A few weeks ago, Nokia Connects held a media contest to award tickets, travel and accomodation for some lucky blogger to express why he or she was excited about Nokia World 2011. I already had all that covered, but gave it a shot just in case my wife or a friend could use the prize. Worth a try, right?
Granted, my entry began by addressing cynicism, some personal but largely general, which had to make it a long-shot. I walked readers through my Nokia journey for this year, with the aim of providing an objective yet ultimately optimistic view of the company’s prospects.
I didn’t win that prize, but I do feel like a winner after having joined around 4000 other skeptics and enthusiasts at one of the largest product launch events of the year. Nokia didn’t disappoint, either: not only was the much-anticipated Lumia 800 formally acknowledged, but a compelling sister product (the 710) and a new feature phone line (Asha) made their debuts as well. There were no surprises for me with Lumia; the sharp Nokia blogging community had already pegged the critical details. But Asha was a pleasant revelation– I had been so focused on Nokia’s work on the high end that if there were signs of Asha’s existence prior to the event I completely missed them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The personal high point for me was being invited, along with 34-or-so other Nokia Developer Champions, to arrive a day early for a special mini-event targeted specifically at us and by extension the developer community at large. As important as the Big Show was, I believe community outreach to be equally critical. Let’s all be honest: some Nokia moves and statements since late 2010 have cast a pall over its otherwise-stalwart developer armies, especially those in the Qt camp. While many Nokia developers are certainly interested in adding Windows Phone to their arsenal, some have balked for one reason or another. Nokia’s challenge is to make sure a sufficient effort is put forward toward developers feeling skittish or disenfranchised, as the company can ill-afford any more negative publicity. Getting more behind developers and providing them a path to Nokia’s future will be much-needed goodwill.
Super-developers like Simon Botes have been successful at getting their products downloaded, but struggle at monetization. During our Developer Day, Nokia’s Kenny Mathers and Reggie Hutcherson assured us that this is a key component of their strategy. Hopefully we’ll hear more on that very soon…the survey we were sent afterward certainly asked all the right questions.
The Nokia Developer Team is to be commended for putting this day (including an evening mixer afterward) together. Handing out beautiful black N9s was just icing on the cake. Next: more regional events, please, especially across the US! It’s all about engagement.
Which brings us back to the main event. As awed as I was by the glitz and glam of that important opening keynote, what I found really assuring and exciting was a well-received live feed of Lumia product being packaged for shipment at the Salo factory. This is precisely what Nokia needed to connect with the skeptics. Not some pointless dog and pony show, but rather, a nuts-and-bolts example of something tangible.
As usual, for me the best part of any event is socializing. Nokia World was an excellent opportunity for me to share thoughts with friends and meet new people with a fascination for All Things Nokia in common. Yes, sometimes that fascination follows a cynical twist but even detractors freely admit that Nokia has many strengths. For one, the sexy designs of the N9 and Lumia 800 were a hot topic of discussion. And even those searching for flaws in Windows Phone 7.5 had to settle for minor gripes– if there are any showstopping-defects, I didn’t see or hear of them.
I can’t say the experience was 100% positive, however. Communications (wifi and cellular) were horrible to non-existent throughout most of the show… not a good indication of Nokia Connecting People. I was told 2010 suffered the same issues, and I sure hope this is resolved by 2012. It’s embarrassing. But not as awful as the Monster-made headphones that were revealed. Ack. Too glossy, too bulky. Sorry, I don’t see these coordinating with the sleek Lumia phones.
Still, I’m newly enthused about Nokia’s prospects, even though I’ll admit to some discouragement over the move away from mobile Linux. But I’m a ten-thousand-foot technologist, and don’t get as religious about platforms as I do platform philosophies. I think now that Nokia’s thoughts are on a good track. That’s a good feeling for this fan and stockholder. ;)