Nokia Loses The Plot

Posted on February 26, 2013


This week Nokia pushed out an update to its ‘Nokia Drive‘ Windows Phone application. The pre-eminent satellite navigation application of the Nokia Windows Phone platform partnership.

Wonderful, reminds me of the great new real time service world we are now living in where updates come automatically and services are iteratively improved. So goes the story. But for the fact that the Nokia update this week forgot the rules and left me amongst many other Nokia an HTC users stranded and frustrated.

What appears to have happened is Nokia has ‘flipped a bit’ in their software that now restricts the application to providing directional guidance to users default region ONLY. The UK in my case. Somewhat useless as I am sitting in the US. The worst of it was at the weekend the application got me up to Stevens Pass, WA, for some wonderful skiing, only for the update at lunch to then deny me directional guidance to get home! Not that I would mind being stranded on the hill, there was some great snow to carve up, but I was due to be in Seattle the next day for meetings with none other than their Phone buddy Microsoft. If this was a conscious feature addition or rectification of a bug that should have had this locked down in the first place is largely irrelevant. Nokia were aware of what they were doing and the impact was crystal clear to even the most closeted of product development managers.

This would not have been so bad IF they had declared this in the update log, but they did not, I tend to check the update logs before hitting update as some app vendors have done manipulative things in the past. Nokia did not provide any notice, furthermore they provide NO means for me to purchase or extend my applications regional support, or any guidance as to how I could remedy the situation. Just a cold and hostile message that left me stranded.

This has without doubt been poorly implemented and I fear Nokia will hide behind the line that the software is technically classed as BETA = user beware. The lesson for Nokia is in this day and age a company of its calibre should be aware of the new attitude that BETA or not users should be respected and such dramatic feature changes communicated or fear the worst, brand trust and confidence damage, so easily incurred, so hard to regain. It is a very delicate balance dealing with real time, something I would not have expected Nokia to have got wrong having had more time in this type of service game than many. But a lesson none the less to ALL companies, that if Nokia can get it so wrong we all need to tread carefully.

The outcome is, I have now been driven (excuse the pun) by Nokia’s poor handling of this functionality injection into finding a replacement and at a commercial cost (£79 in my case) that will not see me reverting back to the Nokia application. Cost was never the issue, as such they have not only lost a user they have lost a customer and revenue to boot. Furthermore it has breached a delicate trust that means I am no longer have confidence this Nokia service has my best interests in mind and will not be venturing into the Nokia service or device ownership space in a hurry again.

Nokia has some damage limitation and trust re-building to do. At the moment I see little to suggest they even care. We can but hope.