7 - yes! Give the consumer choices to change the covers. Include base colors, and some premium colors just like in cars, you can have metallic paint. Include always a plain white cover that can be painted by the consumer. In the selection for every model include one more supremely 'chairman level' executive black on black with pinstripes, even more formal and impressive metal covers, than the basic model sold. And include at least one 'Liberace' model of utterly ridiculous flamboyance, sequins and garish colors. Feature regularly contests online for most creative consumer-designed covers for any phone model. Why not? They customize the phones anyway! Celebrate it, especially because for most rival phones you cannot change covers!
But engineers don't like this. They hate it if people make fun of their 'important' and 'valuable' tools. And the Nokia engineers will then show tons of studies that when they tried it on this model or that, the consumers were not impressed. HA HA HA. Those were ridiculous concepts designed to fail. (Like the ridiculous plastic case and ugly color edge covers of the 7600 3G phone, the whole phone was a flop!) Come here to Hong Kong and see the customization shops and how many people have their phones customized every day. This is human nature. I was customizing my treasured Nokia superphones, me a middle aged 'professional' consultant from Finland and Nokia's most expensive superphones - me customizing them haha. Yes, almost every phone I ever owned, I have customized. Customizing like a teenager girl haha.. But Nokia engineers hate it, so they do everything they can to avoid it. No. Opposite. Every single Nokia phone needs every outside panel to be user-replacable, with normal Phillips-head screws if needed, and with clip-on parts (ie no tools required) where feasible.
But I really mean a vast range from cheap plastic pink to brushed brass and mirror-finish aluminum and yes, try carbon fibre too. Let consumers celebrate their Nokia phones, do things no other phones can do. Have a reason to take the phone out of the pocket and show it to friends! And with new covers to older phone model lines - drive visitors to stores, make existing Nokia owners of 1 and 2 year old models, feel they can re-generate the older model, make it fresh and new, make them fall in love with Nokia again! Is this rocket science or is it just me? Its not difficult....
DON'T SQUASH THE LOVE
Then its the really little things, the petty things. Don't squash the love! The lousy adapter cable. Come on, Nokia! Again now there is some new phone I saw the specs (might be E7) where they say, cable not included. Come on! That is petty. It costs Nokia what 50 cents to include the cable for what, a phone that costs 700 dollars. What does it cost in disappointment to the consumer? Will they fall in love with Nokia or is this one of the hundreds of little paper cuts that kill the love? Nokia! Those basic accessories, you can afford them in the box. How ridiculously big is the hassle to try to find that cable if your local store doesn't stock it? The time wasted chasing the right model cable takes ages.
When that little cable enables a premium feature or ability - like say HDMI out, you want every single Nokia owner to try it and to use it - and to show it. This is again basic marketing going against the accountants. Some egghead in accounting made some study of how many Nokia owners will 'use' that ability, and decided that therefore most will not 'miss' the cable. That is exactly the wrong attitude and a false economy. You want every Nokia owner to wonder, what is this cable, where can I connect with this - oh, my new plasma screen TV has this slot, cool, does this fit here.. wow..
Now the opposite happens. For those LOYAL Nokia customers, who have bought seven past Nokia phones in the past decade, each progressively more expensive and more capable, who KNEW that this new model supports the feature - then they open the box and find - no cable! The disappointment is worth FAR MORE than the 50 cents saved! This is pointless nickle-and-dime stuff, killing the customer loyalty. Where did Nokia learn this? From the cheap airlines who now charge us for pillows and soft drinks. Do customers love it? No! Is there a correlation with Nokia - once most loved phone maker and its continuously declining customer satisfaction, I think yes.
THE NUMBERING NAZIS
Then we have the weird numbering system. If the numbering can help customers, fine. If it can help branding, fine. If the 'naming' of phones takes precedence over the design of the phones - that is moronic. That is the tail wagging the dog. And that is what is now happening at Nokia. This is probably related to the crazy culling of the product porfolio. What do I mean. If there is 'only' an N8 and an N7 and an N9, there are 3 products in that 'high price' bracket of 'big numbers' in the N-Series (vs say a Nokia N4 or N6). Now, when there was an N82 and N86 and N90 and N93 etc, there was the mathematical possibility to do thirty models in the same range, from N80 to N99. Apple cannot do thirty product models anywhere near profitably, Nokia can! Nokia can do three hundred models if it wants.
So practical example. The N8 and the E7. A weird pair. Roughly same price, roughly near the top of Nokia's product range as flagship products. Both are touch screen. The E7 is more expensive. It has both the touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard, that partly justifies its higher price. And the E7 has a 4 inch screen where the N8 has a 3.5 inch screen. Makes sense. But the N8 has a 12 megapixel camera and the more expensive E7 only has an 8 megapixel camera. Now it makes no sense anymore. The more expensive phone has the lesser camera? Why? Its due to the numbering Nazis. There was no 'room' to do the variants of the phones so someone did the study of the 'optimized' model.
Why not have an Nokia N80 with 3.5 inch screen, 8 megapixel camera, cheaper than the N8. Then use the same body, offer the N81 with also 3.5 inch screen and 12 mepapixel camera (and a bit more memory etc) and a higher price. This would be today's N8. Then offer an N82 with the 4 inch screen and 12 megapixel camera... Is this rocket science? No. Someone with a pure engineering mindset went to great effort internally to design one 'optimized' premium pure touch screen (ie without QWERTY) cameraphone smartphone (N8) and fought the battles why 3.5 inch screen rather than 4 inch, and why 12 megapixel rather than 8, etc. Apple needs to do that, they cannot have umpteen variations. Motorola and SonyEricsson can no longer afford the variety, they are now so small. Only Nokia and Samsung can do this today - and Nokia voluntarily refuses to offer us variety. Look at Samsung! They will sell you a Galaxy in any style you want. Want 3.7 inch screen Galaxy. You got it! Want a 4 inch Galaxy, you got it! want it in a better camera? You got it. Want it with a QWERTY? You got it. Want it in a tablet? You got it. Want it with a pico projector, no problem Mr Ahonen, here it is, its still a Samsung Galaxy....
Today when I walk to phone stores I tend to see several Galaxy models against one or two Nokia models in similar price ranges. Hello? What happened. In the eyes of the random ignorant consumer, Nokia is wilting away, it is vanishing!
There is a systematic error in the minds of every engineer. They think that with enough intelligence and planning and design, they can design the one perfect gadget. Every marketing person knows how wrong that is. That humans are different. It is impossible to design one product that everyone will love. That is not possible not in any industry. Marketing people know, that is why we have ..segmentation!.
Nokia is to phones what General Motors is to cars, it can sell Cadillacs and Chevrolets in America, it can sell Vauxhalls in Britain and Opels in Germany and Holdens in Australia. Yes, you can go over-board in splintering your product porfolio, but that was nowhere near the case for Nokia a few years ago. Their idiotic decision to cull the product range was due to iPhone envy. That Apple can get so big with just one phone model. Nokia HQ, get over it, you are not Apple and you cannot become Apple. The thinking that there is 'room' in the 'numbering' for 'only one' product in a given range is utterly wrong. But it once again illustrates how ultimately simple things about the basics of marketing are not understood at Nokia HQ. Segmentation. BMW doesn't force us to buy a 'BMW 3'. They will give us a 323 and 325 and 328 and M3 and Z3 and X3..
HOW TO DEAL WITH APPLE
The race with Apple is really clear. Do not descend down to Apple's level, re-capture the high ground! Nokia can do far better than the iPhone! Nokia can easily - easily - design an iPhone clone. Buy the latest Apple model, open it up, see the components, substitute Nokia variants, and slap it together. So, every year, Nokia needs a standard iPhone clone model, but to do it 'the Nokia way'. Ie it needs to be totally compatible with all industry formats and standards (you know, early iPhones didn't do MMS, the long battle with Adobe Flash etc). Standard Nokia elements like the removable battery, the hot-swappable microSD memory card slot, in-built FM radio and FM transmitter for the car, and now the near field radio. Then yes, in some case be a bit 'less' than the iPhone - no need to go 'retina display' in this model, but go in some area ahead of Apple - better camera for example. Roughly same size, form factor and expressly the same size screen and overall dimensions. Then give it a category name that is condescending, dismissive. Call it the N60 (next year the N61) and have the marketing department and advertising agencies come up with the rudest name you can think of for the phone type, as the nickname for Nokia's own model (which is clearly the iPhone clone). So you call it Nokia's 'entry level smartphone' or the 'beginner phone' or the 'simpleton' or the 'stripped down model' or 'bare bones' model (in Finnish: the 'Karvalakkimalli' - that makes sense to Finns) and in all marketing literature Nokia never mention the iPhone but show the N60 as its bare bones lousy simple boring modest model - and always when showing this very modest Nokia N60, next to it in all marketing literature the 'upgrade' versions - N70, N80, N90..
The N60 would be priced well below the iPhone so if the iPhone's current unsubsidised price is about 600 dollars, Nokia can easily sell this N60 for 500 dollars at a nice profit. Then Nokia offers the N65 - which is the same N60 specs but adds the QWERTY slider and costs 25 Euros more, and is (of course) a bit more thick to accommodate the sliding mechanism and full keyboard but - it is still far cheaper than the iPhone!
Then show the N70 which would be like today's N8, take the iPhone and go way beyond in specs, offer all the N60 did (removable battery, microSD slot, FM radio etc..) and then add some obviously better features - a better camera, Xenon flash, etc. This all in roughly the same body style as the N60 and now priced just below the iPhone, at say 575 dollars. And yes, then the sister model as the N75 which matches all specs of the N70, and adds the QWERTY - and sells for 599 dollars.
Then go for the nuclear option, the N80 - a bigger screen. Now you give the 4 inch screen like on the E7, and most features of the N60, including 8 megapixel camera - but with Xenon flash this time. Make the 4 inch screen 1280 x 720 in resolution and you have essentially 'retina display' and you've trumped Apple on all features, better screen, better camera, better connectivity, better functionality (except obviously the current version of Symbian and Ovi store, which are still playing catch-up obviously) and price this at 100 dollars more than Apple. Offer the N85 sister with QWERTY at 25 dollars more.
And then abandon the 'iPhone clone' body style for Nokia's true flagship phone - have the N90-N93-N97-N99 as something of a true flagship, nothing like the iPhone but a true Nokia showcase of engineering brilliance, priced at over 1,000 dollars and be the mobile phone that everybody would really want. Every year one model in the N90's class as the true flagship (probably in the N95-N99 naming group) and its 'little brother' in the N90-N94 series, on a similar form factor. I will give the example of the re-birth of the N93 in here below
The point is, to first, show that of course Nokia can easily do something that Apple does - but even when Nokia does that, it is of course the desirable phone because Nokia understands the mobile consumer. The Nokia phone has the forward-facing camera but it also supports 3G videocalls for example (something the iPhone 4 doesn't) etc. The removable battery, the microSD, the FM radio etc. Nokia's 3.5mm intelligent plug that does the headphones in and the TV out, that kind of stuff. Of course Nokia does a phone like the one from Apple. Be condescending, show that its actually a very modest power phone, and as Nokia can sell it for far less, Apple is over-charging for that model.
Then part two, mock the iPhone! Show how 'retarded' it really is. Show that just in Nokia's own model range the 'iPhone clone' is NOT the top model (so stupid to name the current iPhone clone the N8, and make it the top phone - thats simply crazy, they should have named it the N6), it needs to be one of the cheapest N-series phones you can buy. And its really limited and restricted - but if you want a very slim phone "that is more style than substance", yes Nokia offers that too. But most people will want a better camera, a better screen, a better keyboard etc, and the N-Series mid-range phones offer all that.
And Nokia's top model - Nokia's flagship model - will never ever justify Apple's form factor. Nokia's top model is a flagship of engineering brilliance, and it will not be 'minimalist' (that is the defense of the manufacturer who cannot do it all). Nokia's flagship is the opposite. If Apple is the Porsche 911, then Nokia's flagship is what Mercedes-Benz did not with the S-Class, but with the Maybach. A celebration of engineering brilliance - and opulence. And it must be totally, visually, as far from the iPhone as possible. It must stand on its own as so great in technology that its users will want to showcase it all the time - and show to the world that the coolest people and the richest people will want to use the Nokia superphone, rather than the rather pedestrian and limited iPhone. That is the way for Nokia to deal with Apple (in my humble opinion). And come with me to the N93 below, I will show how.
I see the N-Series as Nokia's premium consumer phone series. It should start at price points a little below that of the iPhone and go to about twice as high. I see it as the Cadillac of General Motors or the Audi of the Volkswagen group, or what Jaguar was to Ford. This is Nokia's most aspirational consumer phone. Its cheapest lowest worst basic phone should be essentially Nokia's iPhone clone. It should clearly shout to the world, that we consider the iPhone to be about the weakest thing we could consider in the N-Series but most Nokia buyers are far more demanding and we offer far better phones to them. The top phone of the N-Series would be revived roughly once every 2 years (at odd years with the top E-Series phone) and the top N-Series phone would be blatantly visually opposite of anything from Apple. Where Apple is minimalist, this is 'maximalist' - a true showcase of everything that we all will want in our phones, and will have as standard 3 to 5 years from now. To be to phones what the S-Series Mercedes Benz or the Maybach is today. Obviously the N-Series would soon start to migrate to MeeGo. The N-Series would all feature as standard Carl Zeisss optics and Dolby sound technology and whatever other such tech partners Nokia will sign up. The series would be all touch screen and most phones would have QWERTY variants. There should be at least a dozen devices in the line and the top model should cost at least 1,200 dollars (without subsidy). Don't cry! We want every single self-respecting tech journalist to 'know' that the supreme top phone is the newest top N-Series, and lets see how close the new iPhone 5 gets to the true master, Nokia's top N-Series. That is the equation! Not that we all now cower to the iPhone..
Oh, and while we are on the camera side. The top N-Series (N80, N90) models should have some super-features for cameraphones - such as the fastest camera, going from locked phone in idle mode, to capturing the picture. That would be one of Nokia's sales arguments, we have the fastest camera. And for video, the top phones should offer super slo-mo, ie ability to record 60 frames per second or even 120 frames per second, which gives more sharp slow motion video. The power is there now, top Nokia phones have video co-processors, there is enough memory, use it!
E-Series is the professional phone series, its bottom price point would be significantly lower than the N-Series, entry level basic business phones but all E-Series would have QWERTY keypads, either in 'Blackberry' style or as folder/slider full wide QWERTYs like the Communicator or E7. The phones would tend to have lesser cameras, but would tend to come as standard with office suite tools. There would be ruggedized outdood versions of selected E-Series phones. The top of the series would be the Communicator, with the new top Communciator released every 2 years, at alternate years to the top N-Series. The top E-Series phones (E80 and E90 series) would include touch screens, Carl Zeiss branded optics and Dolby sound, and very advanced cameras, but most 'normal' E-Series would be modest in the technical specs and understood to be 'fleet' phones sold by the thousands to middle managers in enterprise/corporate buying environments. There would not be very 'cheap' phones in the series, the cheapest E-Series would still be relatively robust 'business tool' - so while the youth also like the E-Series as they fall in love with the Blackberry, Nokia would not use the E-Series as the answer to youth adoption of the Blackberry - that would be the youth phone series (X Series) below. There should be something like 10 phones in the E-Series lineup including one modest spec QWERTY and touch screen phone, something in the style of the Blackberry Torch but at clearly lower price point and very modest other specs in camera etc.
REBIRTH OF THE DEFINITIVE N-SERIES PHONE, THE ULTIMATE, THE N93
I mentioned in the earlier blog about Nokia's failures that it abandoned both of its iconic designs - designs that were both winning it accolades in the tech press and were very rare, popular, and iconic designs, so much so, that across the room you could spot anyone who was using that phone. One is the Communicator, the other is the N93. This is the contortionist phone, with four functional forms. It looks like a clamshell phone (typical Motorola like a thick Razr) when in pocket mode, shut down. It still has a small display window with the clock, and shows who calls if someone calls you. Then you can open it up like a typical flip-phone (also like a Razr) and use it like any flip phone to call, to send and read text messages. Then comes the clever bit. The phone has a hinging mechanism, that allows the 'lid' to be opened sideways. Now it looks like a tiny laptop, the screen is opened 'sideways' for 'landscape' views of the internet or any videos. It looks like a cute pocket-sized video player - and the screen knows this, so it orients properly in this orientation. And then the last and most exotic form, it twists even further, and looks like any modern videocam, you hold the handle like the grip of a gun, the videocamera points to where you are 'shooting' when taking videos, and the display twists its big video screen to the side, and folds towards the person taking the video. This is also its camera shooting configuration. It has a very convenient thumb-operated zoom lever and a very comfortable camera shutter. Because of the hinging mechanism is somewhat bulky, that allows for the 'real' optical zoom structure of the Carl Zeiss optics.
It is a magnificent camera and by far best videocamera form factor for any cameraphone. By far. The N93 allows a very comfortable camera holding position, shooting position, zooming control and excellent viewing from all sorts of angles, even if you are at a rock concert and are holding the camereaphone above your head, you can just pivot the video screen down to where you are looking, and make good aiming of the pictures/videos you are shooting. It is a brilliant piece of technology. And it is so completely ultimately totally 'Nokia'. No other phone looks and behaves like this. And some idiots at Nokia decided to discontinue this form factor. They could have a platform which Apple will never copy and one that allows the construction of real optical zooms of incredible power - that form factor could easily support 5x optical zoom, probably even 12x optical zoom. And if this phone features a 12 megapixel image sensor and Carl Zeiss optics and say 5x optical zoom (plus of course massive digital zoom like 12x) - this would be the phone every single professional media journalist will want! Suddenly any news crews from CNN and BBC and Al Jazeera reporting from Egypt or Sudan or Yemen will have all journalists using their Nokia N93 phones as their video and audio capture devices - iconic, 'only Nokia' devices! Why not! Why on earth not?
Don't try to make it cheap. Make it a 'semi professional' device, the one that every serious camera fan will insist on having and with it, many video and camera oriented artists from television and movies to music video.
Now, we have the platform. Obviously the N93 was made in 2006, thats five years ago. We need the modern version to be far slimmer and more cool (thickness close to Razr, but keeping N93 clever hinges and contortion). It needs the modern touch screen type of screen and latest Symbian S^3 software, that goes without saying. But price this at 1,200 dollars. And remember, we have the 'bulky' bit of the hinge structure that houses the Zoom optics. This is pretty darn good. We could rather easily fit into it a pico projector too! We have it easily within the budget of the phone. The screen cannot be the biggest, maybe 3.2 inch or 3.5 inch, but the best camera in the world - go 13-14 megapixels maybe and yes, xenon flash in some clever folding bit too haha, and a separate powerful double LED light for video shooting and tons of battery life.
Anyway, we have a big screen, and a pico projector. Now lets go beyond. Do something even more awesome. Maybe put in a 'TV module' into the phone! Put it as a user-replaceable digital piece under the battery. Ship the phone with the local TV standard to whatever country it is sold in. So in Europe you have PAL TV and whatever digital TV format is broadcast. Sell the phone with TV (like the N96). And - considering travellers - sell the other digital TV modules, so if you fly to Japan, you can plug in the 1Seg TV tuner or in South Korea the DMB tuner etc. It doesn't matter that this phone itself will not sell one million units, and its special digital TV tuner modules will not sell more than some thousands of units per standard (and would be priced accordingly, but could be bought from the Nokia online store obviously). This is not the device to win the mass market, this is the ultimate aspirational phone anyone will want, if price was no object. If you toss in a user-replacable local TV module, this is now a massive jump ahead of anyone else. Apple can never offer a removable digital TV module - they don't even offer a removable battery or removable microSD card haha..
Yes, we all know we have pocket video and YouTube but this top-line Nokia phone has full TV also. And its intelligent for international travel. Would the frequent fliers want to show off the fancy contortionist Nokia phone at business lounges and make the iPhone owners cower in shame - hey, is that the new Nokia phone, can you show it to me? How does the camera work.. and so forth. And the proud owner would turn on the pico projector, shoot the video from the friend's face, project it to the colleagues's white shirt and all would laugh.. And the friends would all start to think - "I want that Nokia phone for myself.."
Nobody else can do this! That form factor is pure Nokia. It and only it allows the best possible optical zoom setup for any camera. It is by definition large - like Maybach is a four door car, it is by definition far bigger than a Porsche or Ferrari. Mercedes Benz can play with the big size and do things no other can do - like the fully reclining flat sleeper seat with massage etc.. You can't fit that in a Porsche haha.. And Nokia owns this wonderful N93 form factor and refuses to use it! Idiots. Clueless engineers who simply do not understand marketing. But while the N93 was rather bulky, imagine the Razr, it need not be that bulky now.
Oh, for timing, I would launch the Communicator in 2011 (see below) and not do the N93 return this year, but do the N93 return next year, in 2012. If so, I'd also toss in the Movidius chip, not so much for the 3D stuff as for the X-Series below, but more for the magical video and picture enhancement technology, like ultra-slow motion of videos already shot, superduper sharp non-pixelating zooming of pictures already taken, etc. (and the 3D and virtual 3D too, see more about Movidius chip below in X-Series)
RETURN OF THE COMMUNICATOR
The other flagship phone would be the return of the Communicator. The E7 is not, and cannot be a 'Communicator' for the simple reason, it is not dual screen, dual keypad phone. The Communicator has an iconic 'palmtop' form factor, it really opens exactly like a pocket-sized laptop PC. So it has the T9 keypad and a small screen on the front, and a massive big second screen and full wide QWERTY second keyboard on the inside. Why two keyboards? Why not just the slider format like the E7? Because the Communicator was always - every single model - the ultimate 'no compromise' phone with everything. If you are sitting down, and have the space, when you send messages, you use the full QWERTY keyboard, but if you are rushing at the airport pulling your expensive leather wheelie-luggage in your other hand, you can still operate the Communicator one-handed, to dial that one important call - or to send SMS text messages single-handed! The Communicator has two screens and two keyboards for a reason. It is the Communicator! It is a no-compromise perfect (but outrageously expensive and massively huge, heavy, big) phone. It IS the Maybach. Huge but it has everything.
So what is the E96 Communciator in 2011 by my estimation? I say it is only marginally smaller than the E90 Communicator. It has distinctly different size due to screen size. The past Communciators always had letterbox screen sizes. That is no longer necessary, now Nokia can do it with the 16:9 screen size like the E7. So lets take the E90, but cut about 1.5 cm from the length and add it to the width. Use roughly the E7 overall size, but make it thicker. Yes, thicker. Not by much. But thicker. Use the same incredibly robust and reliable hinges on the E90. Fit a screen even bigger than on the E7. Because the main screen is on the inside, it is protected by the clamshell being shut, make it a 4.5 inch screen with tiny tiny edges protecting the giant screen. Using 16:9 screen form, use 1280 x 720 resolution and you can say its approximately a 'retina display'. But obviously it would be the most massive pocketable screen on the market.
When opened up in 'palmtop' mode, sitting on a table, the 'width' of the main QWERTY keyboard would be severely reduced from the E90. But the keyboard space would be far deeper, so take the non-alphabet keys from the edges, and move them to one extra row of keys, so there would be 7 rows of keys, not 6. Thus the actual keys could be easily the same size as the E90, and the new QWERTY keyboard should be at least as comfortable as the E90 (ideally even better with tweaks about key shapes, key travel, key resistance etc.). When opened, this new E96 Communicator could be called a 'baby netbook' in form factor.
The secondary screen on the outside (when clamshell is closed) would be a bit bigger than in the E90, and the T9 keys about the same on the outside as on the E90. The main camera should be 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss in 2011 for Nokia's top 'Chairman' phone, with Xenon flash. As with all Nokia smartphones of course second inward facing VGA camera for 3G videocalls. Of course all normal features of Nokia premium phones including hot-swappable microSD card slot and of course removable battery. The standard memory would be something unbelievably massive, at least 2x maybe 4x more than any other phone on the market (memory is not that expensive but helps project the phone to a different plane, remember this is a 1,000 dollar phone).
For radio, it would be GSM-everywhere every band, and 3G and HSPA everything. If its practical, include LTE but that is not really necessary. WiFi and Bluetooth of course the latest versions but in 2011, this could be Nokia's first WiMax (so-called 4G) phone.
And the raison d'etre for such a 'thick' phone - obviously the pico projector! This should be Nokia's first pico projector phone. A pico projector would make it instantly the phone every CEO would want, and they would play with that pico projector everywhere - and their top salespeople would all be begging to get Communicators too, because they 'would need' the pico projector in their sales meetings. See how this goes? Price becomes no object now. And the thickness of the phone is no problem. Yes, you may have your skinny iPhone, but can your iPhone do this? (takes out Pico projector...)
So the Communciator is twice the phone compared to any major rival. Two screens, two keyboards, two cameras, and.. two operating systems! I think the gimmick to a Communciator in 2011 would be that it would be Nokia's first dual operating system phone - having both the Symbian and MeeGo operating systems, and be kind of 'future proof'. With Symbian it would have full access to a very wide range of apps, and with MeeGo, as the Communciator would be used for somewhat more than the average phone, it would also be able to take advantage of the rapidly growing new MeeGo app world. Two of everything. Yes, it costs twice the price of most smartphones but it is twice the phone. Remember the first time when Audi was offering four-wheel drive on its cars and we all laughed that was silly, nobody would want that except rallye car drivers.. Now its not so funny anymore.. The top Communciator would for every generation be made deliberately to be (slightly) bigger than any other phone on the market - and that massive size would then allow embedding just about every cool gadget and toy you could ever imagine, including hopefully some we could even not think of.
One thing that might be of interest, I don't know. The Americans always hated the Communicator because its contemporary US smartphones of similar prices had stylus operated touch screens. I believe a capacitive touch screen won't work with a stylus and you need a resistive touch screen. Well, the main 4.5 inch screen would of course be capacitive (the kind like on the iPhone, ie easier to use with fingers) but we have two screens! Why not make the secondary screen also a touch screen but resistive, and offer for the first time ever, a stylus! Now those execs who love their old PDA with the stylus, and want to take some notes etc, can use the stylus for that on the screen when the phone is closed! I am totally not a stylus person, but this could be a funky idea to just show how 'perfect' the Communicator is, that it would do just about anything you could ever hope for. Obviously there should be a sensor and a bit of logic, that if you removed the stylus while the phone was open (big screen visible) it should show a warning - that the main screen does not work with the stylus (also a useful warning if you happened to forget your stylus haha)
Lets add a business card scanner 'solution'... If we have a 12 megapixel camera on the phone, in macro mode, it will make very sharp images of business cards. Now, considering the size of the Communicator, it shouldn't be difficult to position the camera sensor close to the middle on the back of the phone, and then construct a kind of 'built-in tripod' three or four legs that twist out to form a 'table' to position the Communicator to stand on a table, camera facing down. Then place the device over a business card, it will be at exactly the right distance. Then we have a 'business card' setting for the camera. Position two LED flashes on opposite sides of the camera lens with some special reflectors to create a very flat light over a business card, so we don't get the hot spot of white in the middle.
Use case? These old CEO types won't be exchanging electronic business cards, they will still use the paper cards for years to come. But this could be a cool gimmick for the 'leadership' of the Communicator - extend the 3 or 4 legs from the body of the phone, position it on a table, and snap through the 20 business cards you got today, one by one, and each is saved in very sharp resolution to the phone. Of course the camera would know to save only the size of the business card (and not a big picture of the table with a small business card in the middle) which would save memory. Then bundle of course one of the industry's best business-card OCR converters, so the CEO could do the conversions also to the phonebook, and best of all, each phonebook entry could include the link to the picture of the business card. Magnificent. This is just one reason why you have to have a Communicator, because it lets you manage your business cards... And before you know it, some Communicator owners will be using this function at airport lounges and others will come and see, what are you doing, what kind of a weird phone is that? Oh, is this the new Nokia, wow, I didn't know you can do that...
Obviously a parallel use for the extending legs and macro mode, would be to copy photographs (scan them) so a second setting would be for standard photographs up to 10cm x 6cm, so the legs would probably need to extend a bit 'outwards' haha to allow standard-sized photographs to fit under the camera.
Thats what I'd do with the Communicator today, and of course it would include the full Microsoft Office suite (or some clone) that not just reads Powerpoint, Word and Excel but also edits them. And have the standard TV out, HDMI out, USB, etc connectivity. In fact, I'd toss in the infra-red and include it with the TV remote control 'cloning' device, so you could use your Communciator as the replacement for the home TV remote - remember the main keyboard on the front, so no need to open the phone, just use the 12 main keys of the T9, and if you forgot which button was which, you could see the layout on the smaller secondary screen. Wouldn't that be yet another bit of proof that the Communicator is the grand master of all phones - it even lets you control your TV set haha..
(PS you know the most stupid reason ever to discontinue the Communciator? It was loved by consumers the world over, it was the last Nokia branded premium phone to beat the iPhone in tech magazine surveys and comparisons - but Nokia is not eager to make more of them? Why on earth not? Because in Finland - Nokia senior employees have a 'stigma' of being labeled Communciator-users, as being therefore geeks and nerds. Its a supremely desirable cool phone in giant phone markets such as Indonesia - the fourth biggest country by population, but in tiny Finland Nokia execs don't want to be forced to walk around with them, and hate the connotation that its a nerd-phone in Finland (come on, Finland's total population is less than the population of Jakarta one city in Indonesia haha).. How stupid is that! But Nokia middle-managers managed to convince the product line bosses that there shouldn't be another Communciator. Idiotic decision on a ridiculous reason! Stephen Elop, if he just does the most cursory survey of this product's magnificent history and huge loyalty, will restore the Communicator I am sure).
Then, as the main Communicator would be launched, about 6 to 9 months later, its 'little brother' Communicator would appear - like the 9300 was to the 9500. The little brother would have most features and abilities of the big brother but would be physically smaller, and clearly distinctly styled to be not the same. But the little brother would be totally Communciator in form factor. So if the E96 Communicator is the big brother, then an E91 Communicator could be the little brother. I'd reduce the onboard memory, remove the pico projector (obviously) and give it a more normal premium camera like 8 megapixels, maybe also remove the Xenon flash. I would keep the funky business card reader and dual operating systems of Symbian and MeeGo. The price point for this junior Communicator would be in the 750 dollar range.
The next 'new' super Communicator two years later, the E97 Communicator, would be a size between these two, smaller than the E96, but not quite as small as the E91.. And so forth, gradually shrinking for us. And each main 'big' Communicator would be the absolute super-showcase of the very best a phone could be.
X SERIES FOR YOUTH
Now, what Nokia desperately needs is to become cool again, for the youth. They are now using E-Series QWERTY phones due to their great keyboards for SMS texting, and other instant messaging and social networking. That is massively sub-optimal. The Nokia E-Series phones are designed for business, very conservative colors, and include all sorts of business software, and typically don't have lots of youth stuff.
So, enter the X-Series. This should absolutely be launched as a whole new funky series of phones. Very much mid and premium priced, not low cost youth phones. Look at who own premium smartphones, against all logic, the youth have highest ownership of premium phones. Make the whole X-Series priced at the top end near N-Series and at the low end to go slightly lower than E-Series. Those kids who want them, will find the money for the X-Series, and let the C-Series serve those kids who can't afford the X.
All X-Series would have real physical keyboards, either T9 or QWERTY keyboards, either as wide candybars (Blackberry) or sliders or folders. All would also have touch screens. And all would be benchmarked against the Nokia range and rank in the top 20 best texting phones, so every single one of them would also be 'T' Rated by Nokia
Then all would have cool youth-oriented software, some basic video editing software, some pretty fancy picture editing software, and as many standard social networking access that Nokia can cram to the phone like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube etc. Every X Series would be 3G or faster and every one would have WiFi. This series would be aimed at the 16-24 year old population who go clubbing and partying. Pre-loaded Qik and Flirtomatic and whatever similar youth cool stuff.
Gaming! Give each X-Series with three free game downloads from paid games in Ovi store - help teach the kids to use Ovi and boost the X-Series as the preferred gaming platform (remember, all X-Series are also touch screen). For premium X-Series include a coupon for five free downloads, etc. I don't know if the N-Gage engine is still alive (it was once part of the N-Series) and/or can be revived, but there was a catalog of N-Gage games, if they exist, toss in the N-Gage software to all X-Series and give all new buyers a couple of N-Gage games too (sold via Ovi store) - most of these will be several years old, so their developers would love to make some money on the back catalog. Obviously Nokia would pay the individual license fees to all downloaded paid games used this way, as part of the promotion/marketing expenses of X-Series. As the cool kids have X-Series phones, and start to play cool games on them, they will tell their 'less cool' friends in school who use Nokia C-Series and E-Series and perhaps hand-me-down N-Series phones, to also go to Ovi store to download those games... This is Ovi store marketing using thought-leaders (Communities Dominate and all that..)
Premium end X80s and X90s of X Series would have Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash recording in High Definition mode, even the cheapest X Series like X20s and X30s would have mid-range cameras on Nokia branding ie 5 megapixels this year and record in good video quality. These are not cheap phones, they go from mid-range to very expensive and all would be smartphones. And all X Series would have the Dolby sound stuff and high performance earphones.
A word about form factor. Remember the target audience. The youth includes teenagers in school. We know they prefer chocolate bar form factors and thin sliders (like N95), and specifically won't want folder formats (clamshells, palmtops) - why? Because they take the phones to school and hide them under their sleeves. For this segment, single-handed blind operation of the phone is an absolute must, half of them admit to using their phones this way. So all X-Series need to be fully functional single-handedly, blindly and even when hidden under clothing such as tucked into the sleeve. We are now aiming to win the hearts and minds of the future generation of mobile phone buyers, we are not judging them for how they use their phones.. And if the youth see this particular phone brand (and the X-Series specifically) as 'revolutionary' counter-culture, something their parents and teachers will hate - that is what the youth want. They want to rebel. That would be the ethos of the X-Series. That is the only way it can overcome Nokia's bad image in the eyes of the youth, that is what is truly needed. So no clamshells, no N97 style folders, no pure touch screens. All phones have to have T9 or QWERTY keypads, mostly as chocolate bar form factors (like Blackberry) or as long sliders (like N95), but also side sliders if flat - like Sidekick - would work, as long as it doesn't fold up like N97 or E7.
And the killer gimmick - the Movidius chip for real 3D and virtual 3D. Include it in all mid-price and premium X-Series so say all X-Series phones from X60 on up would have the Movidius chip. These would become the ultimate phones for watching any videos - as the Movidius chip lets you see simulated 3D on any 2D video, even from YouTube, even videos shot on other cameraphones and transferred to the X-series using a microSD card or Bluetooth. While the technology is to some degree a bit of a gimmick before we get lots of 3D content, it is a compelling cool feature and won't be tremendously expensive to implement. So if I was Nokia, I would sign up Movidius on exclusive deal for something like a 6 month or even 12 month deal if they are willing to do that (in the case of Nokia, I could see them signing that contract haha).
And then on the top X-Series phones, lets say the models X91 and X99 - stereo cameras! Shoot 3D video and 3D images. Is that cool or what? Not massively expensive, but for this segment, superdupercool. Suddenly Nokia has the mojo again. Not your fathers' old Nokia, but the cool new X-Series phones, with fantastic QWERTY keyboards, a great selection of games on the Ovi store on Symbian on the touch screens, and 3D videos, games and even on premium X-Series phones - shoot 3D video. Is that cool or what. And to promote this - sponsor every extreme sport and major extreme athlete and TV show etc with X-Series phones and run contests of user-generated 3D videos etc.
Launch the X-Series with at least 5 separate models (remember, these are mostly 'rebadged' phones of existing form factors already being made by E-Series, N-Series and high-end C-Series, just with funkier colors and some software changes) and expand it to at least 10 models within the first year. Right from the start offer the uber-cool X91 with Stereo camera for 3D and include an X20 the cheapest youth Touch screen and T9 slider basic phone with 5 megapixel camera.
The whole X-Series should need to be 'obviously' different - so I'd say use those 'shifting color' schemes like some cars have, that look green from one angle and blue from another. Make the early X Series models all (in their basic off-the-shelf colors) in such funky colors, so anyone with an X-Series, even the cheapest X20 will be clearly 'seen' to be a Nokia X series user.. Make them 'flashy' almost 'bling' and definitely phones you cannot miss in a crowd.. The buyers of the X-Series will want to be seen to be cool, trend-setters and know to recognize a good thing when they see it..
And after the aspirational top phones, I'd do mildly similar basic phones. So a top C-Series could be a modest 'Communciator' and another top C-Series could also use the N93 contortionist form factor, but with far more modest specs, lesser cameras, smaller screens, less memory, none of the super-expensive goodies, but let those with the aspirations have something like the super device. Release these about 6 months later and make them top of the C-Series.
The main lines of C-Series and other cheaper phones would be mid and basic price Symbian phones in the sliders, candybars etc styles and I'd make sure to include the 'nano iPhone' in that mix, and as long as there is no formal iPhone Nano model, this Nokia baby iPhone clone would be a C-Series phone, priced in the about 300 dollar range. I'd make it a 3.2 inch screen, almost exactly iPhone 4 spec for most features (but with microSD slot, FM radio, removable battery etc) and very importantly very similar in style, the very boxy very slim iPhone 4 etc. Offer it in like 6 colors (including white!). And offer the sister model with QWERTY slider for 25 dollars more. Except for retina display, I'd pretty much copy iPhone 4 specs, but cut the internal memory to far less - as this version would have the microSD slot haha.
Obviously Nokia is pushing aggressively into very low cost phones, for India, Africa etc. There the needs are often quite different, dual SIM slots, family settings, in-built torch/flashlight, etc. I can't really advise Nokia more here into these price points and markets. What Nokia does need to be mindful is that they are building loyalty, so even the very low cost phones need to maintain Nokia's reputation, to make sure that consumer comes back and wants their next phone to be a Nokia too.
PHONES FOR ELDERLY
Lastly the elderly. I would include a standard setting for all phones to be comfortable for essentially the elderly. I wouldn't call it the elderly setting, but very early in the options, I would make the big text option, that would take everything on the phone and enlarge everything. And as part of that setting, would then offer options - very easy to find - to make the sounds louder (ringing, earpiece sounds) and offer simplified main menu choices, where about half of all icons and menu choices would be stuck in 'other'. To reduce the clutter and make it really easy for the more elderly users to find the main uses, voice, SMS, MMS, camera, clock, alarm, etc and hide the funky 'stereo ringing tones' etc into advanced settings.
And in the C-series basic phones I'd make several phones at several price points where the body of the phone was bulkier, bigger, with bigger keypads - clearly for the older people who prefer bigger controls - but remember, some still appreciate high quality features, so without calling these a separate series, I'd include these large button phone phones from the simple to high price almost N-Series style smartphones of touch screens and 8 megapixel cameras. Many retired people have tons of money and many want to buy 'quality' products understanding 'value' is not always same as cheap haha. But most phones of high performance have very difficult controls in a physical sense. Nokia can easily afford a couple of models - 5 maybe - to cover the elderly market and other people who have a need for large controls (work outside and use gloves for example..) so make sure they have basic phones and featurephones and cheap smartphones and high cost smartphones for this segment.
Segmentation segmentation segmentation. Its not engineering, to win in market share, its driven by segmentation and Nokia needs to play to its strengths, not to its weaknesses.
FIX THE ERRORS
Finally, obviously, fix the blaring errors. Obviously, N8, battery? Needs a screw driver? Imagine the fight at some over-zealous airport security check where the N8 owner has a spare battery, but has to throw away the screw driver because some security guard decides its a lethal weapon... Do an immediate redesign of the N8 and release an N8b version by Q2 that has normal battery change like any other Nokia phone. The missing microSD slot of the E7 - fix that right away, also by Q2.
And that crazy N8 camera. A brilliant 12 megapixel sensor is wasted by simultaneously doing the optical angle as 'wide angle' ie 28mm equivalent focal length (if it was a 35mm SLR camera)??? WHY ON EARTH? Some camera buff pulled a fast one over Nokia execs on this. Now what does the average N8 owner - who is not a serious camera users hunting flowers or butterflies somewhere - who takes a picture on the N8? Compares to other phones - sees that everybody is really tiny in the picture. The 12 megapixel camera is actually worse than previous cameras - because now any picture you take - all of the normal pictures of friends and situations - the image is really tiny - so the owner has to go into the picture and zoom into it. And use photoshop or something to edit the picture!!! All the gains of the fancy resolution is lost in all that space around us that we normally do not even see. The camera experience is severely un-satisfactory due to stupid focal length. Keep the same focal length as previous Nokia cameraphones for g*dssakes! Then the user will immediately see the value of the 12 megapixel resolution and can zoom into the picture for sharper images. Now the user has to waste time zooming into every picture - just to see the same as before? Bad choice! Get rid of that lens, do a normal lenses for all Nokia cameraphones including 12 megapixel cameras not suddenly wide-angle lenses. I bet far more users of the N8 are disappointed in the camera's wide angle than the few camera geeks who think its cool. Idiots. A camera geek will own a stand-alone camera. The cameraphone is a snapshot camera replacement. Nokia again threw one huge competitive advantage away. This is systematic...
The perennial delays and disappointments are also wearing very thin. Nokia is now becoming the Microsoft of mobile phones (where Microsoft operating systems tended to be known for delays and bugs). Nokia needs to execute more precisely, don't promise dates until they are firm, and then stick to them. Too much of the promise at Barcelona, delay delay delay so by the time we see that promised phone, its no longer anything special and in the worst cases, rivals have leapfrogged Nokia. The shipment of software is obviously a difficult think for a hardware vendor but this is an area where Stephen Elop's background will be particularly strong, to help Symbian and MeeGo software to be released more on time and without all the bug and problems.
GO WOO NINTENDO
And as a long-shot project, I'd send a high level envoy to do some secret meetings with Nintendo. Of major consumer gadgets that will be on phones one day, the biggest two still missing are Playstation Portable and Nintendo. Nokia obviously won't be able to get PSP because of Sony's partnership with Ericsson, but Nintendo has been saying a lot that it doesn't care about phone gaming. N Squared, NN, Nokia-Nintendo could be a hot gaming phone and it is inevitable in the long run. What Nokia should do, is go woo Nintendo, do a meticulous project, not rushed, on MeeGo obviously, to bring Nintendo titles onto a Nintendo-like Nokia phone with ideally branding by both. But if Nintendo wanted it, could be Nokia subcontracted pure Nintendo phone, or could be a partnership where Nintendo was not branded, but only a Nokia gaming phone - that gets the Nintendo engine and access to the Nintendo catalog (to ensure Nintendo doesn't lose face if the project fails) etc.. However they want to play it. But in the short run (if the project gets off the ground and results in a gaming phone) Nokia would land the last major gaming platform and further appeal to the cool and the youth - and in the mid-to-long run as Nintendo no doubt would sooner or later start to make those phones themselves - Nokia would gain a good ally into the MeeGo family.
WHAT WE NEED IS THE JEDI... STEPHEN ELOP?
But yeah, thats what I would do. Then there are of course individual markets, carriers/operators, like the USA, so Stephen Elop needs to talk to the CEOs of the US carriers and ask them what does Nokia need to do to get their business, etc.. (and let me re-iterate, Nokia would not restore US market presence by joining Android or Phone 7, that would be a suicidal move - and the decision for how well Nokia sells is only decided by the US carriers because in the USA most premium phones are sold with subsidy, so no matter how great Android or Phone 7 phones Nokia might create, if the carriers don't subsidise Nokia, they would be useless..).
But for general recommendations, I think the above are mostly 'obvious' marketing stuff, segmentation, and they would go a long way to restoring Nokia's reputation and have Nokia owners proudly showing their phones and help the youth discover a new funkier more cool Nokia too.
So my advice? Return to many normal Nokia standards, that used Nokia's strengths especially its scale. Allow colors, celebrate colors, especially in top-end phones for professionals too. Return to a broad rich product portfolio with every feature and every option, but do it intelligently, with platforms. Return the iconic N93 and Communicator form factors that allow far more of Nokia's core competence - hardware engineering - to be showcased than in the ultra-slim N8 ie iPhone form factor which forces severe compromises. Have a mocking, disparaging iPhone counter-marketing strategy that highlights how inferior that phone actually is as it has had to cut everything from it. Offer a new product line for the youth in X-Series. Do the normal marketing work through segmentation, target markets, from the elderly to the poor and not forgetting the ultra-wealthy who 'just want the best' and really don't care if the phone costs 500 dollars or 1,000 dollars. Work in every way to delight the customer, remove all those little stupid pain points of causing disappointment. Help the consumer fall in love with Nokia again.
Thats what I'd do. And while some at Nokia will be reading this long meandering, and at times painful blog, I know their engineering minds will know better, they will think, that they can think it through and create a perfect solution, so they will mostly ignore my blog haha. Thats the life of the pundit. But it was an interesting thought-exercise, thanks for being with me to read through it.
I think these changes would go a very long way to restoring the love of Nokia. But what do you think? I know this was no way the complete answer, I would love to hear from readers what are your ideas, what did I miss (and what you think of mine).. Just one request - do not suggest abandoning Symbian/MeeGo and going Android or Phone 7, ok, that is not the subject of this blog and I won't tolerate wasting my readers time if you start to explain why you think changing the OS now would somehow help.
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