Life With Derrek: Memoirs of a Long-Time Nokia Fan #RIPNokia
The date was Monday, September 2nd, 2013. I had just woken up and checked my Twitter account to see what I missed throughout the night. I quickly glanced at a tweet by a friend and had to double-back… “What? Are you serious?” I thought to myself. The tweet made mention to Nokia being sold to Microsoft, something that I was used to hearing for the past year or so amid speculation that Microsoft would eventually envelop the company. At this point, I was used to hearing theories and rumors and usually pushed them aside, but something about this tweet just seemed too… authentic. I frantically performed a quick Bing search and sure enough, there it was: ‘Microsoft to acquire Nokia Devices and Services.’ My jaw dropped. The world seemed to have stopped, not just for me but for many people who remained faithful to Nokia over the years. I was stunned, absolutely speechless as a million different things started racing through my mind. “What does this mean? What does this mean!? WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!?” Those kinds of questions would remain in my head for the next 6 months.
Let’s go back all the way to 2002. I was 10 years old and I was playing with my sister’s cell phone. Quite a bulky thing it was, but it was the most amazing piece of technology to me. I would spend countless hours on her Nokia 3310, playing games like Snake and Space Impact. It was also my first experience texting on a phone, to which I immediately grew accustomed to and quickly started texting faster than my 16 year old sibling. It wasn’t until a year later that I would receive my very first cell phone, and unfortunately it was a Kyocera which left a bad taste in my mouth, even just by saying the name (Kee-oh-ser-ah? Kai-oh-ser-ah?). I dropped that phone with the quickness and ended up with my first flip phone from Siemens (and I thought my previous phone had a weird name?). It was nice and all, but still left me wanting more. The following year I then received my very first Nokia mobile phone; the Nokia 6102. I was absolutely in love with this device! The interface was clean, the ringtones sounded cool, and the VGA camera/video recorder that came with it blew me away with! It was also great for selfies, with the 96 x 65 pixel external display, and there was even infrared for sharing data, and an FM Radio! I went to town with that phone and put it through hell, too! I lost the antenna piece, snapped the phone nearly in half, and even put it (accidentally) through an entire wash cycle! It still worked perfectly fine! I was convinced that my phone could not be beat!
During this time with the 6102, I became increasingly interested in finding out what else Nokia had to offer. One of the first things I would do whenever I got onto a computer was to straight to Nokia’s website to look at their cool devices. Back then, the site was much more interactive, and I could swivel around virtual devices and navigate through moving menus and whatnot. It was here where I became aware of the N-Series phones, and more specifically the Nokia N90 (above). I would dream about how cool my life would be if I had this awesome camcorder-like cell phone! And that 2MP Carl Zeiss swivel camera was just begging for me to have it! Unfortunately the closest I would get to it was at the Nokia Experience Center at one of my local malls. It was essentially a giant kiosk that housed all, if not many, of Nokia’s devices. I would literally go to the mall just so I could spend time there, playing with the phones and oogling the different (albeit odd) form factors. I even got to play with Nokia’s 770 internet tablet, and the N93i which was featured in the first Transformers movie. The NEC was my home away from home… that is, until it disappeared all of a sudden. I was absolutely livid, as I arrived at the mall and saw that it was gone. Let’s just say my trips to the mall were few and far between after that point.
But despite my loss, I would still find myself constantly on Nokia’s website to check out their latest and greatest. By this time I was cycling through a Nokia 6155i (probably the last Nokia to show up on Sprint’s network) and a Samsung phone, having already transitioned to my fourth US mobile carrier in 4 years. And to make up for the loss of the NEC, I would travel to different carrier stores to play with the Nokia phones (N70 at AT&T, 6310 at T-Mobile, N96 at Best Buy, etc.) and by this time I was already fairly good with pointing out Nokia devices that I spotted in the wild and naming them by model number. I was becoming obsessed.
Fast forward several years and I cycled through the Nuron, N8, Lumia 710, Lumia 810, and now the Lumia 925. During this time I finished high school and went off to the University of California, Santa Cruz where I originally indented to study Film & Digital Media. After my first year, I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to do and was virtually at a standstill trying to figure out what major to pursue. And one day it hit me: I have had a fanboy-ish like obsession with Nokia for nearly half my life… why not actually pursue this love of mobile technology that I’ve grown over the years? From there I decided that I would study Technology & Information Management, which was the perfect balance of business and technology. And after years of personally marketing Nokia to all my friends and family (and even random strangers on the street), I knew that marketing would be my true calling in life.
But now I, along with many others, face a dilemma. Nokia, the company we’ve looked to for style and innovation, is letting go of its mobile phone division which has been around since before I was born. I grew up with these phones, and more importantly, I grew up in a world where Nokia had major stake in the birth and growth of the mobile phone industry. To see this era come to an end is surely heartbreaking. I know it’s not the company’s first major shakeup, having grown from a wood pulp mill in 1865 to a rubber business, to a major conglomerate of consumer electronics and products, to the Nokia we all know and love today. But now that the acquisition of their mobile phone business is completed, I can’t help asking the same question that popped into my head 6 month ago: “What now?”
Sure we know the answer to that question. Microsoft will rename Nokia Oyj to Microsoft Mobile Oy, and Nokia will now follow a new strategy focusing on their long-time efforts it Network Infrastructure, Mapping, and Advance Technologies… but there’s still so many questions I have, and so many different ways I see this playing out. Will Nokia eventually start producing phones again? Will the HERE mapping business actually succeed? How does NSN plan on catching a break in the US market? What is Nokia actually going to do with the Advance Technology division? Will Microsoft continue Nokia’s awesome design language and style? Will the Lumia name live on in future devices? So many questions, all of which will hopefully be answered soon.
But despite my sorrows, I have faith in both companies that this will work out for the best. With Nokia now receiving billions of dollars from Microsoft, they now have financial security to invest heavily into their new strategy, hopefully making it a successful one. And Microsoft now has Nokia’s technological prowess in mobile to boost the growth of Windows Phone to a potentially worthy 3rd opponent against Android and iOS.
As for me, I will continue to pursue my dream of one day working for Nokia…