I’ve always been a big fan of Nokia and now I’m observing them more keenly than ever – for obvious reasons I suppose. My first ever mobile phone was a Nokia 2110. I remember the fervor in our office when the Nokia 6110 was confirmed as the new Microsoft standard issue phone in the UK. That phone served me extremely well until I moved to a Sony Z5 as it was one of the first phones that Microsoft made software for – the venerable Microsoft Mobile Explorer. My how things have changed but there’s no question that Nokia has made some remarkable and revolutionary phones. The 5100 series introduced the world to changeable covers on phones and my brother swore by the 7110 (as did Neo in The Matrix if memory serves me correctly) – which was also the first phone with predictive text input (T9). The 6210 and later the 6310 became the workhorse phones of many travelling executives with astonishing build quality and battery life – even recently these primitive phones by todays standards sold for a premium on eBay. The Nokia 7650 was lauded for it’s unusual design, VGA camera and MMS support – I still have one of those, along with the less successful rotary dial 3650 model.
Last week, Nokia announced the N9 – a two year project resulting in what I think is a stunning device. The N9′s lead designer, Anton Fahlgre, says there was a real focus on “continuity of form” with almost no seams as the curved glass flows in to the case. The N9 sports a lack of buttons too – with none on the front and only volume control and power on the side from what I can tell. The phone is machined from a single piece of polycarbonate resulting in a casing that has a premium feel but doesn’t compromise antenna performance in the way a metal casing would. That should deliver Nokia’s high standards for reception and voice quality. Another defining feature of the phone is the 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and autofocus. It all goes to show that those folks in Finland still know a thing or two about phones (and design) so I’m looking forward to what they bring to Windows Phone 7. There was some speculation about that last week as you may have noticed
A few other Nokia items I’ve spotted with my new found interest in all things Finnish – their Play 360 speaker with near field capability (NFC) which enables a simple tap of a phone on the unit to have it play the music from the device. And the BH11 Bluetooth stereo headset.
What I love about both pieces of hardware is their design – I’m looking forward to some of this goodness coming to Windows Phone too.
To finish my Finnish focus for the moment, I also stumbled across two infographics I thought were interesting. The first of these gives a very interesting insight in to the strength of Nokia’s operator relations and what this means for mobile billing. According to the infographic, Nokia operator billing allows subscribers of 113 operators in 37 markets to buy apps and games from developers with very little friction. What’s even more interesting is downloads of paid apps and sales were 4.5x and 6.5x higher than those where credit cards were used….and in markets where operator billing is available, nearly two thirds of the transactions are made in using that payment mechanism. What does that all mean? Well I’ve been listening to folks like Scoble talk about the developers being the key to a mobile market and I don’t disagree – this data sheds new light on it (for me at least) and if I were a developer, I’d be intrigued about the 50% greater revenue that arises for me from Nokia’s integrated operator billing. If you’re trying to sell games to kids with smartphones who don’t have a credit card, this is a neat way to put it on their parents bill…with zero friction.
A second infographic caught my eye this week was one showing Click Through Rate (CTR) for mobile advertising on Nokia devices. I’m less familiar with this advertising side of things, but again, if I were developing mobile ads, I would be intrigued enough to explore more. That’s all for now on my Finnish focus but it’ll not be the last. Stay tuned for some interesting news in the next few weeks.