Core values: In memoriam

By | May 13, 2010

Yesterday, via Twitter, I came across this interview on Engadget where Nokia’s new head of Design talked to journalists about the mobile company’s future plans. Regular readers know I have not only tracked Nokia since 2006 but held it in high esteem as a company that has, until now, done well in emerging markets. This was the company that exemplified the core values of the emerging market customer – that demanding one at the ‘base of the pyramid’ – simple, easy, endurance, survival and commitment.  You could drop one of their phones in the swimming pool and it continued to work (as a flooring specialist from a township in South Africa once told us as he held his Nokia close, joy lighting up his face) or run a truck over it (as Indian TV commercials inspired many to do as a test of “proof of performance”).  This was a company that believed implicitly in sustainable solutions and upheld the eco-design principles so espoused in Northern Europe.

When did you wander off your path and fall into the abyss? Wither your core values that made you who you are and touched the hearts and changed the lives of billions of people?

Here’s the snippet that wrung my heart, as I mourned the demise of a formerly inspirational giant:

We had to also poke and prod on a couple of pet peeves of our own, starting with the integrated battery in the N8. If you’re going to take cues from the iPhone, that’s really not the one we’d advocate following, but Marko was categorical that the overall design concept took precedence in that case. He seemed to imply that the N8 just wouldn’t have been as good, structurally and aesthetically, if it had to have a door for battery access.

Cliches spring immediately to mind – “style over substance” was never a glorified part of the engineering culture… so, it makes me wonder, why not simply put the gun in your mouth as you pull the trigger? It will hurt less that way.

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