Nokia and the burning platform

Mr Stephen Elop of Nokia leaked published an internal memo (full memo) stating the poor situation Nokia is currently in. It's a very nice and interesting read, fueling a lot of speculation on the future of Nokia and a possible adoption of Android or Windows Phone 7. Independent of the direction Nokia won't be the same anymore and it will take time before we get used to the new Nokia. It will create reactions like: My girlfriend once said; it's like your car when once getting into a rental Skoda (I was driving an Audi at that time) or it will feel like a Jaguar being a Ford Mondeo with a doubled price tag.

My favorite sentence of the memo is: Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications.

This sentence is not about Apple, but it very specifically describes the shift we seeing in the overall industry. It's about designing for great experiences (and giving this priority over features) fueling customer value (the willingness to pay) and building an eco system. In the last 20 years of software development it has been very much focussed around features and functions, because they could easily represent the value of the product. In the last few years a clear shift is happening, together with a daily information overload many people start to value the overall experience at an emotional level. This is a natural process in a maturing industry. When Henry Ford introduced the T-Ford you could get it any color as long it was black. Today a Fiat 500 offers so many personalization options with colors, striping, interior, etc. to make it exactly match your personality and emotional well being. Another analogy is a restaurant that is not only valued on the food, but also on the emotional experience and atmosphere. Apple was just a head of the curve with the trend to design for experience giving them the early mover advantage. The competition now needs to catch up, because excellent experiences have become mainstream standards and expectations.

Nokia has actually well designed hardware, but the overall experience is poor and years behind todays users expectations. Nokia might be able the fix it with some radical steps and acceptance that Nokia, in the last few years, completely ignored the user experiences. It needs to step away from good is good enough, it needs to idolize design into the finest detail and refuse to make any compromises towards the user. This will have a serious impact on all staff layers in the company and cause more turbulence before the way up can be found.

I'm happy to see that Mr Stephen Elop understands that doing noting or just keeping the ship floating will mean a sure death. Actually there is noting to loose, because it's lost already. However there is still, although small, change to win some back. A while back I offered some help, because I truly believe that I'm disruptive enough to break down some barriers and make some radical decisions.

Mr. Stephen Elop, this is an honest offer, because I do care about Nokia.

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