Why Nokia doesn't get the same love as Apple

25th Aug 2009 | 12:00

Why Nokia doesn't get the same love as Apple

The Booklet won't have people queuing outside shops

Imagine if, when Apple finally unveils its tablet computer, the world simply shrugs its shoulders - or Apple unveils a sleek metal netbook designed specifically for HD video, and the world goes "meh".

September's inevitable iPod updates would be greeted with derision, not wild applause, and nobody would have the faintest idea who Steve Jobs is.

Welcome to Planet Nokia.

It's impossible not to think about Apple when you look at the Booklet, Nokia's entry into the netbook market: it's sleek, stylish and ultra-light, and it looks pretty similar to the Photoshop mockups of Apple netbooks we've seen in recent months.

Unlike an Apple netbook, however, the Booklet probably won't have people queuing outside shops all night to get their hands on one or making excited unboxing videos when they get home. Why not? Because it's a Nokia.

Phones? Nokia knows a bit about them, and it's been building smartphones since God was a boy - and while its models might not be as sexy as the iPhone, they do manage to pull off something the iPhone struggles with: making and receiving phone calls.

You're not forced to use a particular phone network, either, and its cameraphones pack decent cameras. A subscription version of iTunes? Nokia's got that with Comes With Music. Apps and Maps, portable gaming, push email and Exchange support? Nokia's got those, too.

Take the tablets

It's the same with tablets. Apple's one hasn't even been seen yet, but there are already endless blogs about how it's going to change the world, end all wars and make our coats shinier.

Nokia's been building tablet computers for ages, and there's a new one en route. Where are the Sunday newspaper puff-pieces rounding up the rumours about that one? As Boy Genius Report put it back in May: "It's hard to get overly excited about the N900 Rover because, well, it's a Nokia tablet."

Last but not least, there's the company itself. Everyone knows who Steve Jobs is, and his sidekicks Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive are pretty well-known, too. If we told you that Nokia's key executives were Stig Nokia, Ulrika Jonsson and the chef from the Muppets, we're pretty sure at least a few people would believe us.

So what's the difference? There's no doubt that Apple has a design ethos that Nokia doesn't, so for example the iPhone interface is much nicer than anything Nokia has to offer and the iPhone OS makes Symbian look pretty shoddy.

But we think there's more to it than that. A big part of it is that Nokia stuff is everywhere, and it's hard to feel like a cutting-edge gadget geek when you've got the same phone as your dad or - whisper it - poor people. And an even bigger part of it is that Apple doesn't sell products; it sells a lifestyle.

And that's one think Nokia simply cannot do. No matter how good its products, how stylish its designs, Nokia kit simply doesn't make a statement in the way that Apple kit does.

When you buy an iPhone you're buying into a narrative, choosing hardware that says to a watching world: "Hey, look at me! I have lots of money, a keen sense of design aesthetics and I don't really care if my phone isn't very good at making and receiving phone calls!"

When you buy a Nokia, you're just buying a phone.

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Liked this? Then check out Why Nokia is releasing a netbook

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