Instead of providing some great back story explaining how dominant Nokia used to be before Apple launched its iPhone, and other handset manufacturers started using the Android operating system on their devices, I am going to jump straight into it. Nokia has not been able to produce a phone that is greater than the Nokia N95 8GB they launched in 2007.
I remember when I bought my Nokia N95 8GB. I can compare the feeling to when I got my first iPhone. In fact, it took me a while to switch from my N95 to my iPhone. I really wasn’t sure about the whole touch screen interface and everything on my N95 just worked. It had a better camera, it worked as my 3G modem, it had apps I used often, and it also just felt right. I can’t explain it, but I was emotionally attached to this device because it was just brilliant.
I’ve used many Nokia devices since the N95, either as a testing device or by playing around with a friend or colleague’s phone. I have yet to experience a Nokia device as magical as the N95. I know most people have heard that the Nokia Lumia is a wonderful device but quite frankly it’s not!
You see, the N95 came from years of both failure and progress with the long line of mobile phones Nokia had created over the years. It’s as if they took the best features from their range of phones and put them into one device. It had no real competitors, it was in a class of its own. Nokia led the pack and everyone else was playing catch up (until the iPhone 3G).
I just don’t get that feeling with the Lumia or any other Nokia device. I love the fact that the N95 was so bold, so different and so great. When it comes to Nokia’s current offerings, I can tell they are constantly playing catch-up. All they’ve been able to achieve with the Lumia is better sameness.
Why was the N95 Nokia’s last great phone? Well, it might not be and I hope I am wrong. However Nokia are playing catch up by creating devices they think people want due to Apple’s success with the iPhone and other handset manufacturers’ success with Android. I also think that the decision to run Windows Mobile on their devices was a bad one. I really think Nokia could do better without Microsoft.
And lastly, because I don’t think they have anyone internally who is willing to create the next curve, to trail blaze, to be bold and create the next truly great device. They are playing it safe. Like I said, I hope I am wrong.
Side Note: Firstly, this post was inspired by Stephen’s suggestion to get a Nokia Lumia as replacement to my now broken iPhone (dropped it). Secondly, I am aware of the African smartphone, feature phone and dumb phone dilemma where the the smartphone doesn’t really feature – but that’s not important here.