Nokia Needs More Design, Less Engineering

I was just reading a recent New York Times article, The Engineer-Driven Culture of Nokia, about how Nokia is dropping its cell phone operating system in favor of Microsoft’s. That amounts to a failure of Nokia to keep up with the new wave of smartphones.

Why did Nokia lose its dominant position in cell phones? Engineering won over design.

The article quotes Adam Greenfield, a former head of design direction at Nokia:

The engineers at Nokia brag about the number of megapixels a new phone has. But they don’t understand that if you can’t find the button to use the camera on the phone, it doesn’t matter how many megapixels it is.”

I run into this problem a lot within companies. It’s a typical “engineering culture.” In these environments, functionality is the dominant focus of the product development organizations. While functionality is clearly important, it represents only one of the three components of experience.

Design cultures, on the other hand, address the requirements of all three aspects of an experience:

  • Functional: Does it do what people want it to do?
  • Accessible: How easy is it for people to do what they want to do?
  • Emotional: How does it make people feel?

Even if a product has all of the functionality that customers may want, it will still likely fail if it’s hard to use and/or customers don’t feel good about owning or using it.

The bottom line: Focus more on design, less on engineering

Gen Y Brands Gain, Financial Brands Lose

Interbrand just published its annual ranking of the 100 best global brands. Here are the top 10 brands on the list:

  1. Coca Cola
  2. IBM
  3. Microsoft
  4. GE
  5. Nokia
  6. Totota
  7. Intel
  8. McDonald’s
  9. Disney
  10. Google

Here’s some of the other interesting details from the rankings:

  • Google is the only new entry to the top 10; it was 20th last year. Which company dropped out? Mercedes-Benz was 10th last year and is 11th this year.
  • The listing also provides the change in value of the brands since last year. Here are the biggest changes in brand value:
    • Top gainers: Google (+43%), Apple (+24%), Amazon (+19%), ZARA (+15%), SAP (+13%), and Nintendo (+13%)
    • Top losers: Merrill Lynch (-21%), Gap (-20%), Morgan Stanley (-16%), Citi (-15%), Ford (-12%), and UBS (-11%).
    • The top gainers are what I call “Gen Y brands,” they came to age during the early adulthood of 20 year-olds, while the losers are dominated by large financial institutions.
  • There were 7 new brands on the top 100 list this year: H&M (#22), Blackberry (#73), Ferrari (#93), Giorgio Armani (#94), Marriott (#96), FedEx (#99), and Visa (#100).
  • The highest ranked company on last year’s list that did not make this year’s top 100 was Kodak (#82 in 2007).
  • For fun, I went back and looked at the top 10 brands from 2001. Here they are:
    1. Coca Cola
    2. Microsoft
    3. IBM
    4. GE
    5. Nokia
    6. Intel
    7. Disney
    8. Ford
    9. McDonald’s
    10. AT&T

The bottom line: Just about everyone recognizes this: 

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