Category Archives: New Products

The Empire strikes Back:
NOKIA’s Return To Your Pocket And The Magic Of Context

Sometimes you just don’t see it coming…. We all remember the times, not too long ago, when Nokia were selling basically the same Series 60 models of their phones for years by essentially just changing their outer design – along with the pricetag.
 
And despite a couple of surprising successes like with their N770 PDA tablet (which, at the time, we also used to showcase the early SemaWorx prototypes) there obviously has not been a lot of initiative inside the company to more dedicatedly pushing the technological borders in direction of widening the market for cellphone usage.
 
After all, one could still make a good living from the existing models’ diversification and even afford to send away Apple back in the days when the late Steve Jobs approached them in order to speed up the initial iPhone product development.
 

Though the times, they’re changin’: With Apple’s stock price ranging as high as it may ever get, but their once-superior phone engineering at the same time showing inceasingly more weeknesses in both concept and execution, this is the dawn for their competitors again. And since it can be quite hard to impossible sometimes, to beat huge corporations such as Apple in the business they themselves created, the guys at Nokia did wisely, to leave to others what others can do better.
 
In the past, Nokia’s own developments haven’t ever really been up equally with their counterpart’s products in terms of UI and OS engineering, which in recent years more often than not resulted in quite limited software capabilities even on the newer Nokia handsets. In following this inevitably lead to a shrinking community of application developers willing to take the hassle to write software for e.g. the Symbian or maemo.org platforms.
 

With the introduction of their new LUMIA smartphone series however, the NOKIA management left building the smartphone OS to Microsoft and their Windows 8 product. This did not only bring a new, sophisticated though proven, system base to their latest generation of completely re-engineered phones without causing too much hassle on the run, but brought in a huge crowd of new application developers as well, who already had long-yeared experience in programming for the Microsoft platform.
 

The other strength which NOKIA has just turned into a USP again, is their experience in engineering high-standard cellphones. And even though the current models’ hardware may not always be able to keep up with the installed Windows operating system’s hunger for computational power yet, they focus on the customers’ outcomes by providing them a high level of tools to ease a phone user’s life. And no, I don’t think so much of the literal ˮbells & whistles“ here, but more of features like
 

  • Mutiband Phone Networks (including LTE broadband) Where competitors stick to supporting only certain partner-vendors’ networks, Nokia Lumia customers always get the full spectrum.
     
  • High Quality Multi-Brand Location Services With the strategic purchases of NAVTEQ and earthmine, Nokia product designers get their hands on powerful features like sight-based navigation, making up for a nicely designed AR display of your environment, accompanied by corresponing quality guides: Besides the omnipresent crowd-sourced content, Nokia services provide a wide range of professionally authored information from providers like Michelin, HRS or Expedia.
     
  • Realtime Public Transport Information The one-of-a-kind just-on-time routing for those of us travelling by foot and public transport.
     
  • Phone Calls Almost forgot about it: No, they haven’t forgotten about building reliable voice calling into the latest generation phones. No antenna-issues involved here…
     
  • Above Standards Camera With photo shooting among the most popular phone features in recent years, Lumia devices come with ZEISS lenses, optical image stabilization, sequence-shots and HDR-like processing tools.
     

In my oppinion, these new approaches will, in the longer run, put NOKIA at the heart of an eco-system fucussing much less on what is possible, than on services users actually need to navigate through life on a daily basis.
 

OUTSIDE INnovation by Patty Seybold

Admittedly, I’m late. Patricia “Patty” B. Seybold’s work OUTSIDE INnovation already came out more than two years ago. And even though I started reading (or better: ‘devouring’) the first chapters immediately after it hit the bookstores in October 2006, the changes in my life, business and the moving left me up with always delaying OUTSIDE INNOVATION book cover this post until now. So what can I say after having lots of time to think through its ideas and concepts ?  Well, she got even better. 🙂  The new book is even more fun to read than the earlier ones. Also the new structure with bite-sized information chunks is very pleasing if you don’t have a lot of time to read chapters in one piece. Though, now you have to pay attention in order to keep up with the thoughtfully chosen information structure, if you want to get all of the causal connections right.

However (again) Patty has done a terrific job assembling the case studies of quite renowned firms from Europe and the US.

Right a the beginning the reader gets an introduction into which changes have occured to corporate innovation efforts and where the author sees her customer-focussed approach to foster and collect innovative concepts right from a company’s customers related to the traditional ivory tower paradigm of traditional corporated R&D labs (“if we build it they will come”).
 

As these are:

  • finding lead users in your respective industry, giving them the tools to customize your products and then, in return, letting their inventions influence your product development
  • engaging with the most visionary customers to co-design new products, services and processes
  • enabling customers to help one other, share new concepts and build on top of each others ideas

 
Currently working for a personalized goods company myself, I’d personally recommend this read to any product manager, CEO and all controllers still thinking, continuously throwing out new cheap “quick & dirty” products was be the most effective way to e-commerce.

Luigi Colani’s ANYFIX Mobile Phone Loading Base

 
ANYFIX Original Signed Product Photo CardHave you experienced this either ?  Somewhere on a trip you realize you forgot your cellphone’s power adaptor at home or the last hotel you visited and you’ve just run out of power.
   Of course a colleague will be happy to lend you his own one — though this unfortunately does not fit your phone’s power jack or the local power supply.
 
Most likely Luigi Colani experienced this himself before he designed the "Anyfix" universal loading base for mobiles, which he introduced at this year’s CeBIT.
   As I luckily had the chance to see the master himself present it the day I went to Hanover, I did not just get this autographed card, but even you can re-watch his presentation on video.
 
The adaptor itself is just one surprisingly robust unit (no annoying cables involved), fits a large variety of contemporary phones and power outlets and is proclaimed to hit the shops later this summer.
 
Anyfix technical details
 
Continue reading Luigi Colani’s ANYFIX Mobile Phone Loading Base

Apple’s iPhone: A Really Revolutionary Interface. But wait — haven’t I seen this thing before !?

Hi, and a really great new year to all of you. When I watched Steve Jobs’ keynote (QuickTime required) opening Macworld this week and he showed the ‘brandnew’ multi-touch display of their new iPhone, I immediately remembered: I had seen this before. So please enjoy watching Jeff Han presenting his invention.

SemaWorx Prototype Ready – Official Press Release (in German)

 
We made it !
 
N770 & SemaBeacon — showing the prototypeYes, I know it’s sheerly unbelievable, but we finally got a working prototype of SemaWorx Soft- & Hardware. I’m really amazed by this, since it has been a *very* long going process since the first concepts almost two years ago.
   On the photograph you can see me holding our Bluetooth Beacon in the left hand (we built it into a paving stone, milled from a piece of Styrodur, to demonstrate the versatility 😉 ) and showing the “beamed” user-interface on my N770 above.
   This also showcases the realtime handling of various semantic XML data sources.
 
Please see the details for press releases and photographs.
 

Continue reading SemaWorx Prototype Ready – Official Press Release (in German)