The Nokia Mindset

Hello I've been thinking lately about a few thing that surfaced from reading Conversations (nokia's old blog, I read it almost entirely back in high school) about how they approach their job.

The Nokia Mindset

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I've been thinking lately about a few thing that surfaced from reading Conversations (nokia's old blog, I read it almost entirely back in high school) about how they approach their job.

Here are a few observations I had:

(for now, they are about prime Nokia, but they also may concern HMD):

  1. Nokia was big on the low-end. They seemed to be absolutely passionate about it, they put a lot of effort in it, and they wanted everyone (and especially tech journalists) to care about the low-end more. They saw their entry-level phones as their most important products.
  2. Because of that, Nokia generally postponed a new feature until they could bring it to all of their lineup simultaneously. They didn't put it in the high-end and then a few years later in the rest if it got cheaper. Example:
  3. As such, Nokia would generally inaugurate a range with a midrange phone (like the 5800, the Lumia 800...).
  4. Thus, Nokia didn't really understand the concept of flagship. No criticism here, it just didn't mesh with their worldview; they saw the high end as a niche at best.
  5. Even more alien to Nokia was the idea that flagship owners were entitled to better services. (I remember this one, when I had a Lumia 520, I always got the Cyan/Denim/… updates before people who owned Lumia 930s and the like, which made them salty to say the least. A common argument: "but flagship owners are REAL Nokia fans". So was I, I just didn't have the money.)

Now, HMD is mostly made of the same people, so it seems they have kept the mentality. Personally, I love it, but whether or not you do, without it Nokia wouldn't be Nokia. Maybe this is why Nokia failed in 2013, but this is certainly also how they won in the 2000s, and the market is no longer as flagship-oriented as it was in the early 2010s.

I hope this can help shed some light on what HMD does today. (Really, read the Conversations, it's still online, and you'll understand a lot. Like not being disappointed by the Cairo event for the Nokia 2.3, a very typical Nokia thing. The 620 or 501 or even the 1280 all got their own keynotes.)

Any thoughts?

 (and please tell me if I'm wrong)


  • dbs dbs
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    I agree with somethings, I disagree with others.

    1. This I agree. Nokia did focus a lot on the low end, specially in the Windows Phone Era. And that had a reason: by offering good, cheap low end devices, people would be more easily enticed to try out a Windows Phone in a market where smartphone was synonymous with iPhone and Galaxy.
    2. The postponing of features was more related to the immense scale that Nokia had back then (when that post was written, Nokia was still the number 1 phone maker in the world). When you have such a massive user base, it's very complicated to discriminate users without backlash. You see the same thing on Samsung today, for example. The Galaxy S line has more hardware features than the A line or the defunct J line. But they are all hardware not software. If a Galaxy S10 can do something a Galaxy A80 can't, it's because the S10 has some hardware feature that the A80 lacks. Nokia was the same. They would distribute as much features as possible to everyone of their phones as long as the hardware allowed.
    3. Yes, but not always. The first Lumia, the Nokia L800 was launched as a flagship for example. Then they came up with the 900 for North America but that was basically the same phone just bigger.
    4. They did understand the concept, but they sold so many units of mid-rangers and low-end that they never really needed to bother with the concept. Flagships are what generate most money to OEMs because they're the ones which have a larger profit margin. Nokia generated so much money that they didn't need a flagship to do it. That's why they were rarer and when they existed, they went all out (like the Nokia 8800 Sirocco).
    5. This wasn't my experience at all. Updates were normally sent first to the flagships and then to the low end. However, because some people bought phones from carriers, the time or arrival wasn't always the same. Nokia, however, did have an approach that didn't favour flagship owners in favour of owners of cheaper phones. And that was perfectly understandable. The majority of Nokia owners weren't flagship owners and Nokia didn't need their money. They could afford to mistreat flagship buyers in favour of the cheaper ones. Well...until the moment they didn't and things turned sour. That's however, also what sealed their doom. When Nokia began to sink, their last salvation for profitability would have been flagship buyers. So you got the Lumia 920, 930, 1520, 1020...problem is, by then it was too late. Flagship buyers had already jumped to the competition that delivered them the special treatment they'd expect for the money they paid, and the ones who remained (like me) weren't enough to make them turn-around.

    HMD does follow a very similar path, indeed. And that's exactly the problem with HMD. They haven't learned a single thing from Nokia's mistakes. They're making them ALL, all over again:

    1. They ignore market trends until it's too late
    2. They are relying on someone else to take care of the software for them and if that someone else doesn't do anything, HMD won't either. This was a problem with Windows Phone (where Nokia couldn't change anything and had to wait for Microsoft to do it, much to the frustration of Nokia's engineers and product managers) and they're now doing the same with Google, by adopting "pure Android" and refusing to fix anything Google does or add to it (except this time they're being bound to Google by the stubbornness of their CPO, which, to me, should have been replaced a long time ago).
    3. They deliver the same software experience to a 100€ phone that they do to a 700€ one. Android One tells people "yeah, you're getting the same barebones experience on your 700€ phone as the person who only spend 99€ on their phone". So flagship buyers will, again, not buy their phones because they're not willing to be mistreated. The difference is that Nokia could afford to do that in the beginning. HMD can't afford to do that at all.
    4. They just don't listen to consumers (the amount of complaints about poor quality control, bugs, missing features etc is staggering).
    5. They oversaturate the market with phones, barely indistinguishable from each other. HMD's current line up has A TON of models and even I can't tell you the difference between a 4.3 and a 3.2 other than "it has a different design".
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