This is an open letter to Mr. Ukko Lappalainen, the head man at Nokia's Nseries division. I wrote this in a heated mood a couple days ago, and am just posting it due to work on my prototype design. Read on:
Dear Mr. Ukko Lappalainen,
I write this open letter to you mostly on behalf of myself, but largely for the Symbian Freak community, the Nokia user community, the smartphone community, and the computing community as a whole. I don't believe everyone will subscribe to all of my views, as no one man can accurately represent the entire dynamic of mankind. I intend to speak for mobile consumers, Nokia fanboys and evangelists, and the avid mobile computing enthusiasts.
It is my understanding that Nokia has made it your responsibility to nurture and build the Nseries brand. If this is the case, and you would be willing to accept credit for the current Nseries devices available, then I hope you are prepared to accept any blames associated with those same devices. Yours is a very honorable, important, and even, in my opinion, hallowed position not only in the industry, but also the minds of tech gurus and mobile enthusiasts.
I doubt you lack your share of complaints, as the Nseries user group is a large and diverse body, and it'd be nearly impossible to please them all. But expecting Nokia to maintain a brand philosophy and direction in a particular manner is not alot to ask, especially with the trust and loyalty consumers bestow upon Nokia. Regardless what you must provide by law, consumer relations are mostly a good faith undertaking. You provide a certain level of service and product, follow a specific philosophy designed around serving your customers and growing the company, and continue to live up to that undertaking, and consumers will continue to show loyalty. Its as simple as that.
My main intent of this letter is to help you succeed any way I can. My daily happiness is almost directly affected by Nokia Nseries devices. I love few things in life more than my Nokia mobile multimedia computer. I feel as long as you succeed, my chances to continue using the greatest convergence devices greatly increase. Mostly for this reason I will explain some things, and suggest possible moves to accelerate Nokia's growth and marketshare, as well as add prestige and industry bragging rights to the Nokia and Symbian mantle.
To truly understand how to manage the Nseries brand, there has to be an identity check to define what it can and can't be. Initially, the Nseries represented the most connected devices available with bleeding edge technology, unique selling points centered around that bleeding edge technology, the best wow factor, and an exclusive spec sheet. It was the hot rodder's device, and the power user's choice. Gadget lovers would accept no less.
Today, there are not enough new ways of connectivity, bleeding edge hardware components, or major Nseries specific components, and very little wow factor. Non-Nseries devices like the 6220 outperform Nseries models like the N78. We've added microUSB 2.0, but no digital video out, microphone input, Firewire, or other cutting edge connection. High resolution screen addicts have turned a collective nose at the Nseries, which ignores the screen aspect altogether, staying in the QVGA dungeon, while competitors announce high res "HD" versions to die for. Certain models have no Carl Zeiss lenses, like the N81, while some non-Nseries models like the 6220 do. How can a non-Nseries be exceeded in performance? The Nseries label is a premium brand, much like BMW's M motorsport division's models. BMW would never allow a 3series model to outperform an M3 on any aspect under any circumstances except energy consumption. And where's the wow factor? My device looks like everyone else's. And the new devices are prettier, lower powered, battery miser versions of our old devices, whereas old Nseries devices were recognizable and special, unlike anything else available.
The morale in the premium gadget community is at a major low. Nokia owns this genre, and that lead is a large reason for Nokia's recent growth and marketshare. Make no mistake, consumers want what their techie friends, employees, and gadget lovers have. They may not choose an Nseries because of price or availability, but based upon their perceived to be more knowledgable associate's device, users will associate that brand with superiority and technology. Steve Jobs has milked his Apple success of the 80's for decades this very way, and his face makes people feel his ideas are innovative and ahead of the curve, despite the fact that isn't always true.
There is a certain amount of prestige associated with technological prowess, achievement, and the perception of being the best. It is an asset that must be nurtured and maintained once achieved, just like any other Nokia investment, because investor dollars made those devices and gained those consumers. Consumers expect Nokia to innovate and progress on the hardware end, too, not just software and services end. Being number one means remaining the leader in software and hardware. Nokia's software and services are a beautiful thing indeed. But the goal is to put these services in users hands. As mobile web browsers progress, this will be easier to do, but for now, Nokia's devices are ground zero. With better hardware offerings from competitors, and no clues of a future of anything contrary, hardcore consumers will defect to that perceived best device.
You have to feed the need, not the shelves. Listen to consumers. And make Nseries like Centrino, a specific and expected hardware platform that all models must meet or exceed. Do not allow any competitor to exceed your hardware specs ever. Once they approach your level, plan the succeeding level and implement it. Like the N96, having no lens cover after all the outcry during the initial prototype showings. Adaptability and preparedness are important to keep the lead.
Nokia has made a big mistake in its American initiative. In America, there are only two major GSM carriers, with nearly 113 million subscribers. Of that 113 million, 38 million are T-MobileUSA subscribers, who, as you know, are bringing their mobile broadband network online as we speak. T-MobileUSA is the mecca for unlocked device users, most importantly the N95-1. Their network has been the highest rated in the country, along with its customer relations, for years on end. Their policies make unlocked devices an optimal choice. Seeing that Nokia has mostly sold unlocked Nseries devices in the US, why haven't Nseries devices supported the AWS frequencies allocated for 3G in 2006 while Nokia helped build T-Mobile's very network that needed it? Why is a crowd of 38 million GSM subscribers looking for 3G devices not being served by Nokia? Why do most of the bloggers that watch the Nseries brand subscribe to T-MobileUSA, but the NAM models only support at&t's lowest rated network? It forces us to leave our beloved network for a wretched, low capacity, higher priced alternative, losing all loyalty benefits and even coverage area, not to mention the high quality Nokia built AWS 3G system.
The obvious solution is to make all unlocked devices with quadband 3G radio, with 850/1700/1900/2100MHz radios. This gives you a bigger prospective audience, network neutrality, which can be a selling point during price sensitive times in America. Asking people who buy Nseries devices to pick the carrier Nokia chooses is near blasphemous. Most people buying unlocked do so to save money by shopping around for carriers and rates at will, and at&t is not a money saving option at any level. A campaign educating users on the benefits of going with unlocked devices along with a quadband 3G radio would make immense progress in America.
How do you expect to sell devices in America without marketing? In America, marketing is almost political. You must act and react. Apple made false claims of being the only device to access YouTube, while I watched it on my N95-1. Where was the lie exposing rebuttal?? Apple was allowed to grow unfettered. Nokia does little to advertise the Nseries in America. Its a sad sight to see crowds surrounding the iPhone booth, playing with the actual device, while the N95-4, or actually a plastic model device with a simulated screen image, sits ignored on the shelf, sans spec sheet, but with a ghastly $749 price tag. With no widespread American knowledge of Nseries or Symbian, better product awareness, demonstrations at real stores like Fry's and Best Buy, not the couple of Nokia Flagship stores, real devices, not mockups, and actual TV commercials, even if they're official sanctioned YouTube spoofs similar to those by Ricky Cadden, aka Symbian Guru. You can't come into America's homes without being introduced.
I haven't been wowed in awhile. And I'm beginning to doubt Nokia will remain in the business of creating those wows anymore. This may just be a lack of creative thinking, however, and perhaps an outside catalyst can ignite innovation. This is where I ultimately intend to extend a hand.
I decided a few days ago while eating a pizza to try to design my own device, since Nokia has no idea what gadget freaks like me and the Symbian Freak community wish for. After sketching on the pizza box, whipping out my calipers, compass, and protractor, I came up with what I believe to be the greatest concept gadget ever conceived. Its innovative, unique, and distinguishable from anything anyone is creating in the industry. I feel it is easily mass constructable using current technologies and materials. Its exactly the type of wow the entire gadget community has wished for.
I started with sketches and ideas on that very pizza box, enlisted a buddy of mine for the initial 3D graphic rendering, and ended with an ultimate opportunity. I want this device, or one of similar intentions, made soon, and preferably by Nokia. But if Nokia is no longer of the motivation to feed the foundation of their fanbase, others will be allowed the opportunity to innovate as well.
I am releasing this concept as an open source idea to be expanded by any OEM using a smartphone platform. I could easily sell this concept for financial benefit, since I'm currently unemployed, but my motive goes beyond money, to my deepest passion for cutting edge technology. All I ask is my contribution not go uncompensated if serious development or commercial release of my design is planned. A job would be a decent token, too. Since Symbian and Android are the face of open source, I assume Android-using manufacturers will find this opportunity just as attractive, so innovative hardware will probably be the distinguishing factor.
I truly hope my letter will add to Nokia's ability to serve consumers and bolster the Nseries brand image. I hope things begin to look better from our perspective, and Nokia retains the tech innovation crown it deserves. I look forward to a future where Symbian is the computing OS of choice, Nseries devices are considered premium and better than anything else, and mobile devices truly wow and excite us all.
Chris aka christexaport
Below are preliminary images of my design. I've worked tirelessly for nearly a week to get it to this point, all using paper and pencil ( until the final 3D images, which took less than 2 hours). Hopefully they will attract a fabricator, and we'll once again be proud of Nokia's leading technology, or another innovator will show up and bring smiles to the faces of freaks the world over.
The N-XT mobile multimedia computer focused on media sharing and creation. It is meant to be cutting edge, innovative, and full featured, aspiring to be both a mobile communicator and a primary computing platform. It takes a bold stance as it debuts a new eye-catching form factor, the transforming slider. In compact form, the device exposes a mini projector on its right spine. The screen surface slides upward, then flips forward and atop the device, forming a T-shape. The screen surface it then rotated 90 degrees clockwise, exposing the camera on the left spine of the device. This places the widescreen in perfect landscape position, great as a camera or camcorder view finder.
The N-XT is a technological benchmark, with a proposed spec sheet match its fancy form factor. Some of the hardware highlights include the following:
I hope my imagination inspires the entire gadget community, and rejuvenates the Symbian Freak and Nokia user communities in doing so. The Symbian Freak community is the pinnacle of gadget freaking and innovation amongst users and developers. This shall be a continuation and development of that spirit, and I hope to be credited with restoring confidence in innovation and technical creativity. Freak For Life!
Check that out, all you guys in Helsinki. If you like it, let Nokia and the Nseries team know!