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Nokia lets operators screw with customise the N900

The customer is always right - the customer is not you

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Nokia has been busy reassuring network operators that they will be able to muck about with the branding on the Maemo-based N900, despite rumours to the contrary.

A posting on the company's blog makes it clear that while Nokia has worked hard to improve the customer experience on their latest high-end handset, they're not going to stop network operators screwing up that experience in exchange for a decent subsidy.

Network variants aren't necessarily a bad thing - pre-installing the settings for MMS and internet connectivity makes a lot of sense, and no-one can seriously expect network operators to pay for handsets without asking customers to sign a contract.

But less welcome are the "quick access to essential function" menus, or "short cuts to revenue-generating services" as they are more accurately known.

Network operators are, surprising as it may seem, even worse at designing interfaces than engineers: teams put together for such work are often comprised of web monkeys and middle management, neither of whom has any idea how to make a mobile phone work - your correspondent filled the latter role in some terrible interface designs.

When Nokia explained how it had worked so hard on the N900 experience desperate users thought the company might mandate against changes, as Apple has done. But it's not to be: "While we have not announced immediate plans to offer an operator variant for the N900, there are many customisation points for operators on the N900. It would be absolutely incorrect to assume that we will not offer operators the ability to tailor future Maemo devices to suit their needs."

That's "their needs", not "your needs": Nokia is hoping network operators will pay for the handset, so they will be at liberty to alter its configuration to push guide users towards premium services to help recoup that cost, and if you don't like it then Nokia will be delighted to sell you a SIM-free version, as long as you're prepared to pay for it. ®

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