Nokia & Microsoft’s real challenge

Lumia feature

You might have heard – Nokia showed off a handful of new phones that are designed by Nokia and are powered by the new Microsoft mobile (Windows Phone 7.5 Mango) operating system. The phones, as expected, from Nokia are stunningly beautiful. Nokia has a long history of making well engineered devices that have solid design. But it’s at the software-based user experience layer where Nokia starts to sputter.

Nothing has really changed with the new devices – Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. These devices are based on Microsoft’s new OS platform that uses a new user interface/interaction methodology. Microsoft’s OS uses a concept of “tiles” and infinite scrolling to give us access to the services we like to use. In a perfect world, it’s an impressive new way of accessing information. However, it will be an uphill battle for the two companies to get traction with their combination.

Why? Because we are living in a post iPhone and post-Android OS world and as consumers we have become used to interacting with mobile devices in a specific manner. During the desktop computing era¬† — regardless of the flavor you preferred (Windows or MacOS) — we all got used to GUI-keyboard-and-mouse based interactions with computers and more importantly, with information. Software was written to leverage this interaction method.

In the mobile world – whether you use iOS based devices or Android – a new interaction has already been adopted by software writers and consumers. The interaction involves a combination of touch, gestures and apps. Introduction of Siri is another new way of interacting with information but Apple has been very careful in presenting it as an app instead of a radical new interface.

Microsoft and Nokia want us to learn a brand new interaction on their devices but I find it hard to imagine that consumers at large will try and learn yet another interface. I think from my perspective, that is the real challenge for Nokia and Microsoft.

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