When I started working for Nokia in late 2005, I was not a cell phone user. In fact up until that time I had made only one call using a friend’s mobile device… and that was the extent of my experience. I joined the Finnish outfit’s US factory quality operations based on the intriguing job description and the company’s reputation. Quite frankly, I didn’t get the mobile phone hype and hoopla back then.
Until I was introduced to smartphones.
Of course, others have claimed since their introduction that smartphones are over-hyped, but I never witnessed that while working for Nokia. I felt, as many others did, that Nokia’s marketing was actually rather bland and even often obtuse. That was tolerable while they were a market segment leader. Now with the once-proud business in dire straits, aggressive marketing is a natural necessity.
What isn’t necessary is deception… intentional or otherwise.
Following a buggy* and rather lackluster launch event where the cool new Lumia 920 and 820 were passively introduced, sharp observers deduced that demos showing off the Lumia 920′s diminished version of PureView were actually created using more professional equipment. To its credit Nokia quickly apologized, but then had to follow with a second apology when another example was found.
This comes at a time when the company cannot afford to stumble in any manner, but most certainly not in ways that impugn its own reputation.
Some outside of Nokia have defended the demonstrations, saying that they were positioned as examples of the technology involved (like Optical Image Stabilization) and not specifically claimed to have been created with a 920.
Sorry, still fails the sniff test. Especially since Nokia rightly acknowledged that they should have included a (prominent) disclaimer.
However, I want to assure readers that the Nokia I’ve known isn’t defined by this faux pas. And even though the company has gone through many changes since I last worked for it in 2008, I’m told that the core culture is still there, at least for the rank and file. What’s different is a desperation at the top, I hear, that is apparently driving some really regrettable decisions.
And those bad decisions aren’t limited to faked feature demonstrations. In my opinion Nokia has also damaged the PureView brand by diffusing its meaning. Sorry, Damian Dinning, but while your comment regarding PureView not being “about the number of pixels but what you do with them” may be technically true, it still comes across as disingenuous. It’s an insult to those many loyal customers who bought your insanely popular 808 model even though it runs a deprecated operating system. Spread that definition far and thin enough and it loses all meaning… and there goes one of your strengths.
These are fundamentals, folks.
Nokia, you’re better than this. I believe you can recover, but it’s going to take more than your usual effort. Stop making defensive excuses, and address questions over branding and related subjects with pure intellectual honesty. Refrain from deceptive demo tactics that don’t even need to be used; the 920′s capabilities are good enough to quiet the competition.
Maybe you also need to sub-brand PureView to distinguish between feature sets. PureView Lite? PureView XL? Regardless, you are now hurting your brand with Bizarro World marketing ploys that confuse the purchasing public. The defense of it points to a crippling disconnect between engineering and sales that has wrecked many a company. Solve that ASAP.
And as for launches: take a cue from Amazon’s Kindle event just a day after your own. A classy affair that answered all the right questions and made the mission very clear. There’s no reason you can’t do the same. Start by maintaining a tighter grip on those leaks so that you actually have some surprises. And keep Microsoft off the main stage; this should be about YOU.
Now let’s get that stain removed.
*refers to the Silverlight-based event stream malfunctioning