Some thoughts on Nokia World

Nokia World 2010

Here we are nearly a full week on from all the fun of the fair that was Nokia World 2010 and there is still so much kicking around in my head.

Many internet peeps have already written up their thoughts so far (some were there, some weren’t), all giving their opinions on what was and was not a success for the Finnish giants this time ’round. On top of this, a couple of them have even called me out asking for what I thought about this year’s Nokia World. Well, I’ll tell you…

Before I go on, this post is here – on my personal blog – for a reason. The following thoughts and opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my employer, clients or blogging pals – past, present or future.

First and foremost I think the event as a whole was broadly positive and I’ll get to the main thinking behind this shortly but first, some background.

Believe it or not, this was in fact my first Nokia World and I really, thoroughly enjoyed it. On the first day I sat through the first set of keynotes and was thoroughly impressed by both Niklas Savander AND the departing Anssi Vanjoki. The former proving to be both witty and charming while the latter gave a barnstorming presentation worthy of any outgoing EVP.

After that, I was working.

My agency, 1000heads, runs Nokia’s global community programme WOMWorld/Nokia and as such (amongst other things at least) facilitates a large part of Nokia’s blogger engagements all around the world. The WW/N team were on the ground making sure our guys were happy while I kept an eye on the overall feeling within (and without) the group. All in all, the outlook was positive.

Later on in the day, when Nokia decided to give away nearly 1000 brand new Nokia N8s to the assembled developer community, all of us shared an equal level of surprise but also happiness. Of course we were gutted we didn’t ALL get one (not all of us made the first developer keynote where the gifting took place), but knowing that the ones that did get given away went to developers? None of us complained.

“Nokia did a Google – at last” they said. They were right too.

But 1000 free phones does not a successful conference make. Onwards then, to the true source of my positivity –

The following day, when I sat down to record some thoughts with Dan McGrath from Nokia Conversations, I was honest – “Let’s face it,” I said “it could’ve been a LOT worse.” and I meant it. The CEO gone, the EVP of Mobile Solutions on his way out, no MeeGo announcements… Nokia World really could have been a mess.

But it wasn’t.

Being there, on the floor, meeting the workforce, feeling the vibe in the air… There were no crappy devices announced, no shoddy services, no great white hopes… They didn’t deliver their [insert name of device and add the word ‘killer’ to the end] sure, but they never said they would. What they did was make a very clear and very firm step forward. It may’ve been a small (near-baby) step forward, but nevertheless, a step in the RIGHT direction.

I didn’t see Stephen Elop make his special guest star appearance at the end of day two nor did I see any of the hoo-hah about the whole HTC v Nokia debacle. Nokia held an all agency briefing day on the afternoon of day two which I left feeling not only super fired up about the future of my favourite Finnish phone manufacturer but also just so INSPIRED. OPK and Anssi V aren’t the only changes Nokia have made internally, there’s been a lot of restructuring below too and amongst the newcomers there is a real sense of change AND – more importantly – determination.

I have a different view to most, this I know. I have the privilege of working close with those that matter and also get to see that little bit further down the road (albeit under strict NDA – so don’t even think about asking), so trust me when I say; there really are great things ahead.

James Whatley – Sept 20th, 2010

Appendix –

  1. Twitter won’t hold them for long but, while you have the chance, go read Jonathan MacDonald’s tweets from September 15th. He gave a fantastic talk at one point during day two’s all agency session and managed to live-tweet the rest of the day’s presentations.
  2. This is the podcast I gave with the Nokia Conversations guys. It’s only seven minutes long and well worth a listen for Rafe Blandford’s and Matt Miller’s contributions alone.

Finally, if you’ve made it this far, please do leave a comment. Even if to say hi.
It’s not often I unload like this and any and all thoughts are appreciated.


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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

39 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Nokia World”

  1. Well said James, glad to see the atmosphere at Nokia is heading towards a positive path.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks Jorge. It’s not just the positivity, it’s the wind of change 🙂

  2. Nice thoughts. i shouldn’t read this while writing on my own thoughts and impressions… Great post. Thanx 🙂

    thanx to all WW/N folks who were looking after the attendies from all over the world.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Alright chap, I’ll pass on your thanks to the WW/N team – they’re a good bunch and I’m proud to work with them. Looking forward to your write up!

  3. Interesting few thoughts James, all the video’s and articles I’ve seen seem quite positive and the new handsets look pretty good, only negatives deem to be in the US and surprised Mickyfin wasn’t more positive, but hey, everyone’s entitled to there opinions, follow youm on twittter with interest, keep up the good work 🙂

    whatleydude Reply:

    Thank you for the kind words Stephen. I always, always enjoy hearing from new commenters and the encouragement really does mean a lot.

    Glad you enjoy what I do. I do too 🙂


  4. Hi! 🙂

    Reading this in the car on the way back from the airport, nice to catch up, glad it all went well. 🙂


    whatleydude Reply:

    HURRAH! You’re BACK! 😀

  5. Fair enough, I think that the former CEO could have done with more time – I think everyone is too obsessed with the North American market.

    And Anssi’s departure is a loss but his show must go on attitude would do him well in show business.

    I found the E7 puzzling and a bit disappointing as a successor to the E90. Spec wise it seems more like a consumer device like the blacker than black screen as the expense of pixel width and that the N900 seems a more worthy successor. May be there is something I don’t get.

    However we have developments in the Meego platform that still await.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Obsessed with North America? Tell me about it… Anssi is indeed a sad loss, but given he was passed over twice for the number one gig, I guess he must’ve felt like he had no other option but to fall on his sword. I applaud him and, like you said, great speech too.

    Re the E7 I’d hold off until you get to play with one yourself. While I’m not overly enamoured by the price point (about €100 more than the N8) it’s still a very, very nice device and that keyboard is something else. If it wasn’t for the optics, I’d be first in line.

    My Meego thoughts will have to wait for another day 😉

    Chris Reply:

    To be fair, Nokia execs themselves were pretty NA obsessed at the show. I was in a briefing where they outright admitted that NA was where the hub of innovation had shifted to. Whether that’s true or not, it seems to be the new “guiding light” internally.

  6. James,

    Thank you for your thoughts. While I was not there from reading various bits and some of the tech biz reports, my thoughts go along the lines of one word, “Hope”.

    smiles, jen ;o)

    whatleydude Reply:

    Hope is one thing, delivery is another. This time, I think they actually have it in them. Bring it on! 🙂

  7. Although I have recently converted to iPhone about twelve months ago, for twelve years I’ve had nowt but Nokias – and right now I have two working “spare” phones that are Nokias(!) I’m really glad they are still a force, if only up until now in unit sales – it would appear that they are going to be blowing trumpets a little more from now on, and that can only be good. But still with Feet-On-Ground doing what they do best – selling zillions of handsets.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Hey Pedro,

    Fingers crossed they can just deliver 🙂

  8. Nice article James. One point I’m glad you made was that Nokia didn’t deliver a so-called xXxxxx-killer; companies that insist to measure themselves in terms of their competition have lost the ability to innovate. By avoiding the comparisons and marketing devices on their own merits, Nokia is demonstrating a preparedness to compete on innovation and market awareness.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks Craik, appreciate you stopping by. The term ‘handset’-killer fullstop is a misnomer and 99.9% of the time its just lazy journalism. But yes, I see your point;

    When you’re similar, your competitors set your roadmap. When you’re different, you do.

  9. Mate, may I ask you something? Does Nokia pay you for your posts? It certainly sounds like they do.

    Others present at this event had quite a different perception from yours. As does the market in general regarding Nokia.

    With posts like these I certainly envision a long and healthy career for you in marketing.


    whatleydude Reply:

    Hi Adam,

    Nokia do not pay for my posts. Any posts I write for or about Nokia as part of my day job can be found over on WOMWorld/Nokia, take this one for instance –

    The reason I decided to write up my thoughts and impressions was that many others had seemed to have been to a different Nokia World than me and, if you look at the comments (which, by the way, are conversational without being snarky) then you’ll see I’m not the only one that feels this way.

    Were you at Nokia World?
    Do you have something constructive to add?

    Tom Reply:

    Nice writeup. I appreciate you taking the time to post this. I’m not trying to be “snarky” like Adam, but I wonder if you are involved in case of conflict of interest in the sense that your views on the event might be influenced by your working relationship with Nokia. I understand that that is part of the reason why you posted this on your personal blog, but because your agency runs Nokia’s global community programme, WOMWorld/Nokia, I can imagine that Nokia would not be too pleased had you written a negative blog post.

    whatleydude Reply:

    That’s a fair comment Tom and thank you for taking the time to comment.

    Let me see if I can add some context:

    First up, I have written negatively about Nokia in the past. Both before and after they were my client (I can link if need be). Although I’ll be honest, of late – if Nokia messed up, I have tended not to comment. Instead, preferring to raise my concerns with those involved to help remedy any issues. The recent Pamela Anderson promo being a good example –

    Second, the Nokians are good guys. They’re also not idiots. They know I’m entitled to my own opinions and they also know that they’re not perfect. While my anti-Nokia posts are few on the ground (but they do exist), when it comes to taking them to task on something, I normally do it in person.

    I hope that clarifies things.


    Tom Reply:

    Thanks, James, for your honesty. Keep up the hard work with Nokia! I really do want to come back to them someday soon.

    Adam Reply:

    James, my intent was not to be snarky. You’re tied into Nokia hence your apparent lack of objectivity.

    I’m actually glad you posted this because it clearly illustrates how dangerous pushing corporate agendas is in the realm of so-called “unbiased” social media. Unbiased eh?

    We can all have our own biases and preferences of course. But when the drum beating becomes too loud one starts to question the intent.

    The deceit of social media has been exposed. Please slap a “Nokia” sticker on your site and let’s call spade a spade, shall we?


    whatleydude Reply:

    Corporate agendas? Hilarious. You’re entitled to your opinion Adam, of course you are – this is the internet after all. However, I’m intrigued, were you *at* Nokia World? I’d be interested to read your first-hand take…

    In regards to your closing paragraph; there’s already a Nokia sticker on my blog. Up and over on the right, in the tag cloud. I’ve been blogging about my different passions for the best part of five years and anyone can see what they are just by looking. That much should be obvious.

    To be honest, your comments aren’t really based on any facts and nor are you providing any evidence to suggest what you’re saying is true. So, while I appreciate healthy debate and conversation ‘Artek‘, it must also be said that I don’t appreciate trolls.

    Have a great day.


  10. Good thoughts indeed. I missed being there this year, but quite enjoyed the opportunity to just sit back and take it all in. I thought Anssi absolutely nailed his speech, firing on all cylinders. I got the feeling that he might have had a hand in the E7, beaming as he was like a proud father or something.

    As I mentioned in my own post, I felt like the hardware is a bit forgettable, but the real story is what this new Software Guy is going to do with things. Elop ie either a great new beginning for Nokia or the beginning of the end – either way, its a fresh face for a fresh new start, and I wish him well.

    whatleydude Reply:

    Thanks Ricky. Glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about Anssi’s speech, I couldn’t have put it better in fact.

    I understand your feelings re hardware and actually, I’d say nearly all of the devices on show you either a) had to be there and play with them yourself or b) will be second in line to whatever awesomeness they bring out next time ’round.

    Fair enough, you can’t measure success by saying ‘Well, it wasn’t the N97 was it?’ but I’m kind of almost tempted to use that in the defence 😉

  11. Good post James, and interested to hear this was only your first Nokia World. People asked me to compare this years Nokia World to last years, and I still have to say, Nokia World 2009 in Germany was the better of the two years.

    Last year there were priceless one on one Q&A meetings set up, which were indeed priceless to be able to talk, suggest, and share ideas with Nokia’s top brass, but this year, it was simply not the same approach, and someone of a let down in the Social Media eye as there are many tough questions that still need answering, suggestions that need acknowledging, and ideas that need sharing with these top brass at Nokia.

    Having said that, with Nokia’s internal changes of their top brass, and more internal changes than a babies nappy, I guess it was difficult to address the social media needs this year round.

    I still strongly suggest to Nokia that they do indeed need to take Nokia World 2011 to North America.

    whatleydude Reply:

    My first Nokia World, yes indeed. Interesting, how so?

    Having worked closely with team(s) that organise those particular Q&As you mention, it was indeed all the changes that took place prior to the event that meant the usual one-on-ones weren’t able to take place (I could’ve swore I said as much on day one, but perhaps it was to someone else).

    On that note, please don’t assume this was just the case for yourself and the 30+ other international bloggers that attended the event. The industry, national and international press had the same issues too.

    It has probably been pointed out before but I think it’s worth saying that of all the companies I’ve ever worked with, Nokia *get* ‘Social’ more than anyone else. When I first saw what they were up to back in 2006, it was easy to see that they were (and still are in some areas) a good few years ahead of anyone else. It’s a shame to see this taken for granted as much these days as it’s assumed it has been around forever.

    Nokia couldn’t address most people’s needs this time ’round, not just social media. It’s a year of *change*. A good one at that. I read your post and – as I said in your comments – disagree with a large part of it. But like I said, I’m closer to it so I either have an over-balanced view or much wider one. We’ll check again this time next year 😉

  12. enjoyed the post and the comments/responses, not feeling too verbose right now, so just “hi” and 🙂

  13. Got invited to check in at a vodafone store to win an N8. Nokia also have the app for X Factor. So they’re doing the right things, but it reminds me of SEGA with the Dreamcast. They sponsored Arsenal, and had an amazing Robbie Williams advert circa 2001. The problem wasn’t the PR or Marketing, it was the consumer perception of the device. I have to say the biggest issue Nokia have is Symbian, this ^3 looks nice and all, but it’s forever playing catchup. I’ll be interested to see how quickly this NDA that smells like Windows Mobile & on Nokia hardware comes to fruition. Nokia are locked into software though, and that is doomed. They need to get a software solution or ideally 2.

    LG, Samsung & HTC have managed to slide away from Symbian without too much hooha. Nokia might be long on Symbian, but they’re short on choice. Nobody wants a proprietary app store that isn’t is beautiful as Apple’s experience

    the_accidental Reply:

    Wasn’t going to comment – I agree with the article – but this caught my eye:

    “Nobody wants a proprietary app store that isn’t is beautiful as Apple’s experience”

    The new on-device Ovi store with symbian^3 is a *lot* better than what’s gone before. It’s better to use than the android market, and I prefer it to Apple’s app store. Certainly it’s comparable if not better. Now all they need is the content to fill it up with, but the push to attract developers seems to be happening. I could waffle on about this a bit more…but here’s not the place for that.

    I think the problem faced by device manufacturers will be that software sells devices, but isn’t (to date) profitable for most (bar a few app successes). The money’s made in the hardware (which of course subsidises OEM app effort, but not 3rd party). I don’t know what the solution to that is yet – nobody seems to. It does all feel a bit late-nineties internet though….something’s got to give.

    Mark webster Reply:

    “better than Android market and preferable the app store” in what ways?

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts James. I know that the 1000heads team *never* do anything in a halfhearted fashion and your work on and around Nokia World 2010 was no exception.

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