Microsoft has announced that it is parting company with its Nokia feature phone division, licencing it back to Finland. Fuss Free Phones hopes that the new company HMD global Oy will understand the value the Nokia brand has to the older generation.
HMD global Oy is formed of Nokia veterans, and they will take on the mantle of making mass market phones and tablets. Both feature phones – that is basic bar and flip phones – and smartphones using Android.
The feature phone market is traditionally seen as basic communication for emerging countries. Phones engineered to a price, often selling for under £5. Adding the Nokia name adds huge credibility. In India the word “Nokia” is a colloquialism for mobile phone, much like Hoover, Tannoy or Kleenex might be used for all vacuum cleaners, loudspeakers or tissues.
It would be a shame however if Nokia failed to grasp the opportunity to make phones for older people. The reputation for making mobiles easy to use, lingers. It’s something which dates back to the work Christian Lindholm did in the 1990s. He pioneered Nokia’s Series 30 and Navi-key software. Internally it was castigated as being so easy to use it was called the “Bimbo phone”.
But Easy To Use is A Good Thing.
What Fuss Free Phones would like to see is a new Nokia take this spirit and build phones for people who struggle with technology. There are some experts in the field, chief among them Doro, but there is also Emporia and the Samsung phones built for the US company Jitterbug. And there are lessons a new Nokia could take from all of them. To build on the mantra “Easy to see, easy to hear, easy to use”, would in the principals of inclusive design mean that phones which were optimised for older people would be better for everyone.
When Microsoft acquired big chunks of Nokia, it was always a bit strange that the deal included Feature phones, and not the HERE mapping division. Nokia in Finland subsequently sold HERE to a consortium of car companies. This new deal helps put things back to where they should have been.
Naturally Fuss Free Phones would want to see a big button on the back of the phone but there are a lot of much more subtle things which would make a phone even simpler. A clam with deeply dished buttons which stood proud when the clam was open, good use of colour and extra large speakers and microphones would all help.
Previously Nokia has shied away from the oldsters market: scared that a fuddy duddy impression would tarnish the cool youth image which brought us such hits as the Nokia N-gage.
Hopefully an older and wiser Nokia will understand that there is a huge market for older and wiser customers and we’ll see a Fuss Free Nokia in the future.