Why is Nokia such a complete failure?

by Volker Weber

Latest press release (in German):

Espoo, 02.07.2009 - Die neueste Version von Nokia Maps ist ab sofort verfügbar. Nokia Maps 3.0 für Mobiltelefone zeichnet sich durch ...

Die neueste Version von Nokia Maps für Mobiltelefone kann unter www.nokia.com/maps heruntergeladen werden.

Download at www.nokia.com/maps? Ok, let me grab the E75. Here is what you see:


I need to install Flash? OK, let's check the OVI store. Not in "Recommended". Let's search for "Nokia Maps". Result:


"Can you spell 'fuck' as in 'Nokia Maps'?" - "There is no fuckin Nokia Maps." - "Yup, that's what I am trying to tell you."

But wait, there is more:


Mac support coming soon. What for? Ah, the download is Setup_Nokia_Maps_Updater_1.0.7.exe. An executable? And what does it do? It grabs an S60 installer from the web and tries to push it to the device.

Who invented this? Why not let the phone grab the installer without requiring Flash and a special piece of PC hardware? Nokia, you are so backwards, that it is unbelievable. Buy everyone in the company an iPhone and task them with blowing our socks off.

Or step aside lest you be run over by the competition.


Ugh. Love my E71 *device* in many ways but the software is so often unnecessarily complex and user-unfriendly. Take the contacts application. No please, take it. Drives me nuts. The only practical value I get out of it is that I can sync it to Notes over the air through Traveler. Doing any data entry is a joke. You can't even type dashes or other punctuation in phone number fields. You have to navigate a bunch of menus/submenus to be able "add detail" ie. add another phone number. Palm c. 1996/97 had this right. Just crazy.

Just don't get how a company that can create such beautiful devices can do such a crap job of creating usable software.

The sad thing now is that I've browsed OVI and seen several cool apps I want, but it's such a PITA to get all the OVI logins set up on the phone that I've shelved the effort for the time being.

I'm also rethinking the value of "multi-tasking" which the iPhone famously does not do (and Pre and S60 do do). It's just too easy to forget you've got stuff still open and running (and eating memory). A better approach would be to shut down an app when you switch to another, but automatically save the *state* of the app so switching back feels like it was never closed.

Kevin Pettitt, 2009-07-02

I believe that's in the design guide for iPhone apps, like "save your state whenever you need, since you can be killed any second". And yes, the E71 is the best designed hardware I have seen so far. Well, the screen could be a bit better, but the package is great. Having seen the N97 I believe Nokia is bust.

Volker Weber, 2009-07-02

That's too bad you don't like the N97. Why exactly? I had high hopes Nokia would finally get everything right with that device.

Kevin Pettitt, 2009-07-02

Nokia really tries to get it right - offers a solution for 80-90 percent of their users that updates the application as well the maps (that is what the PC-Installer does).

Problem is, that nobody expects it to be that way...

The better way would be to just put it in the OVI Store and let people grab it there. Do the map-downloads from inside the application. I really do not know what goes wrong at Nokia. There is always that inconsistency. OK, others have it a lot easier, having some or even only a single product on the market. But still.

To speak of the N97:
It is a great piece BUT it is simply no iPhone. And I am talking positive and negative now. It really has evolved in importand things (e.g. the camera is just perfect, for instance sharing pictures to Ovi or Flickr is a single click, right after you take the picture.

The problem is: It would have been really great a year ago. It is too late... Nokia spends over 6.4 billion USD per Year for R&D - check it - it is unbelieveable, how they can not catch up with the competition.

Still it is far from being bust - Nokia makes too many small phones not to be around anytime soon, but they really need to change something. Have a look at Motorolas history, Nokia.

Best regards,

Hubert Stettner, 2009-07-02

Kevin, look at the keyboard and spot the space key. How long do you need to learn this? Also, the touch screen is resistive not capacitive as all the other current phones. That technology was once user on the Treos. Once you get past the home screen you are back in S60 territory. It's a small evolution, not a revolution that is badly needed.

Nevertheless I am going to give it a longer try when I can get ahold of one.

Volker Weber, 2009-07-02

Totally agree with Vowe about the N97. Same crappy phone as the 5800 XpressMusic just with a keyboard. After playing for several days with the N97 and read Steve Freys review about it I truly believe Nokia is doomed.

Yves Luther, 2009-07-02

Brilliant. Just to quote the summary:

It really pains me that I can’t rave about this device. I love what Nokia has given to the market – I was devoted to the Communicator for years – but no one who has used an iPhone would do anything other than laugh, weep or bray with contempt at the N97. It just isn’t good enough and that is a terrible pity. It is nothing like as godawful as the BlackBerry Storm, but then nothing is. For the time being the iPhone 3GS and the superb BlackBerry Bold reign. I ache for Apple-busting newcomers.

Volker Weber, 2009-07-03

Nokia has only a few good models: E90.
Although it comes with a map feature too, and it shows your location on the map via UPS, it's missing the navigator feature which you need to buy for an upprice.
There was one older Nokia model which has the navigator included for free, since then Nokia has screwed up the map feature in their phones.
iPhone is nice, but the keyboard sucks. I use E90 because it is the only phone on the market with a decent keyboard. And the cinemascope widescreen display is also nice.

Mika Heinonen, 2009-07-03

I really like my E71, but... That's how many customers describe the nice piece of engineering. The hardware that is. I have to agree with all criticism above regarding the UI, the OS and the apps.

As map services go, I have given up on Nokias' and am happily using Google Maps. Nokia for example offers to create locations for the map app, but when trying the option "get address from contacts", it just doesn't want to save the selection... With Google Maps is easy to enter a destination, search it, select it, choose the way to get there, on foot or by car and off you go. Search for restaurant, billiard or whatever and Google Maps give you the nearest locations. Not always reliably, sometimes the facility doesn't exist anymore, but it is really easy to use and useful.

The mail app. I tried several times re-installing, but again have given up for now. So what am I using now on the E71, the Gmail mobile app. Nuff said.

I like the E71 keyboard, but I might get used to the touchscreen one from iPhone as well. I don't like Apple's policy for controlling the app store, but hey, Nokia's version of the same thing is complicated, slow and not really open either. The 3rd party apps I use are Qik, Frings, Google mail, Google maps... all installed directly from the respective websites. I really don't understand Nokia's dependance on Windows for so many things, like updates, installations... A computing and networking device shouldn't need another computer to do anything essential.

The only problem is to get the latest iPhone at a fair price without much hassle and without a contract. But as long as Nokia & co are not really competing with the iPhone, Apple can afford to be arrogant.

Moritz Schroeder, 2009-07-03

I have had the N97 for about a week now.... and it's a great piece of equipment... but not perfect (silly to expect I know)

I went in to try the Iphone.. slick - wonderful.. but I am a gadget geed, needed a good camera, and use the video, need flash as I hammer the internet.... etc

Firstly, I have had a problem, which I know I am not alone in, 'memory full' problems... over and over again, there is no easy fix for this, and drives you around the bend, when you can't direct download from the internet!! the Nokia Un-helpful line was just that.... despite them telling me that a lot of people were having the same problem, next time I will call my local fish and chip shop - quicker to get through, and just as helpful.

Internet radio is missing.... why would you release a premium device without premium products.. I used to be able to listen to internet radio in the car... not now!

Browser's such as skyfire etc do not work with the touchscreen... this I know is a compatibility problem.

You would also expect, with such a premium product, it would have followed the same way as the N96, and a deal to be able to download from the BBC's Iplayer..

Did Nokia not know that some people have their arials at the back of their cars? which is useless for me, given the interference. So the FM transmitter is useless in the car... which is a real shame

It's still a great product, glad I got it over the Iphone... but there have been times where I haven't.... let's hope firmware sorts it out


simon carter, 2009-07-03

Sounds pretty grim to me. I guess they’ve gone too far down the line now, with Symbian and the OVI thing, but in an ideal world Nokia would bite the bullet and build some decent handsets (we know they can do this) which use Android.

Ben Poole, 2009-07-03

Sounds indeed all very grim here. As Volker knows, I tend to be on the Nokia side of things. Still, I try to be critical on Nokia. And there is a lot :(

Still, especially the N97 is not all as bad as some people may think:
- the spacebar: it is surprisingly in the right place, really. Try it, you will be surprised how good it is. No need to get used to.
- the real problem with the keyboard is punctuation (.,), they are hard to reach, plus haptic feedback on some keys.
- the whole thing REALLY needed to be 100% right. And it is not. They made some crucial mistakes (e.g. a great but a little old platform, a resistive touchscreen) which are hard to understand.

Ben, Nokia can almost no way build Android Handsets, currently. They spent hundreds of millions on buying and giving away the Symbian Foundation. They HAVE to see something from it. 'al' they need to do is gain more (and I mean MORE) momentum. But maybe you are right and they are too far down the line...

To me, Android is the most interesting platform for a geek. What I really do not like about the devices is, that they all feature a not very good HVGA display. This is just not enough pixels for one geek ;)

Maybe Nokia really need a radical cut at board level and more control, more direction. There are good things (as the OVI suite, only one software for all or OVI at all, one portal and solution selling, a more vertical model from Hardware through Software to Services), but as always the last three(!) years, they are too slow.

Ciao :)

Hubert Stettner, 2009-07-03

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