About Nokia, nostalgia, and dwelling on the glories past
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…