nokia_connecting_people.pngA little while ago, Business Week named Nokia’s executive vice-president, markets, Anssi Vanjoki was named one of 25 Most Influential Peopel on the Web. Business Week noted that:

Vanjoki is responsible for convincing consumers as well as business partners that Nokia’s devices are useful for much more than talking and occasionally snapping a photo. The “multimedia computers,” as Vanjoki likes to call Nokia smartphones, are becoming gateways to the Internet and services such as social networking, music downloads or navigation. Nokia will need all the determination that the hard-driving Vanjoki, who hunts bear in his spare time, can muster. It’s directly taking on Apple, Google, and Research in Motion.

Nokia challenge to the iPhone and answer to Google’s Android have been pretty high profile. When it comes to taking on the Blackberry, however, the Finnish company hasn’t been as racuous.

Well, now that they offer email service (in beta), a bit of their strategy is starting to come into focus. Today I sat in on a Nokia Email Service Q&A session on their new email service, and it seem that Nokia is again using the strength and popularity of their consumer devices to leverage some clout in the email market. As Davis Fields, their Email Community Product Manager, explained:

Nokia is shifting into being an internet company, and email is a top priority for Nokia. […] When a consumer walks into a phone store, and asks to see all the email phones, the clerk pulls out seven qwerty keyboard devices: three blackberries, two nokias, two other phones. Today, chances are, the blackberry gets picked quite often — they have a nice email solution with nice phones.

But, most people come into a phone and say “show me your best camera phone,” or “your best music phone,” or “the phone with the longest battery life,” or “phones for active lifestyle,” or “phones with GPS navigation,” or “phones under $100.” Chances are for those categories, there’s more Nokia’s in those categories than any of our competitors. Nokia will win its generous [market] share of these phones, and once they choose the Nokia, the operator has the opportunity to sell the consumer email on their phone. Our strategy is making email easy to say “yes to” as opposed to [simply] the reason someone buys a phone.

Basically, what Steve Jobs did with an mp3 player, Nokia is doing with mobile phones. If half of their product strategy is bundling, however, the other half is access and usability. As Nokia Email Service Product Manager, Andrew Mahon, elaborated:

At Nokia we believe, even though mobile email has been available for years, the amount of users who use mobile email has been disapointingly low. Through our research, we have found that there are three main obstacles to the adoption of mobile email: (1) discoverability: people don’t even know that their phones can get email, even though it’s been on the phone for years, (2) those who discover email on the phone have a very difficult time getting it setup and functioning, (3) unpredictability of cost: users don’t have control over how many emails they receive, worry about receiving large bill at the end of the month. To solve the discoverability problem, our intention is to include email on the phone (pre-installed on the phone, to answer earlier question), and make it readily apparent on the home screen [and from] initial startup that the phone supports email.

In a nutshell, if you give it to them, and it works, they will use it. As Davis Fields added:

Through our research, our design is focused on the five main things: scanning inbox/reading/deleting/reply/composing email. We’re spending our resources optimizing those core mobile email functions.

It seems that Nokia has taken a cue from Steve Jobs on more than just making, as Vanjoki puts it, a “multimedia computer.” They’re focusing on providing usability to the average, mass-consumer.

As successful as the iPhone has been, Nokia probably has a wider appeal if only because they’ve been selling phones for a lot longer. Nokia smart phones are also, well, a whole lot smarter. They do more than just play music and navigate the world wide interwebs.This is why there are a slew of cats who won’t use an iPhone.

If Steve Jobs wants to hold on to his market lead, then, he might have to come up with some kind of email solution. Mind you, he’s Steve f**king Jobs, and is probably two (if not three, four, five) steps ahead of this blogging a**hole on that one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *