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Nokia praises iPhone, warns of 'Cupertino distortion field'

updated 08:35 am EST, Wed December 8, 2010

Nokia at LeWeb both praises, trashes Apple iPhone

Nokia Design Strategy Director Marko Ahtisaari had mixed views of Apple's work at his speech at the LeWeb conference in Paris on Wednesday. While discussing the company's plans for MeeGo phones in 2011, he produced rare compliments and said the iPhone interface was "beautifully elegant" and easy to learn. At the same, however, he saw Apple as unfairly creating a perception that Nokia was losing out and alluded to the stereotype of Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field," stressing that Nokia's reach was much wider.

"There is this Cupertino distortion field," he said. "We compete with all phones all over the world."

Ahtisaari's statements contradict current performance. With occasional exceptions, Nokia has been losing both overall and smartphone market share since the iPhone shipped in 2007 and was exacerbated when Android began gaining traction in 2009. Apple only had a modest effect at first, but even as recently as the summer of 2009 it was assuming the iPhone would fail rather than attempting to change its strategy. The N97 Nokia released at the same time was widely considered a flop given its ambitions and led to a major rethinking that resulted in the much faster, multi-touch N8 using Symbian^3 as well as the move to MeeGo.

The executive acknowledged that Nokia needed to "somehow regain the imagination" but dismissed rumors that it might jump to Android, saying Nokia couldn't "add value" and stand out with Google's OS.

Instead, Nokia would take a small cue from Microsoft and try to shift away from constantly staring at phones. Smartphones today are "immersive, they require our full attention," he said. Rather than strictly follow Microsoft's approach, though, the goal with MeeGo was to focus on "one-handed use" where a device didn't need full attention.

He pointed to techniques Nokia was implementing today as signs of its future direction, noting that adaptive behavior tied to sensors could be the future. Ovi Maps did this today by tracking collective map data to determine where heavy traffic might be and to determine when mapping data was outdated as drivers took detours. GPS could be used in the future to determine when a party was going on, Ahtisaari said, by noting if a large number of users are in a small area.

Notifications and updates might also be improved in the future, he added, without giving details.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Is "losing out" the same as losing market share?

    Maybe that's what Steve meant when he said "losing out". I don't know what what else could be implied. They say that the iPhone is losing out to Android because of Android's rapidly growing smartphone market share so I guess the term "losing out" means losing smartphone market share. It appears that's the only way the iPhone could be considered "losing out". The iPhone still has very high sales and has the highest profit share in the smartphone sector, so losing out must mean losing market share and Nokia's smartphones are losing market share. How is that some reality distortion field statement? That's just plain reality.

    Whatever. Sales are sales. If Nokia is happy with its smartphone sales, good for them. Let them say they're winning out.

  1. thebiggfrogg

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Happy, happy, joy, joy...

    Nokia's "MeToo" phone is finally released to the public. What is that, about 4 years after the iPhone. Maybe Nokia could use a bit of that "reality distortion field." Me thinks the reality is that Apple innovated an entire category of phones, while Nokia, well (their tech is impressive--if you go back in time, using another distortion field--to about 1995). The reality distortion field, aka millions of iPhones and iPod Touches sold, hasn't hurt Apple.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Doesn't "Nokia" Already Distort Reality?

    A few years ago friend of mine tried to dissuade me from buying the first iPhone. He said "Dude, don't buy that Apple stuff. Here ... get a good Japanese phone ... like this Nokia."

    So I bought two iPhones.

  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "losing out"

    I think Steve meant they're losing out on the opportunity to ride the smart phone wave.

    "Nokia would take a small cue from Microsoft and try to shift away from constantly staring at phones. Smartphones today are "immersive, they require our full attention,"

    Uh, I stare at my iPhone because I'm using it. If both of these companies think that people only use smart phones for glancing at incoming messages and notifications, they need to get out of the smart phone business. Maybe they're trying to shift away people's attention from the fact that their phones are mostly just communication devices and all the others are actually mobile computers that people enjoy using for other purposes.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's a Whole New Category!

    Microsoft and Nokia have joined forces, shared their expertise in today's cellphone market and are proud to announce the next wave of consumer products. Introducing The Dumb Phone!

    It's the phone for people who need saving from their phones. It's the phone you use while barely using it. It's the phone for people who don't want to look at their phones. It's also the phone for people who don't like smelling or tasting their phones.

    But you say you still want apps? Check out the awesome built-in app that comes with every Dumb Phone: The Push Button Music Machine! Because of the high-quality tactile dual sinusoidal tone keyboard included in every Dumb Phone, all users can take advantage of the Push Button Music app! Play awesome contemporary hits like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star! Get in the holiday spirit with Silent Night, O Christmas Tree and Jingle Bells! Get your groove on banging out Old MacDonald Had a Farm and The Farmer in the Dell! And in a few days, work your way up to Happy Birthday so you'll always be ready to make someone's special day extra special! Come on - after that one, there's no other app that you need!

  1. gslusher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not on your life

    "GPS could be used in the future to determine when a party was going on, Ahtisaari said, by noting if a large number of users are in a small area."

    This is exactly the sort of invasive approach to people's data that Steve Jobs railed about in his D8 interview. Apps were gathering personal data (location, device ID, whatever they could access) and sending it to third-party analytic firms, who compiled the data and sold it, with a kickback to the app developer. Often, the apps didn't actually USE the data internally. Worse, not only did nthey not ask the user for permission, they did it without even telling the user and used various methods to hide what they were doing. Google is also notorious for this, including their "accidental" data collection about private wifi networks.

    If companies want to use my data, they need to 1) tell me; 2) ask for my permission; 3) limit the collection in time (e.g., I should have to give permission every day or two); and 4) compensate me in some meaningful and appropriate way, e.g., as supermarkets do with "club" cards. Otherwise, they can leave my data alone.

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