Is it bad that I was so apathetic about early Nokia World talk this year? After all, I blog a great deal about the company… mostly around business practices, community and technology. I should cover an event this important. But I’m not a device reviewer per se, which probably explains why I never get invitations to these shindigs. Which probably explains the apathy.
Even without all that, though, just from an end user standpoint I have had difficulty getting fired up over the London event. Just as Nokia can’t seem to get fired up about its end users. Seems the sentiment is returned according to the screen snag shown.
Oops, cheap shot. I don’t want to turn this into yet another bashing-cum-analysis piece. After witnessing the Nokia World twitterflood from excited folks like Jay Montano and Matt Miller and remembering my recent vow to look for the positive, I figured what the heck– do a remote write-up on the affair, Day 1 at least. Google would provide my virtual ticket.
Passion and Politics
Of course the show was preceded by two noteworthy dramas in their own right: the replacement of OPK and the announced imminent flight of Anssi Vanjoki. OPK was a NokiaWorld no-show, and I’ve seen comments about Anssi’s apparent disinterest there. Not surprising. It can’t be easy to stay enthusiastic about sticking with a company for months after a severance announcement. Anssi has six of them to detach himself, but it’s only natural to start early.
The Nokia board of directors had to be aware that his departure would likely result after being passed over for the CEO spot, so they took a calculated risk. Recruiting Peter Skillman of Palm design fame could mitigate that. Anyway here’s hoping they know what they’re doing. My NOK stock is still down.
Powering up Performance
Nokia has misfired on devices the past couple of years. Not the bread-and-butter cell phones– they still permeate the planet in highly-churnable handsets. Rather, the flagship devices that they really can’t afford to screw up. The frustrating part for loyal Nokia customers is that these mistakes have been in the basics: memory, processor speed, and other areas where expectations are naturally high for a high-end device. Small, no-brainer elements.
So it’s encouraging to see words like “snappy” used to describe performance of the devices showcased at NokiaWorld this year. As much as I enjoy my third N900, its disturbing tendency toward naps at the worst possible time gets a little aggravating. A recent survey from Nokia marketing asking for feedback on multitasking gives me hope that performance is finally being given proper consideration– a good thing, as I see this to be an important differentiator in a world of commodity smartphones.
The new devices have the right lines, too. Nokia’s E-series devices have always looked good, its N-series occasionally so, and it’s a relief to see the perfect combination of sleek and solid on display this year. And speaking of display, I’m very impressed by Nokia’s stunning, sunlight-defying Clear Black Display technology. THAT is a compelling feature, folks!
Services and Software
New gadgets are always fun and necessary in this business, but I was most interested in hearing about services. After Nokia announced the cancellation of Ovi Files I was already braced for more of the same.
The fancy new splash screen at ovi.com (no change to the login screen, though, despite great need) was one indication that Ovi had gotten at least a little love. But even better: Maps 3.06 was announced. Support for social networks like Facebook was added, and even though I don’t use the service, I can easily see the value.
Note that the practically-abandoned N900 is not in the list of devices to get this update. In fact the only mention of Maemo (or MeeGo) at all was to state that there would be no mention. It’s all saved for MeeGo Conference 2010 this November. I’m anticipating big things (and I should be there).
I want to be more positive in summing up impressions of Nokia World 2010 but the best I can manage is mild relief. Maybe one had to be there to share the real energy. But I can’t get past the fact that the #nokiaworld hashtag didn’t come close to trending on Twitter, whereas Steve Jobs could insult an iPhone user and outscore Justin Bieber. And 1492 Likes on the event website (see graphic above). Ouch.
But at the lowest threshold of business viability, Nokia just had to Not Screw Up on Day 1. They pulled that off, and demonstrated solid promise with the new devices and improved services. Hopefully Day 2 will have more of the same.
Anyway… how did I do? Not bad for someone who didn’t attend, eh?