Why did I buy Nokia N90? 11:51 on Wednesday

That’s a question I get asked. And no wonder why, after criticizing N90 so much. There are a couple of reasons:

  • I develop Flash, and needed a Series 60 phone to get started with Flash Lite. Why settle for anything but the best?
  • Obviously I’m interested enough in Nokia to pay to follow what they can come up with.
  • I guess there is a gadget freak inside me.

So in response to the question “why did I buy a first generation phone that’s bound to be beta quality” I would reply with another question: why does Nokia sell a phone that is beta quality?

One reason could be the prohibitive pricing of first generation products, which guarantees only early adopters will buy them and generally they will be too busy installing all those cool third party apps to complain. On the other hand, it’s not only the expensive Nokia models that show beta qualities.

It feels like most resources at Nokia go into building more and more features, which is bound to compromise the quality of the product. While they’re building more features, they’re increasingly creating products that provide solutions to unexisting problems, instead of delivering solid products that provide solutions to existing problems. It’s the difference of focusing on a problem, or focusing on a feature.

Why not take a hint from companies like Ableton or 37 Signals? Ableton lives up to the words of Robert Henke, one of their founders: It’s better to have a feature not implemented than to have a feature implemented in an unsatisfying way1, while 37 Signals are the ambassadors of the just enough is more approach. Would their approach scale to the size of Nokia? I can’t see why not.

  1. Book cover for Art of Digital Music
    Robert Henke, Art of Digital Music (San Francisco: Backbeat Books), page 5. Buy this book from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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