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The Camel: Nokia unveils user designed phone

What you get when you design by committee

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Nokia's Designed By Community project has reached the sketch stage, with three designs being put to the public vote to decide what the perfect Nokia handset should look like.

Nokia's project - inviting the general public to vote and debate what constitutes the perfect mobile phone - has created a specification with all the innovation and flair that one might expect from something designed by a committee of thousands, and does more to demonstrate the competition's failings than what Nokia should be doing.

Part of the problem has been the limited options on which visitors were asked to vote, but mostly the project highlights the pointlessness of asking users what they want – they'll tell you they want a slightly better version of what they've got.

So the "Nokia U" (as the vote named it) has a capacitive touch screen, a lens cover and "super strength" durability. It offers "unlimited" multitasking, and supports multiple OSs and HDMI. This merely shows what's irritating today's smartphone users, rather than offering genuine innovation.

Three proposed models

The available options, which look much better on Nokia Conversation

It's ironic that as this project was running a new book from a former Nokia executive argues that the company needs to spend less time listening to potential customers, and more time making interesting products. As Juhani Risku told us in an interview: "If you think about Apple, they don't ask anybody. The idea of users as designers is a catastrophe."

Nokia isn't actually planning to manufacture the "Nokia U"; the only commitment is to create some pretty pictures based on the results of this final vote. The project is intended as an information-gathering exercise, but it seems to us that lack of information is the least of Nokia's current problems. ®

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