Nokia’s not helping itself with fake PR promos

Oh Nokia, once the darling of the mobile industry and now everyone’s whipping boy. The company can’t seem to catch a break, and this week’s highly anticipated launch of new Windows Phone handsets hasn’t gone smoothly. Even having Steve Ballmer, who’s famous for his gravitas at launches *cough*, couldn’t stop a huge dive in share price post-Lumia news.

That said, Nokia isn’t doing itself any favours with its PR and marketing content. A video shown at the Lumia launch supposedly captured footage using Nokia’s optical image stabilisation (OIS) technology on the new phone. Sadly, it turns out the video was actually shot on an SLR camera.

The video features two actors on cycles riding side by side while one films the other on a Nokia phone. A wide shot at the opening of the video shows the phone, then cuts to a supposed in-camera shot of the second rider being filmed. It follows on with a trip to a funfair and an impromptu photo shoot in the street. Lovely.

However, an eagle eyed reporter on The Verge spotted a reflection towards the end of the video clearly showing a guy holding what looks like an SLR camera riding in a van. At no point did the video display a disclaimer about the nature of the footage, although the YouTube version now does.

Having been caught out, Nokia posted a blog post to apologise. What’s more amazing is Nokia had a perfectly good genuine video that could have used, which has been published with the apology. Says the blog, “Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only. This was not shot with a Lumia 920. At least, not yet. We apologise for the confusion we created.”

Which is all well and good, but one wonders if ‘an apology would be due’ if they hadn’t been caught out. Hindsight is 20/20, but you don’t need perfect vision to see the video cut is highly misleading.

@simonhill

Nokia focuses on BBC to attract other VOD developers to Windows Phone

Good news for those fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who (and any of those other hundreds of programmes the BBC makes but are less good for SEO purposes) who also happen to own a Windows Phone – the BBC iPlayer is a comin’ to your device.

According to a Nokia staffer, the “BBC iPlayer is expected to arrive on Windows Phone within the next few weeks”. Nokia has become a sort of poster child for Windows Phone, and getting the iPlayer working smoothly through a dedicated app would be a nice tick in the box.

However, same said source also reportedly stated a similar app for Sky’s Go service won’t be ready for a “good few months”, and there’s no comment on other UK catch-up services from ITV and channels 4 and 5. Nokia could be thinking getting the BBC iPlayer on board first should attract developers from the other big players to the Windows Phone Marketplace. Which seems like a responsible assumption – but there’s more than one type of ‘catch-up’ Nokia should be concerned about.

@simonhill

Invent with Nokia: either brilliance or madness

Nokia’s not exactly top of the most loved list right now. The company’s share of the mobile phone market has dropped over the last few years in Europe, largely in the face of particularly rigid competition and the emergence of the all powerful smartphone – which Nokia hasn’t quite managed to crack.

Memos to staff encouraging them to kick-up their game a notch or two haven’t changed its fortunes, at least in light of the company’s latest new ideas initiative. Rather than rely on their own employees, Nokia has launched ‘Invent with Nokia’, an initiative that “invites external inventors to contribute to Nokia’s future growth”. They even tweeted about it – look.

This could prove a risky move for the company to do so openly in public. A cynic might wonder if Nokia has exhausted its own ideas, as Pocket-Lint points out, and is scrambling to get fresh insight from external sources.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with some sanity checking, and a bit of humility. It can be a very good thing in putting a halt to compliancy. But when you’re riding high on a wave of disappointing sales quarter, a move like this isn’t going to fill your shareholders with excitement and glee. Even if this venture does lead to a success, can Nokia claim it as their own? To quote a famous blacksmith turned pirate, “this is either brilliance or madness”.

The evolution of the mobile phone

Love them or hate them, the mobile phone has become a permanent fixture in every household and on every person, whether you’re 10 or 70, everyone has one.

Thanks to Steve Jobs and his iPhone crew at Apple, the mobile phone industry has come a long way from the days of the pull out antenna and portable battery packs the size of a watering can.

I recently came across a series of old school mobile phone adverts from the likes of Motorola, Ericsson and even Nokia, I had a good chuckle but was also astounded by the rapid rate at which this technology has developed over the last 15 years.

This got me pondering about the evolution of the mobile phone and how innovation and our dependence on technology and constant connectivity has shaped this particular device’s evolution.

Check out the evolution on video by clicking on the picture below. It was interesting to spot the number of handsets I’ve owned over the last 10 years and how they correspond with the year the phone was issued. Good times.

So how many mobiles have you owned?

The CEO’s right to rant

An infographic published on Paid Content underlines just how far Nokia’s fall from grace has been in the developed world. The graphic, developed by iCrossing, shows Nokia has lost out hugely to iOS and Android across the US, Canada and key territories in Europe. At best it’s running a distant third, at worst it doesn’t even figure in a top four list by country.

The significant shift has resulted from competitor companies doing it better, faster and cheaper than Nokia – a sentiment echoed by the company’s CEO Stephen Elop in a memo to employees earlier this month. Of competitors, he stated:

“They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us”

Was Elop right to send a memo such as this to his employees? John Conoley, chief executive at Psion, thinks so. In an opinion piece published by BBC Online, he states:

“…the only reason to be angry with your CEO is if he is not prepared to take tough decisions. Some jobs are going to go. Do nothing, and all the jobs go. If you look carefully at his letter, he is clear on the direction of the company and he can see the beginnings of renewed differentiation in the future. He cares about success for your company”.

The argument does carry some weight, there is something to be said for facing hard times head on. If you truly believe your employees are not pushing hard to win against stiff competition, it’s up to numero uno to step in and get things moving forward. Which is what I believe Elop was trying to achieve.

From the PR perspective, one point niggles at my mind. The comment from Conoley reading:

“You have a boss who has just told you how it is. He treated you like adults and he did not care who outside the company knew it.”

Telling it like it is, fine. Treating you like adults, very fine. But not caring who outside the organisation knows it, not fine. Such careless behaviour opens a whole can of media and stakeholder speculation, covering how Nokia is being run, employee morale and general questions on the company’s long term future. Nokia is already facing rift rumour and downbeat coverage. This kind of uncontrolled media speculation will do nothing to enhance the company’s reputation – or employee enthusiasm.

Moreover, it opens all Nokia employees to unwanted questions from business contacts, partners and even friends and family. Imagine being a Nokia sales guy and trying to close a deal when you’re buyer turns and says “I read online even your CEO thinks your competitors are doing a better job, so why should I buy from you?” With your record breaking deal lost, you slink to the comfort of the pub only to be asked unwanted questions by friends over a pint, before heading home to a spouse who is worried about your long term career prospects.

The slightly cynical flip side of this particular coin is the entire situation was a carefully orchestrated plot to demonstrate the CEO is fully in control of a company seemingly in desperate need of some direction and ‘tough love’. The timing of the leak, in the immediate run up to Mobile World Congress, the largest mobile show in the world, adds some credence to this theory. A wake up call for a complacent workforce, albeit arguably inappropriately public.

This may be an exaggeration, but from the communications perspective such situations and discussions should be at the discretion of individual employees and not decided by one man in a suit – regardless of his position.