The community forum

Join the conversation

I have to speak up as a "hero" - Year 1 HMD community engagement scorecard

Community Hero

Hi Laura,

Since I have this "community hero" tag I might as well try and use it for the benefit of the community, otherwise it will become more and more of a joke (at least, I'm pretty sure that's how many others see it and I don't really understand what it's supposed to represent).

Things aren't getting better. By this I mean that HMD have recently done a number of things which have had a negative impact on the community. Some are conscious decisions by HMD leadership, others are mistakes.

1. Bootloaders:

  • Almost one year ago HMD said it would allow customers to unlock the bootloaders of their phones; we interpreted this to mean that within a few months HMD would provide an official, sanctioned and user friendly way for people to unlock the bootloaders
  • This hasn't happened. Even worse:
  • The unofficial method of unlocking the bootloader has been removed by the August security patch - this is well explained in the blog post by Seppe Baelus.
  • So, almost one year from the statement by HMD on Twitter, we actually have less than we did a year ago - neither an unofficial nor an official way to unlock the bootloader
  • 0/10 for community engagement there, mainly the fault of HMD leadership.

2. The community forum:
  • Thank you for setting up the community forums. The software isn't the best and your team is severely under-resourced, but at least we have a place to hang out together and share our wants, desires, frustrations, knowledge and generally try and help each other.
  • Anna, Mike, Laura and everyone else from HMD that has actually engaged with the community on this forum has done a good job - we need more of this, not less. Hint hint to HMD leadership.
  • 6/10 for community engagement - not bad for the first year, but HMD will have to try harder to avoid a low score next year.

3. The camera app - my experience is mainly with the Nokia 8, other HMD phones may have a better camera app, but this phone has not received the "flagship" treatment it deserves:
  • It started quite well. Generally people were pretty happy with the camera performance, although for the specs it should have done much better.
  • Our requests for the "Nokia Pro" UI were listened to and acted upon, so top marks for this :)
  • But then it started to go wrong.
  • First, the system update to upgrade the camera app bricked some phones - this is a no-no, this is unacceptable, especially since you're not providing users with the ability to recover devices themselves with "Nokia Phone Recovery Tool" or (even better) to backup and recover phones with a "Nokia Suite".
  • Second, the new camera app has more bugs than the old and removes some functionality - so it's a downgrade and lower quality. Again, a no-no - how did this get through QA?
  • Thirdly, yesterday you released another update to the camera app through the Play store which reduced the Nokia 8 camera app to a basic point and shoot, no usage of the Nokia 8's special features but still containing bugs like the EIS/OIS mixup.
  • How did this happen? This terrible QA has caused me to turn off auto-updates for both the system updates AND the Play store, I can't risk you ruining my phone.
  • 2/10 for community engagement, since you did implement the Pro UI, but everything else really deserves a negative score.

4. Source code:
  • This shouldn't even need to be written, since it's a legal requirement, but the glacial pace of HMD releasing the code from copy-left sources is very disappointing
  • In addition, in many cases the sources don't appear to be complete I think HMD are strictly following the letter of the GPL and other licences, rather than the spirit, de facto industry practice and community expectation of releasing the full source, even the bits that HMD haven't modified.
  • Important things like device trees which developers need are also missing.
  • This all suggests that HMD doesn't want the developer community to engage with it's phones, which is very disappointing and very surprising.
  • 1/10 for community engagement - some sources released, but not all and not in a helpful way.

5. Customer service:
  • This is a difficult one. Personally I've had no problems with my phone so haven't had to contact customer service, so can't comment from first-hand experience.
  • Also, we know that generally people who had a good experience don't talk about it, normally only those with a bad experience talk about it.
  • However, some of the stories of customer service which I've read (mainly in India, but also some in Europe and elsewhere) suggest that HMD are not investing enough in making this a good experience for the customer.
  • I know that no company wants warranty claims and they all try hard to avoid them. However, when the warranty claims are genuine (and from the stories on the forum we know for certain that there are many faults with HMD phone hardware and software) then it's unacceptable that the warranty claims aren't respected.
  • In other cases where there is a fault which does not make the phone unusable, but means a feature is degraded (e.g. the camera app, bluetooth, sound, network connectivity, SD card) the software updates which fix these problems are very slow to appear, if at all
  • Let's consider the brand name "Nokia" and consider how the current customer experience compares to what we used to experience with the old Nokia phones
  • ....thought about it? Yes, the old Nokia was much better at this - software didn't break as often; when it did it got fixed; the customer was respected and their claims addressed fairly. I'm surprised that Nokia are happy to let HMD continue to give bad customer service and have this associated with the Nokia brand.
  • 4/10 for community engagement - but as I said, it's very difficult to judge. Certainly this has to improve otherwise peopel will start to hear that Nokia phones are poor quality and poor service, which will be the end of HMD.

6. Software updates:
  • "100% pure, secure and up to date." This is what HMD say, but is it true?
  • In my personal experience yes, although as noted before some feature updates have been disappointing.
  • However, there are some people (e.g. in Australia) who are not receiving the monthly security updates, and have not for several months. Why is this? There appears to be no obvious reason, but HMD should provide a clear explanation.
  • Updates to the core OS version, e,g, 7.1 to 8.0, 8.0 to 8.1 etc, Again, in my experience this has been good, but I know that some of the lower spec and older models have not received 8.1, with no obvious explanation.
  • Honestly though, I think we can all agree with HMD are better than almost every manufacturer except Google themselves (considering the whole product portfolio, not incidivual phones, where I know some manufacturers do better than HMD).
  • 8/10 - fix the known problems and keep up the good work! :)

I've probably missed out many areas which are important to people but these are the ones that I've noticed are the most important to the community. Please join in and give your own experiences and feelings about HMD's community engagement in their first year of operation.

Cheers :)

8 people like this idea

Community Hero

@Wilson I agree that staying quiet is a bad decision. Sometimes PR people like that, but community engagement people know it's a road to failure.

@Niraj Those are some really good suggestions. I completely agree with you that "the moderator" (when they are company staff) is an essential catalyst for engagement between the company and the community. Other forums which are similar to ours often have a team of passionate and knowledgeable volunteers which help with the other points you mentioned - there are often volunteer moderators and volunteers experts. We have the volunteer experts, but there is no particular organisation of them and they are not given access to internal HMD documents, e.g troubleshooting guides or technical specs. We don't have the volunteer moderators, but this wouldn't be necessary if HMD could do this efficiently with only employees. Unfortunately I feel that Laura has a big forum to manage and appears to be the only person doing it - a very hard job.

@Muser you make two very good points. Many in the community have been asking for Nokia-specific apps and even services (e.g. software recovery tool or suite, or even the return of Ovi!). This is a point I could have included, but it is also a point which splits the community - some people don't want Nokia-specific apps because they love the purity of pure Android. Your suggestion to use the store is one that I have made myself, but it appears that HMD (so far) are not interested in this; I hope they change their mind. during the beta testing there have also been features enabled in Android which were generally liked and were removed in the final release, to the disappointment of the community. So, overall in this area of "software features" I would give them a 6/10 - there is still work to do.

Your final point is quite rightly a positive one.Generally the hardware, in particular the build quality, for the new Nokia phones has been excellent. There have been a few niggles, some things which seem unreasonably fragile or degrade too quickly, but generally the new phones are robust (though still not as robust as older Nokias). However, there are some points on hardware which HMD have not met community requests, e.g. FM radio, headphone jack (though this divides opinion) and "hybrid" vs separate second SIM and microSD cards. If my ratings were just about quality, I would give HMD 8/10, but since I'm thinking more about engagement with the community I actually give them 5/10 - so far there's not much evidence of building on community feedback. (please tell me if you have good examples where they have).

Cheers :)

Login to post a comment