Nokia is an old dog in need of new tricks

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So, I want to make one thing perfectly clear from the get-go. I want a Nokia Lumia 1020. I want it hard. I want it so bad I can taste it. But as I watched the presentation in the company of my colleagues here at the Pocketnow Live hangout, all we kept talking about was camera, camera, camera. All Stephen Elop kept talking about was camera, camera, camera. It was almost as if we’d all be surprised when they actually made a phone call form this thing. To a man, we all pretty much decided there would be 5 less Lumias for sale by the end of the year, cyan notwithstanding, and we were all happy.

But then the pomp de-pomped and the circumstance de…um…circumstanced, and I took off my party hat and thought about it. What did Nokia really do today?

Nokia Lumia 1020The Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera

They showed off a spectacular camera. It was all digitaly zoomy (with no loss) and manipulateable and focusable and all sorts of pretty. Then they showed us the camera some more. Then they showed us…wait for it….more camera. It was on this hook that Nokia hung its hat.

Which is great. We were all really looking forward to this camera of epic proportions. It was gigantic and every bit as sexy as it should have been. But that was really it.  It was just a camera. A great camera to be sure, but it was just a camera.

I’m not so sure we’re all correct for celebrating what Nokia should have done, is supposed to do. Nokia has spent  years building up their camera. It started with the Pureview 808, a.k.a. “the Tony phone”. It continued with the long line of Lumia flagship devices that followed. Heck, camera innovation even found its way into Nokia’s non-smart Asha phones. Cameras are like Nokia’s thing.

Ok. So what else ya got?

Don’t get me wrong, The camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 looks fantastic beyond fantatstic’s dreams.  I really can’t say this enough. But making a really great camera makes Nokia a one-trick pony. There is a reason why one-trick pony’s aren’t in the center ring of the smartphone circus. Because they only have one trick.

WeeHee! A camera!

WeeHee! A camera!

But maybe one trick is enough to ride on, especially the first time out of the gate. Everyone will go to see a really cool thing once. What if that one trick is fantastic enough that it can in fact carry the entire line forward. Replacing a camera in your bag or on your belt is no small feat. Heck, just removing the purchase of a point and shoot camera alone might be worth the extra dinero on AT&T’s $299 price tag. If you have a Lumia 1020, with 2 stages of pure-view flavor, you wouldn’t even need a standard shutter flipper any more. Professionals are a different discussion of course. But at the end of the day, this is one really, really superb trick that this pony does.

But…

When I go to someone’s house and they show me their dog that doesn’t sit, stay, fetch, come, or beg, I’m not going to be impressed with the fact that they can bark out “I love you”. You will still have a broken dog. It’s a broken dog with a very impressive ability sure to garner hundreds of youtube hits, but if it continues to pee on your floor when guests come over, that dog is going to lose its appeal very quickly.

Nowhere to go

DSC_6872

Them is some good cameras.

And that’s the situation Nokia finds itself in now. Nokia has maxed out the camera trick. It’s time to move on to something else that is truly innovative. What that is, I have no idea. If I did have an idea, my paycheck would say “Nokia” on it. But it really is time to move on, and don’t even think about producing another flagship phone with less than 41 megapixels ever again. This is now your bread and butter. But we need to learn to cook something new and tasty to go with that bread and butter.

I’m very happy for Nokia, I really am. But at the same time, I’m hoping this is not the peak of Nokia’s performance in the smartphone area, because if it is, it’s not enough. I said on the Live earlier, that this phone could mean three to five percent market share. That’s no small feat considering that is almost doubling Windows Phone’s current market share. But it will not be enough to carry this platform forward, which makes it almost a gimmick.

It just got real

So no laurel-resting Nokia. It’s time to get down to the real work. The 41 megapixel camera is now your lifeboat in the sea of fruits and bots. You have some time before your rations dry up and you begin to get really sunburned. Use this time to develop the next big thing (Oh-no-he-didn’t-oh-yes-he-did) that can stand along side your camera as the compelling features of your future phones. Otherwise, all the buildup, all the leaks, and all the megapixels in the world will not save you.

Learn some new tricks. Start now. Or preferably yesterday.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!