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Nokia gets it right by making the instruction manual obsolete

Nokia sells 14 phones every second. Could it be because the darned things are so easy to use?

3 min read

I would very much like to know what kind of relationships Nokia engineers had with their parents. And what sort of toys they played with as children.

I ask because I was intrigued by a New York Times interview with Tero Ojanpera, Nokia's Executive Vice President for Entertainment and Communities.

Mr. Ojanpera has a simple and positive vision of the future.

There will be you, your cellphone, your needs and your cellphone's YES button.

He believes that Nokia will be able to create phones that will be able to give you access to movies, shows, the finest spiritual lap dancing communities, the nearest clean, vacant five-star ashrams and, for ad agency employees, the nearest gym with a Google logo punchbag, all with just one click of your YES button.

I find Mr. Ojanpera's vision convincing.

Here's why.

I have never been able to use any other company's cellphone.

In the 90s, when America was being dazzled by the supposed revolution that was the Iridium satellite phone (by the look of it, it weighed more than Mary-Kate Olsen, and its ads were as tasteful as Rhubarb and Pepto-Bismol Pie), Europe was already enjoying rather cute cellphones.

I was in Europe at the time and someone wandered into my office and gave me a Nokia.

Though I am as technically inclined as a rancid raccoon, I could actually make this thing work.

I could even send text messages to people in meetings. (me: HOW'S IT GOING? reply: THE CLIENT'S GOT A FOUR-INCH HAIR HANGING OUT OF HIS NOSTRIL.)

There have been moments when, having arrived in the US, I was deceived by unscrupulous cellphone providers who foisted other brands on me.

Couldn't make them work. Even after staring at the instruction manual for days.

It got to the point where I took a malfunctioning non-Nokia back to the store.

and look how lovely Finland is. mdid

The boy behind the counter, looking for all the world as if he had sniffed glue that was well past its sell-by date, said: "Oh, yeah. We've been having trouble with these. In fact, we've discontinued them."

He then was charming enough to offer to replace my phone with another.

It was exactly the same phone, but, and I want to know who invented this word, 'reconstituted'.

I canceled my service right there and trawled around various sad little stores until I could find a provider with a Nokia.

Again, I could make it work with no manual. It was just like meeting your high school lover after ten years (oh, no, wait, JC Penney says teenage sex is bad for you).

I ask about the engineers and their psyches, because there must be something in the way these engineers think and feel that is different from the engineers of other companies.

They seem to understand the functions of the human brain to a degree that at least I, for one, find uncanny.

I am aware that this post sounds like someone at Nokia has paid me.

The truth is, I keep paying them.

I have a battered, dying Nokia 9300 in my pocket and I bought it in some extremely shady store (the phone didn't even come with an instruction manual) because my last one died from over-exertion.

In this state of mindless blindness, I am therefore already convinced that Mr. Ojanpera and his engineers will succeed in their aim to bring the world to my cellphone and a cellphone to my world.

You want brand insights, naive hope and a warped view of the world? Welcome.

You want objectivity? Try the news blogs.