MWC: What device highlights did you miss?

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The writing is on the wall.

Well, it’s not quite on the wall.  It’s actually been re-painted because nobody’s bothered., one of the well-known Nokia enthusiast sites has shut it’s doors today.

In the headline above, I paraphrased the site’s co-founder, Dan Carter.  I should be explicit and say that he didn’t actually say, “there’s nothing to write about”.  No, it’s actually worse.  A lot worse.  In his final post, Dan explains that the key reason for closing the site is because, “Nokia have stopped being as creative as they once were.”

Dan goes on to cite bug-filled £500 devices and the Nokia N97 in particular.  The main issue for Dan though was content:

All the [Nokia] phones ended up feeling pretty much the same due to the tired Symbian OS.”

Dan then points out how Android came from nowhere to version 2.2 in just two years, with the chaps behind it iterating fast in response to user and developer feedback.

Dan finishes his explanation with this statement:

“Other players have moved with the times and Nokia is still dragging it’s heels, you only need to see the large quantity of Nokia fans who have parted ways with the company and moved onto a different platform such as Android or iPhone.”

Dan’s not alone in pointing this out. Micky over at NokiaDNA raised the same issue a week or so ago too.

What are the implications of this news?

It’s a serious, serious problem.  The online media landscape is perfectly fine when it comes to Android and iPhone.  There are hundreds of sites, big and small, catering to almost every element of those platforms.  There were a lot focused around Nokia, but over the years their owners moved on to pastures new.  Indeed, many of those running some of the larger iPhone, Android or mobile generalist sites actually cut their teeth with a Nokia-related site.

Online economics make the publishing of content a bit of a mug’s game. You really have to either be doing it for the fun of it, or be utterly serious and follow the click-through crowd, which means churning releases and news as quickly as possible.  For that reason, the vast majority of sites focused around Nokia news and opinion are more or less voluntary.  Oh, there might be some revenue from Google or the like — but the revenue isn’t usually enough to support the income requirements of one or two editorial staff.

Dwindling Ecosystem

Nokia has been working hard with it’s own Conversations site and with it’s social media entity, WOMWorld.  Those sites are good, however they’re heavily reliant on an ecosystem of sites to help act as both an echo-chamber (retweeting and re-publishing Nokia’s own news) and providing fodder for the Conversations and WOMWorld editors to re-publish and cite.

That ever dwindling ecosystem is now reduced by one this evening.  That’s one less guy to rave about the N8.  (I mean seriously ‘rave’, rather than just cover it and dismiss it because it’s Nokia and Symbian).  That’s one less guy to cheer-lead Nokia’s achievements and defend the company’s detractors (i.e. almost the whole market, now!).  It’s also one less chap to come along to the Nokia World events and find out what the company’s doing.  And it’s one less guy to write creative, helpful content for Nokia users searching Google for help.  More than once have I actually ended-up on a post thanks to a Google search — and found myself delighted that Dan decided to write a post that answered my query exactly.  Nokia has lost a brilliant (and entirely free) resource to help them sell more mobile phones.

Share price effecting?

Oh don’t get me wrong, I do not expect to see Nokia close down 10 points because of this news.  The company’s already in the doldrums.  But why is this still a critical issue?  Well, it’s simple:  It’s a reflection of Nokia’s current position and reputation in the Western market.  And don’t tell me that market is irrelevant to you, Nokia.  It’s not.  It’s utterly critical — you just haven’t seen the results of it yet.

Things have to be pretty bad when the guy who founded a site named WorldofNokia decides not to bother any more.  It’s even worse when he’s not alone.  Gerry Moth, another noted Nokia enthusiast shuttered his NokiaAddict site recently in favour of a more generic brand. How long until Rafe Blandford re-focuses the almighty All About Symbian?

I saw Rafe with an HTC Desire the other week, that’s all I’m saying.  😉

It’s not all bad news

No, it’s not all bad news. Dan is going to continue to be writing about mobile atCoolSmartphone.  I’m sure he’ll keep one eye on Nokia now and again.

Every success Dan!


  1. THere’s a much easier explanation (and more likely too). Nokia is making phones for the “mass market”. Mass market does not follow niche-tech blogs. ’nuff said.

  2. Oh, don't be so dramatic, Ewan. It's not a “serious, serious problem”. And Nokia fan sites come and go on a regular basis. I've been in the industry since 1993.

    Nokia and Symbian have been well aware of the areas they need to improve in for several years. And, while they work along these lines, their low cost Symbian smartphones have been dominating world sales.

    Or maybe your newsletter was designed purely to provoke reaction?

  3. Nice post Ewan. You're right when you say that this is a “sign” when someone who used to talk about Nokia product is leaving the boat.
    This is what recently happened to one of my best editor on but how can I blame him ?
    I personally switched to Blackberry and Android as primary devices but keep on covering Symbian news thinking that great things can still happen. But how long will I keep the faith ?

  4. I don't know Steve – I'm one of those running one of the “…hundreds of sites, big and small, catering to almost every element of platforms” – in my case the iPhone. A small site such as mine is a labour of err…affection, because the money's certainly not there!

    I stuck with Nokia through a few S60 devices, but they lost their gadget mojo. There isn't the momentum around Symbian that there used to be. iPhone & Android inspire the hotness these days. Yes, this is possibly a US-centric view, but when was the last time you heard anyone say “I simply must have that new Symbian phone!”. Mindshare can be as important as market share.

    Symbian does very well in the low cost line, but they leave themselves open to severe pressure from above, especially as Android continues its march onto ever more commodity hardware.

    Don't get me wrong – I think Nokia make fantastic devices, so long as we're focussed on hardware. The next iteration of Symbian cannot come soon enough, but it's not just about the OS. The ecosystem needs to be developed to a point where normobs can know they can easily get all the apps they need on a phone from Nokia.

  5. We're not talking about a small fan site with 10 posts, Steve. I'm talking about a committed pro-Nokia fanatic who was so 'pro Nokia' that he was moved to establish a site about the company. I'm talking about a chap who, up until today, could be *counted upon* to deliver (fairly positive) news and opinion about the latest company products and services. I'm talking about a chap who has given up on Nokia. He's not given up on mobile. He's given up on Nokia! I regularly used Dan's site for various Nokia answers — his site appeared top of the rankings for a lot of the queries I've done. That resource is being switched off.

    Why is this a serious issue? Because it's a reflection of Nokia's brand capital in the West. It's absolutely not a problem for Nokia right now. They will continue to ship a million units today, tomorrow and so on for a long time yet. However when the marketplace looks to make it's mind up on the next step, one small element of that collective mind — WorldofNokia — will no longer be present.

    One of the reasons I pointed this out in — as you put it — a dramatic fashion — is because a heck of a lot of Nokia employees, particularly the senior guys, simply don't understand the shift in brand perception that's taking/taken place in respect to Nokia. Today's news is a stunning illustration of that.

  6. Great post Ewan, and glad to see you picked up my post about this too.

    It is a sad state of affairs when people who were once passionate about Nokia, losing their passion, but as said, many people are simply tired of waiting, or disgruntled about Nokia's expensive flagship device/s being well below par compared to the competition.

    Competition, this is something Nokia need to compete against, not just try and catch up, they have been making mobile devices long enough, they should be leap frogging over the competition, but is it too late? A lot of people believe it is too late, and what exactly can Nokia do now to do just that? Leap frog over the competition that is.

    As you know, I write for as well as my own blog NokiaDNA, and I too have found myself with very little positive news to write about, and in fact, its effecting me personally too, as I own Nokia's flagship device, the flawed N97, and although I have given this device more chances than what most people would be prepared to do, its wearing me down. I simply want my £500 device to work, and not have to keep resetting it, and trying to optimize what little resources it has all the time, its an embarrassment.

    I read daily of other N97 owners too who are simply fed up with their device, and talk of moving, jumping ship, saying the N97 was the last nail in the coffin so to speak.

    Nokia really need to act now, they know they are in hot water, and they know they cocked up with the N97, but what exactly are they doing to recover their lost fan base? Time will tell. I want them to release a new, powerful QWERTY device, a device the N97 should of been.

  7. (Sorry this was meant as a reply to the actual article) …

    Interesting post. I'm in a similar situation myself. Nokia Creative has been going for strong for years, but it's getting harder to find thrilling things to write about, the N8 should provide a good shot in the arm, so to speak.

    The Nokia buzz started to diminish around the middle of 2008. Personally, I don't think the buzz *died* as such — in many ways Nokia is doing more things right now than it has in previous years — rather, I think the buzz was drowned out in the U.S. and Europe by a much larger noise being created by the iPhone and more recently, and to a much lesser extent, by Android.

    I think history will show 2008 as an inflection point in the history of computing. The iPhone/App Store combo created the very first viable pocket computer platform. Computing (at least as we have come to expect it) is not Nokia's core strength, this has become clear over the last couple of years. Nokia are not alone though. RIM seem to be about to enter a tough period too and for very similar reasons.

    For all its talk of open technologies, multiple OS strategies and internet services, Nokia often seem insecure, unsure even. I think they themselves realise that they have been outsmarted by some of the computing giants, but they don't seem quite sure how to catch up, which path to take. Note that I said that this is how they *appear*. I know geeks like to point out that appearances don't actually matter, but the truth is that they really do, very much so in fact.

    I think it's time Nokia spent some time and money promoting their brand rather than their products and services. Make a clear statement through mainstream advertising — something of a Nokia brand reboot. Run this 'statement' for 3 months or so then follow it up with a big push around just one single hot product and go from there.

    One final point. Why close the blog, why not just keep it on ice? Can anyone be 100% certain of what the future holds? Seems rather shortsighted to actually shut the thing down with a final post.

  8. I was actually going to say the same thing — I think it's definitely worth keeping the site 'live' provided it's not costing too much for hosting. If it is, then — Dan — I'll offer to host it for free to keep it live.

  9. I don't think this is a big deal in the slightest. Geeks are notoriously fickle, and on the whole removed from the consumer mindset. What you and all the rest are missing Ewan (and others agreeing with you) is the notion of 'ebb and flow'. Nokia have slipped a bit in geek mindshare at the moment. So what? Zoom out, look at the big picture. The trouble with geeks, and blogs run by them, is they can only see to the end of their noses.

    I totally agree, if Nokia don't turn things around they are sunk. But on earth makes everyone think they will not turn things around? Nokia's obvious awareness of it's perceived problems across the company, and it's history, and the AMAZING things coming across the Symbian Foundation, Nokia, S^3 and S^4 (the first small sign of which is the N8) show things will flow back in favour of Nokia even though it has been on a slight ebb (from a geek viewpoint) recently.

    All these naysayers make me laugh. There's the small minded disgruntled geeks who jump ship to Android and iPhone (and then often realise how they did indeed judge a book by it's cover, and regret it), and there's the blunt reality of Nokia smartphone sales rising 35% in the last year (on their already huge sales). And the fact that their smartphone market share grew in the pre-Christmas quarter while iPhone remained flat.

    I know you love sensationalist but meaningless stories such as this one Ewan and those with an anti-Nokia chip on their shoulder weigh in in the comments, but reality is something quite separate, thank goodness 🙂

  10. ahm, “All the [Nokia] phones ended up feeling pretty much the same due to the tired Symbian OS.”? Isn’t that the same thing Android hopes to achieve? I mean Android didn’t come along and say “we want to make an OS that’s unique to every phone”. Heck no! They wanted a consistent user experience regardless of manufacturer.

    Tsk tsk tsk… I just get a feeling he’s gonna shoot himself on the foot one day by saying those exact same words about Android many years from now and the next OS that comes along.


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