In what must be the most significant announcement since it unveiled its new corporate font, Nokia has announced an all-new naming strategy. After exhaustive blue-sky brainstorming sessions in the saunas of the frozen North, Nokia has decided that product names are going to be numbers, just as they were for most of the company's …
The day Nokia signed with Microsoft is the day they died.
They could always...
start at 1
Only one number needed; probably have gone under before WinPho8.
I think this is the only one of Andrew's Anti-Nokia rants that I've ever agreed with.
Nokia's product naming has been a disaster, basically forever. Which is odd because all of their phones have internal code names, many of which would be perfect as real product names. The N900 is called "Rover" internally, for example. A brilliant name. Why couldn't they keep it?
@Ami, you're not from the UK, are you? When you hear Rover you might be thinking of Mars or perhaps a faithful hound. Here though the name has primarily more negative, automotive, connotations these days. [Queue Rover Owner’s Club Fanboy backlash]
Having said that, I think there's a lot to be said for a name/number and a year. Like cars. It avoids reuse without too much confusion.
Except when car manufacturers change the name of a car because the car has been around for decades. Like when they changed the Escort to the Focus because 'the car' had been around since the 60s. Really? You really expect us to believe that?
"That" Rover? Really?
I'd have assumed it was taken from the nickname for the sentry robots in The Prisoner.
The proper one (apart from the last episode), although I acknowledge Ruth Wilson was very pretty in the remake.
I thought Nokia's big mistake had been making far too many phones, too quickly (while creating internal squabbles within teams doing the OS, the case, the components etc).
If they focused on making a few, amazing phones then maybe it would be less hassle to name them and then they would not need to roll out an endless sequence of numbers.
Agreed with HP Cynic
Nokia have for a long time been consumer market leaders churning out a torrent of handsets one after the other. Other manufacturers have tried to find niches and spent a lot me time in the R & D and as a result of this have made significant sales because of it.
Get back to basics Nokia and design some really outstanding handsets (around 3-4 per year) which will get your name surging back up the handset charts.
Agree with HP Cynic
Just too many phones doing too many different things. As manager of the phone contract it was hard to work out what was good and what was meant to be good but really the cheap one of the two. As it wasn't my sole job just gave up and started ordering Blackberries instead.
Look out HTC going the same way with 3 phones for every lifestyle group!
Right now they have three different naming schemes for products that you can buy right now.
The classic four-digit series(e.g. 1616, 2700)
The newer letter and two-digit series (e.g. E72)
The crappy one they have just ditched (e.g. C6-00)
And now a three digit series that makes it harder to tell if this is a Series 40, Symbian or Windows device.
And that's ignoring the ridiculous Nokia Oro and the developer-only N950.
Although to be fair, Nokia aren't the only one to go through this silliness. If you want a really stupid name, try the "Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro".
We still need an Elop icon.
<---We do have an "Elop Effect" icon
The two best things Nokia ever did were first the 5110, and then the 6310i. They were the Gold Standard of their time and I would unhesitatingly use either phone today.
Speaking of the 6310i,
I still have one, with it's original battery. It can sit in standby for two weeks - two weeks! - on a single charge. Astounding.
I have an original iphone that can sit in standby for almost a week.
Not *that* much of a difference - except that it rarely manages to be left alone for that long.
Either my wife or daughter is messing with it playing games, listening to music, browsing, etc etc etc.....
One of the many reasons why Nokia is now potentially screwed.
I also have a decent(?) Nokia the same age which is only ever messed with by me, and never for long cos it's crap. Maybe that's why the battery lasts so long?
You must live right under a cell tower so the phone's radio is running on minimal power (they ramp up their output as the mast gets further away) plus not having to deal with 3G is always a bonus on the power front.
It's always a shock when you turn off the 3G data, wifi and all the other bells and whistles when you roam outside of the country (avoiding horrendous roaming charges) and see what happens to the battery life. I went for a day in Paris earlier in the year (from the UK). Turned the radio off in the tunnel (see previous comment about output power to reach distant cell), turned it back on once in France and had a lovely day. On the way back 12 hours later I check the battery level. 93%!
If only those bells and whistles weren't so thirsty.
This is where IPv6 could come in handy.
Ah, the mighty seven-six. I loved the 7610.
The New Holland TM/TW names are better than the FIAT-Agri ones, but still don't have the slip-off-the-tongue quality of the greats like the 5000, the 6610 and 7740.
Is it a coincidence that the 8xx series never really took off for Rover or BMW and the 8xxx series never really took off for Ford?
Intel naming convention also sucks...
...but their internal design projects naming conventions are another thing. How about chips named Arrandale or Clarkdale or Northwood instead of the more cryptic "Pentium i7 2600k" whatever?
Few people know which Pentium 4 that could get really hot, but when you said "Prescott" - bingo - every hardware enthusiast under the sun knew what we were talking about, a chip that could boil a water jug just by being turned on. It was even nicknamed "PRES-HOT" after the fact.
Actually, the Pentium moniker was in use since, I don't know, 1990? And the "Core" moniker is also going the same route, being overused and being used both in run-of-the-mill cheap by-the-dozen designs and ultra-fast, power-per-clock, top-line chips.
Unlike Nokia, Intel designs are going somewhere, with a freaking roadmap to match. They could name it "dog's bollocks 1", and as long it works, nobody gives a damn...
The Core i7 2600k does not have 'Pentium' in its name anywhere. Of course, the fact that you can get this wrong really just backs up your point. =)
The problem with codenames is that you always run out sooner or later (Clarkdale is one implementation of Nehalem, for instance, and Nehalem is a 'recycled codename' - Intel used it before), and they don't have enough segmentation. Clarkdale is a codename for a particular processor which is sold in at least five different configurations - https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Clarkdale_%28microprocessor%29 . Of course, maybe we'd all be better off if Intel didn't try to parcel up the same hardware sixty different ways to try and sell it to different people, but that's by-the-by. You couldn't just 'call it Clarkdale', it'd have to be the Clarkdale Business 1, Clarkdale Business 2, Clarkdale Budget 1, Clarkdale Consumer 1 and so on, or some similar silliness.
I got the name wrong on purpose, just to prove a point. In fact, naming slightly dissimilar products (or completely different with the same name) is problematic, to say the least.
It has worked great for Intel so far, that was able to mask that a 580$ part (that would be the Core i7 990X) runs just barely faster than a 250$ part (the Core i7 2600k being a totally different chip than the 'Core' 990x) and only exceeds that performance with jobs that can be divided in multiple cores (being it a hex-core part pitted against a quad core chip).
By the way, if you know Portuguese you will understand the term "Lentium"...
Nokia fiddle while Rome has already burnt down.
If Nokia's poor efforts of the last few years are anything to go by they will now spend lots and time and effort thinking up pretty new names yet the phones themselves will be a massive disappointment - stripped of features, late to market and require firmware update after firmware update to get basic functionality before a few months later Nokia get bored and do something else leaving anyone still buying Nokia handsets shafted again.
As a former Nokia fan - we don't care what you call it, just make something innovative that works!
The curse of the four-digit product code
Apple used it too in the early 1990s, and it was downhill all the way from there. I think it's a sign that the company has lost sight of its customers, kind of a bad "code smell" for product development.
The biggest advantage of the 4-digit model code seems to be that it makes it easier to map the product's marketing name to its bill of materials on your ERP system. In Apple's case, say, a 5300 desktop* would have been under a XXX-5300 entry in the ERP system (XXX is some random 3-digit number that I no longer remember; ERP was not my job, but those numbers were used in software releases too, so we heard them regularly enough), and under that code would be all the bits and pieces needed to ship it.
Small win for logistics, manufacturing and planning, big loss for your customers. Once the memorable numbers are gone, you end up presenting your customers with puzzles like: "was that phone your friend had a 5320 or a 5230?". Segmenting the market made it worse. After all, what's the point of having all these possible model numbers without using them?
The N,C,X,E plan was an attempt to explain the rationale behind the product segmentation a bit better, but the real issue wasn't that people didn't understand the numbers, it was that people didn't understand why that segmentation was there in the first place. Why they couldn't just buy "the best Nokia" model? Every other successful manufacturer offers a "this is the best we make" model, because there's a sizeable minority of customers who want exactly that, and will pay extra for it.
Steve Jobs's big idea after taking over at Apple was to reduce the company's then sprawling range to a simple matrix of just four products (PowerBook, iBook, iMac, PowerMac), and make each of those the best in their class, without competition from other products made by the company. Nokia probably need more than four to cover every big price-point from €30 to €600, but the total number really shouldn't be into double digits.
At least with just one model at each price point, there's now a chance of them making something pretty compelling at each price point. The Nokia 500 is a good start - it mightn't look like much, but compare it with the experience you'll get for its price (€150 plus tax less subsidy) in Android land, and looks like being the first competitive smartphone from Nokia since the N8.
* as an aside, Apple were not above reusing model numbers across different types of product, often far too quickly. The number 5300 was even used for a laptop and a desktop that were in the market at the same time!
Can't help but wonder...
... why am I reading this? Of course, as an excuse to commentard away. Well, then if I must, I must.
I can think of better numbers to speculate with (stock markets come to mind, maybe rating agencies ratings), as even the fanciest new naming, er, numbering schemes will not come with a free sixpack of buzz nevermind handy dandy airline sized sachets of relevance.
Of course, too many people in nokia not to try. But having been well and truly had by the borg, the word "futile" comes to mind an afwul lot. For anyone still interested there are quite a lot of interesting questions open. Like:
What is their new strategy, really? Who of the crud, er, upper and middle management, if anyone, has been let go lately? Did they manage to retain some of their skilled phone hardware designer teams? What about letting them come up with interesting stuff, a thing that was so thorougly stiffled under the management structure that elop declined to revamp? How is their segmentation relevant to the markets today? What does this have to do with the price of a nokia phone, and why in the world would anyone bother with such a thing anyway?
The enduring troubles with my e52 (most recently the display glass fell off, only partially as a result of extremely aggravating experiences with some of its system software, and I am now seriously contemplating finding a replacement battery for the old 6310) give me a pretty clear answer to at least that last question. For the rest, well, Andrew will be more motivated to do the research and anyway he's getting paid for writing it all down too. So. Do tell.
For a bonus, nokia corporate culture shows signs of being as much in reality denial as micros~1's, with such gems as capping off the doomed-from-the-start but even so ever impressively mishandled open sourcing of symbian with "open for business" as an "acceptable substitute", and ignoring any and all critique and dissent. Have they even tried to mend their ways there? I see exactly no signs of this.
(Insert ill-executed joke about four letter phone names and DIAF being too good for them here.)
Back in the day
Back in the day when the 1611, 3110 & 8110 came out the internal names were Homer, Bart and Lisa.
Actually not meaning to be pedantic (well ok I am) I thought Technophone was a UK company founded by a Swede (Nils Mårtensson) who made some pretty smart stuff for the time (and were the UK's only cellphone manufacturer) before Nokia bought them so many years ago I don't want to remember.
Ahhh they were fun days as a teen building phones at the factory. I think that's what pisses me off most about what Nokia has done to themselves now, remembering just how damn good they were in those days.
Well maybe not quite "ahem" ...
One small fact you blithely ignored was that Technophone was the name of an independent company bought by Nokia in 1991. Nokia did not name their phones "Technophone", but quickly withdrew the product line and actually converted the production line over to BTS. That was the original Nokia BTS factory site in Camberley.
But don't let me stand in the way of a prejudiced rant.
LG kind of solved this problem by giving each phone a nice name (e.g. Cookie) after the model code.
Shame everything apart from their top range phones are crap. This is where Nokia does the boring stuff like coverage, call quality, and battery life. But it's not got a nice name or a version in pink.
Wonderful, isn't it? The first thing a company does after a huge financial crisis is to spend more money on product naming. I expect they've got new stationery, too. It's like women getting a drastic hairdo after a divorce...
Now, where's that parapet?
Perfect time for Nokia to change everything about. It's not like anyone is watching anything they do anymore is it!
Matrix banana phone
First Nokia I had was the Orange Nk502 or 8110. That was the one used in the Matrix but modified to have a pop-out slider with Nokia on the bottom for extra product placement. Orange used their own numbering system which they soon ditched along with writing their own manuals to replace the manufacturer ones.
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