December 12, 2007 / by James Whatley">James Whatley / Mobile, Nokia, Whatley Wednesday / No Comments

MIR: Taking a firm hand with firmware

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FW: Whatley on Wednesday - 12/12/07

Two weeks ago, after writing my review/rant about the N81 8GB, Stefan Constantinescu (of IntoMobile fame) left a comment:

‘With the new N95 firmware out that breathes new life into the device I too can’t understand why anyone would want the N81.’

Fantastic point Stefan, the new N95 firmware does INDEED breathe new life into the N95 and anyone that comes anywhere near me with their pre-V20 firmware will get it upgraded in a flash.

What a great move by Nokia. That is, of course, if Nokia actually bothered to TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT!

Yeah yeah yeah, so Nokia told a few bloggers and released a techie press release (maybe). But fundamentally – WHO is actually going to benefit?

Ok – so as an old friend used to say – let’s do a quick fag-packet analysis:

I reckon, best guess, maybe 5% (and that’s being EXTREMELY generous) of all N95 owners are aware that they can update the firmware (or ‘software’ as a normob may refer to it as) on their handset maybe?

Of that 5%, how many actually are going to know/check that there is a new firmware available.

You could probably argue yourself up to quite a high figure, what with the ‘firmware aware’ having a higher propensity to be techies/mobile geeks. But still.

Of THAT percentage, how many N95ers are going to risk upgrading their firmware, having had their fingers burnt in the past trying to upgrade a previous handset?

Or, what about those of us who have no intention of going anywhere near the Nokia Software Updater (NSU) after having heard such horror stories about bricked handsets and nudged USB cables?

Right – ok – how many hands are left up? Not many.

And even you brave few who are left standing still aren’t guaranteed a new piece of firmware because guess what?! Computer says no.

(Or in this case: Your Operator/Carrier – see some of the comments from last week’s article as a case in point).

Moving on from this – let’s take a look at the iPhone model.

The sync cradle becomes (as I heard recently) the centre of gravity for the user. They charge it, sync it and, above all, update it from one place.

The user is told, at point of sale, plug this into your PC/Mac and register online. That is the first thing the user does and immediately the user-behaviour has changed. Or has it?

How many iPhone users out there own (or have owned) an iPod? A fair few? Ok so how many of those users already associate having an Apple product that must be plugged/synced up to their Mac to optimise usage? Again – I’d bet a reasonable amount.

Apple have been very clever in a) Tapping into that pre-defined user behaviour and b) Educating the new user on how to get the most from their iPhone.

Nokia, to me at least, have a lot of catching up to do in this department. My N95 is a phone that happens to play music. The iPhone is sold as an iPod that happens to make calls.

This one simple, strategic change has resulted in a paradigm shift in how the end user benefits from updates back at base.

To put it simply: Push instead of pull.

When updating the firmware on a handset, Apple have it nailed.

Nokia we love you but, to reach the masses, you have a lot of catching up to do.

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