Feeds

HTC design cleans Nokia's clock

And Apple's too

The Power of One Infographic

Comment A stone's throw from El Reg's West End Office is Nokia's London design office. If the windows on Great Pulteney Street appear to be steamed up, here's a clue why.

Nokia owes much of its success to design, and employs some of the world's best designers. In the 1990s Nokia put design at the heart of its product development strategy. Nokia gave us small, slim pocketable phones, rather than something operated by Radar O'Reilly from M*A*S*H. It also made the external antenna disappear, and pioneered some erstwhile unthinkable ideas such as customisable covers. As an interface between man and phone, the Navikey UI has never been surpassed. It truly popularised the mobile phone.

If Nokia needs reminding that it has the fight of its life on its hands, then HTC's design efforts in cloud services and its Android UI are a pretty sharp warning. For years, HTC was a contract manufacturer for other people, and its baby steps at designing Windows mobile PDAs four years ago were competent but clunky. It has learned very fast, though, and I don't think anybody is going to be patronising HTC now.

Have a look at this infomercial for Sense - which outlines some of the UI ideas for both the handset, and the cloud service. I'm sorry we can't do much about the American voiceover.

A lot of these ideas are not eye-candy - they're actually quite useful.

Now I'll bet that very little you'll see here has not, at some point, been devised and demonstrated internally at Nokia's design studios. But it highlights the real problem of bureaucracy at the company: the problem is getting good design innovations out from the labs and into shipping products.

You don't need hundreds of designers to achieve that - Apple's team is famously small, and autonomous. They don't need to hail from 35 nationalities, as Nokia's Design team does. (Do the producers of Hollywood blockbusters need to translate dialogue into 35 vernaculars? Often, they don't really need to, and good design is a lingua franca).

But the impressive collection of ideas demonstrated by HTC isn't just an acute wake-up call for Nokia. There's a warning for Apple too - and the teaming Android licensees in whom so many of you have placed your confidence. For example, have a look at HTC's implementation of "Find my phone". It is far slicker than Apple's. And for Android licensees in the increasingly me-too world of Android, the message is: "This is what you have to compete with".

It's as well that Nokia isn't in the same boat. At last with Risku's "twin CEO" strategy - outlined here with one a hands-on product development and design guy - really isn't so daft. But it's unlikely to happen. So what can Nokia Design do?

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.