About Nokia, nostalgia, and dwelling on the glories past

Yesterday Mobile Review’s Eldar Murtazin made an interesting post on his personal blog about how Nokia today seems to be more focused on the glories of the past, then shaping of the future. The post was in Russian, and I didn’t think Google Translate can do it justice, so I did the loose translation into English myself.
My friends close to Nokia, who have seen this translation, say that Nokia is changing already, and after the last reorg many things in Eldar’s post might not be relevant anymore. I sincerely hope so, and really wish that the company found the strength to turn things around.  At times Eldar’s post might sound too harsh, but overall, IMHO, it’s a brilliant snapshot of the way things look to us, outsiders. Here’s the translation:
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This is not related to all that stuff between Nokia and me.

I wonder at the enviable stubbornness with which former glorious victories are constantly brought to our attention. And how people get into ecstatic trance  brandishing these ancient trophies. The hero of the Trafalgar,  commendation for Iwo Jima, and this medal.. well, for something glorious too, can’t remember what for right now. Countdown of former, long forgotten battles known only to few history buffs is pouring in an endless stream. The mention of the new wars is carefully avoided. And how can it be any other way, when new hungry and aggressive upstarts are beating the shit out of you, time after time. The new punch is in, your false teeth flying out, and you are crawling back behind the chest of glorious trophies to get hem back. Again.  It’s an acquired taste. The crawling. And you made a plenty wide a path from it already. Like in a trainer fight, the old winner  of all the most famous battles known to man cries out loud where he is hitting next. Letting out a lisping cry “I am on the offensive!”, limbering giant charges. But his opponents just side step with a knowing smile. Letting the 800 pounds of the old gorilla to slam into nothingness and roll away.

It’s an impression I get after reading another Nokia press release about how they created the first internal cellphone antenna in 1998. Yes they did. In 1998. And, I must say, it was a real piece of crap. Radio chip in it went bonkers with amazing speed. Those were my impressions as a user of that phone. 3 replacements in 3 months. In friggin Italy, because nobody could fix it here, in Russia. And you know what? It didn’t matter. I was a happy user. Because that device was uber  cool, and nobody else had it (it wasn’t very available at the time, to put it mildly). I couldn’t care less about radio chip problems, because, well – I had something that was on the bleeding edge. My friends and acquaintances felt the same.

Nowadays Nokia is getting their comforts remembering the days when they were the pioneers. Remembering one’s past is all good and well. But it’s not enough to keep one successful today. iPhone 4 “antennagate” just proved that it is such a cool device, that people will buy it despite potential antenna problems. They’ll buy it no matter what. Compare that to Nokia phones. The world has changed. Nowadays Apple is making “cool great” things. The first step in getting back on top – is to recognize the problem. Recognize and internalize it, so you have the strength to double down, change and come up with something really great and cool. Something that will bring about a sea change of how people see your products and company right now. As it once was. When the name “Nokia” triggered automatic expectation of something great. But it ain’t happening. Company is swimming in nostalgia. “Do you remember the times when we made this and that…”.  Memories are all good and well, but I prefer to see top of the line handsets and innovation I care about, right now. Just look at the things others are making, and how they are barging ahead.  I think the old Nokia is just fizzling out. And there’s only one way out of this slump: you have to change the old management with new, young, aggressive and ambitious people. The company, following their leaders, just became too old. And needs a major shakedown. Otherwise the fond remembrances of the old glory days, will remain the only thing we’ll see from Nokia. And remembrances, mostly undeserved, because all those former glorious victories came mostly at the hands of men that are not in charge today.

All this dredging up of the ghosts of the past shows that  Nokia is not ready for a change yet. They are just looking back and admiring their past. And deem themselves too great to change. Pity. There was a time when this company lived on change and was changing continuously. Today it turned into a scarecrow with a lisping – “We are on offensive” – cry, crawling back under the trophy chest as soon as the air runs out…

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • andref1989

    Interesting read.

  • Arman Iqbal

    lol , you made many assumptions and let me tell you, there are some fallacies in your post.

  • Max4

    The post is hardly “interesting”. Nokia has made some screw ups along the way but Eldar is hardly an unbiased source of info / comments regarding Nokia. We all know of the problems between between Eldar and Nokia so why repost all the BS that Eldar spews out. I thought unwired was supposed to be an intelligent site. Intelligent people don't mind hearing criticism of stuff but it should at least be stuff that is unbiased and makes sense.

    Eldar, himself says that he works as a consultant for phone companies. How can you be unbiased towards any phone company when you do work for phone companies. Its an obvious conflict of interest.

  • Brad

    This guy writing the article, what an absolute moron. So what, you dictate people on what they buy. Look at the figures, they'll show which brands are still popular. Not everyone wants an Iphone or Android, people stick by what they are used to. Android/Iphone are for 2 dimensional people, the prupose of these phones are predominantly touch focused, whereas Nokia is both Touch focused and Qwerty/keyboard based, a market for everyone. Apple is just bling, Android is just over-perceived hype like the so-called rise of the Nexus One flop.

  • andref1989

    I'm more interested in the fact that Eldar is somewhat changing his tune and approach to Nokia.
    I don't think he is much in the way of unbiased but he;s well known in the mobile sphere so it's interesting to hear his thoughts.