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Open Letter to Nokia Windows Phone Design Team

Dear Nokia Design Team,

At Nokia World 2011, two great phones for Nokia as a company were released. Some may criticize you for not bringing anything new to the table when compared to your competitor’s offerings on the Windows Phone platform, but I for one understand that you’ve been working mostly to fine tune hardware compatibility with Microsoft’s platform. In addition, reusing previous designs, is both efficient and practical for a company that, let’s be honest, is trying to stop losing money as opposed to making more of it. This is not meant to be a criticism or an insult, but an acknowledgement of your current predicament. I personally find that reusing an old but nonetheless good design, especially that of the N9 was a brilliant business decision.

While I cannot wait for your first truly Metro-inspired designs to come to fruition, I write this letter to implore you to, at least for now, continue that fine sound business strategy of modifying another previous design for compliance with Windows Phone, the Nokia E7. I think the E7 is easily my favorite design so far from any manufacturer. The only thing holding me back from buying one is the fact that it’s still running Symbian and I’ve had a terrible time with Symbian on my N97. But lets not dwell on the past, and look to the future instead. If you could bring the Windows Phone OS onto the E7, I think you will have yourself a killer device, especially for an early 2012 US launch. There are currently only 3 Windows Phone devices I know of that have a physical QWERTY keyboard. All 3 of them have sold poorly, either due to horrible design cues (LG C900), being locked to a small network like Sprint with almost no retail support from stores (the HTC Arrive), and horrible firmware/quality control issues (the Dell Venue Pro). If you can make a splash with a high-quality slider, in addition to a good low/mid-range device like the 710 you will have an instant hit with American Windows Phone users.

The Lumia 800 is a nice phone, and I think it looks great. It looks like it’s positioned to sell well throughout Europe. But you at Nokia know all too well that what sells in Europe isn’t necessarily what sell’s over here in the US. US critics seem to be the most critical of the Lumia series and what they see to be a lackluster revival of your smartphone portfolio. Americans prefer metal over plastic, even really high quality plastics like those used in the N9/800. We’re a stubborn bunch, and even if you tell us it’s more durable we will still choose the shiny one over the plastic one. The E7 has this covered, The 8MP camera with dual-LED flash makes it essentially the same specs as the Lumia 800. But do us all a favor and leave the beautiful 4” AMOLED ClearBlack display on the E7 untouched. Instead cut out 2 additional buttons to flank the single button on the E7 and give us high-end owners some premium tactile buttons. I absolutely HATE the capacitive touch buttons on my Dell Venue Pro. I accidently press them at all the wrong times and it’s frustratingly annoying. Almost considered importing the 710 just because of the physical buttons had it not been for the standard LCD and minimal local storage space. Finally give us 32GB of internal storage space, and I’m not including SkyDrive…that cannot replace real physical memory (thanks for the reminder Jim, completely forgot how many people want this). Without the ability to add microSD cards like on Symbian and Android devices, users of Windows Phone look very closely at storage space. With most current models only supporting 8GB or 16GB, a 32GB device from Nokia would easily mark it as a high-end device. Some would ask for a 64GB model, and I would love that if it were an option as well, but I don’t recommend only shipping a 64GB model. Simply because it will increase your price point, and that could drive away customers. 32GB is bigger than anyone else without going too overboard with cost.

In summary, do to the E7 what you did to the N9 and the 603 and you will have a major hit in the US. A high-end device that offers not one, but three key features that no one else has: a premium QWERTY keyboard, an 8MP Carl-Zeiss Camera, and 32GB of built-in storage space. Combine that with the dazzling display that is the 4” ClearBlack screen, and you will be hard pressed to find anyone choosing another phone over this one save for price point. But that’s what the 710 is for!

Your Proud and Ever Optimistic Supporter,

Danny Lam