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Farewell Nokia, you deserved better than this

Andy Vandervell

by

Nokia

OPINION Stephen Elop has confirmed what everyone feared, the Nokia name will cease to appear on phones in the near future. Andy Vandervell argues it's an insulting end for a great name.

Was this the intention all along? Yes, it probably was. When Stephen Elop made the jump from Microsoft to become Nokia CEO in 2010, pundits and analysts quickly caught onto the idea this was the opening gambit in a future acquisition.

Elop's infamous 'burning platform' memo, in which he outlined his vision to abandon Nokia's Symbian roots (and its MeeGo replacement) in favour of Windows Phone, only fueled the speculation. When the subsequent acquisition was announced in September last year, no one could even muster feigned surprise.

It was all so predictable.

But the fashionable narrative of Elop as the sole villain of the piece is slightly misleading, though only very slightly. Did Elop make mistakes? Definitely. His infamous memo did a great deal of damage to Nokia's smartphones sales, and there's at least some reasonable doubt about whether he was acting in Nokia's or Microsoft's best interests. But this ignores the fact that Nokia had become a deeply dysfunctional company long before Elop came blundering in.

While we love to remember Nokia classics, like the N95 and 6310, Nokia's 'post iPhone' products were a deeply flawed bunch. While Apple was conquering all with the iPhone 3G in July 2008, Nokia's response was the N96, a minor upgrade on the N95 that failed to capture imaginations.

Nokia N96

The Nokia N96

As our review at the time stated:

"While everyone else is trying to catch and beat the iPhone – and a few are coming very, very close to succeeding – Nokia has merely bashed out a slightly better N95. If you loved the N95 that's not a disaster: it's a pretty sure thing that you'll like the N96 even more. If not, however, there are other, more exciting phones out there for this kind of money."

The N97, which arrived a year after the iPhone, was a clunky QWERTY slider from a bygone age, while Nokia's most direct iPhone alternative, the X6, merely laid bare the inadequacies of the software powering it. Nokia was hopelessly under prepared and slow to respond.

More recently, however, we've seen a reminder of all the reasons why we came love Nokia in the first place. Until HTC's recent efforts with the One M8, Nokia could reasonably claim to be the only phone brand that designed phones as desirable as the iPhone, while its innovations in camera hardware and software are beyond doubt.

Of course, it's these qualities (and its manufacturing/distribution infrastructure) that attracted Microsoft to Nokia in the first place. But the fact the Nokia name won't adorn its efforts anymore just feels wrong. One or two duds aside, it produced some of the most iconic and memorable phones ever and it deserves better than this apologetic footnote of an ending.

Next, read our Windows Phone 8.1 review

dpanch_89

April 29, 2014, 11:36 am

Surface phone?

Prem Desai

April 29, 2014, 11:47 am

Was this a conspiracy? I guess we will never really know.

There is a plus to this - the Nokia brand does not have the kudos it used to.

I have a lot of respect for Nokia, having had many of their handsets in the past, but maybe it's time to move on .....

GaryMG

April 29, 2014, 1:23 pm

Agree. They lost thier way and only found it again thanks to microsoft. Nokia needed microsoft more than microsoft needed nokia. Anyway, when can I get my Nokia (microsoft) Lumia 930?

Tim Sutton

April 29, 2014, 2:38 pm

I love my Lumia 1520 with the burning fire of a thousand suns, and yet.

The reason I bought it was more for Windows Phone rather than for the hardware itself. If it had been an Android handset I would have thought "Hmm, nice." and moved on to the Windows Phone section of the website without a backwards glance.

What's really exciting to me is that now, FINALLY, in Microsoft there is a software manufacture with hardware manufacturing capabilities that can outface Apple when it comes to premium OS design with a laser focused set of hardware to back it up.

Nokia were never going to be that company. They could only ever have done half the job.

andyvan

April 29, 2014, 2:42 pm

True, but I would have liked to have seen the Nokia brand live on at least. It's still a very strong brand in my book, though perhaps less so in the US.

Tim Sutton

April 29, 2014, 2:56 pm

I agree, if the terms of the buyout mean Nokia can keep making phones it would be SUCH a waste to just let the brand die.

If I was Nokia, for now I'd keep making dumbphones in the 3310 shell, hipsters love them and I'd probably buy one every time I was going to a festival.

Would you ever buy a Nokia smartphone again though? They can't make one running Android due to the buyout terms, (rumoured but logical) so it would have to run something else..

andyvan

April 29, 2014, 3:18 pm

Well I was kind of hoping Microsoft would continue using it, but no such luck. Assuming MS sells off the 'dumb phone' part of the business, I suppose there's a chance the name might live on. Only a slight one, though.

Sean Cameron

April 29, 2014, 4:36 pm

Despite the name "Nokia" dying in the consumer handheld market, the company will live on as a service and enterprise focused operation in strong financial health.

What is interesting about this arrangement is that, although Microsoft have bought the device and engineering section of Nokia, they have the right to "own" the name Nokia for use on phones for five years, after which the rights revert.

Perhaps Nokia are playing a long term game here, the brand has taken many faces throughout its history, there's no reason to say that they might not make a return to phones in the future.

andyvan

April 29, 2014, 4:45 pm

Maybe, though I imagine it would be as an Android maker if it did. I think the smartphone world will be very different by then, though, and given how poorly its phone division has performed it would be a tough sell.

iFrank

April 29, 2014, 6:57 pm

"You deserved better than this". Well said.

Symbian C60 was capable of forwarding texts and phone numbers, something that eluded Apple, Microsoft (for a long while) and still Samsung. Ever wonder why there are no funnies being sent around these days? it's not just the economy and Twitter.

Microsoft barged in to smartphones convinced people had time read a manual on 'how to use a phone the Microsoft way', thank God Apple showed up, though it became the beginning of the end for Nokia.

So to Nokia and the people who produced the greatest phone of it's time.
Kitos nakemin!

PGrGr

April 30, 2014, 9:41 am

Nice article, but I can't let this go without comment:

"Until HTC's recent efforts with the One M8, Nokia could reasonably claim to be the only phone brand that designed phones as desirable as the iPhone,"

Really? You don't think the Samsung Galaxy S3 was more desirable than the iphone? The sales figures would disagree.

Sales aside, I think the point is that the iphone may have been the most desirable by the masses, but ask about design, and many people would cite other examples as being better.

HTC Desire, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Lumia phones etc...

andyvan

April 30, 2014, 11:22 am

'Desirable' as opposed 'best selling' purely from a design perspective.

peter allen

April 30, 2014, 11:34 pm

Nokia phones, Symbian/Meego and S30/40 will still be used
long after i phone/Android and windows phone are in landfill and forgotten,
i collect and use Nokia and when in conversation about my hobby," i have a Nokia in a drawer you can have it would you like it" so it's another for the collection,
Nokia will be remembered for it's classic phones 1100/ N95/N8 and 808 pure view
the last Symbian with it's amazing camera a true legacy of Nokia innovation.

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