Have Nokia found the winning touch?

Nokia’s problems have been very well documented with many writers believing their cause to be terminal. Certainly their strategy to put all their eggs in the Windows basket is somewhat brave to say the least. However, there are signs this past week that suggests there could maybe be life in them yet.

Operating systems aside – and it is a big bet that Windows Phone 8 can be successful without a larger list of quality apps and games – it does seem that Nokia have been really thinking about creating a simple and enjoyable consumer experience that can differentiate them from the masses of Android manufacturers.

I believe this focus on consumer experience can provide real competitive advantage in a sea of similar smartphones – and I think Nokia might just have found the right touch.

Firstly, it looks like they will be among the first with a good consumer use of NFC technology – with a simple touch their new Lumia smartphone can automatically pair and start playing music on their new wireless speakers made in partnership with JBL. Sony have also announced a similar solution with their new NFC enabled speakers but it looks like Nokia will be quicker to market and could maybe give this greater focus in their marketing.

With Apple seemingly going to change the accessory speaker market for good with their new connector this gives great opportunity for players like Nokia to accelerate the growth in wireless speakers by making their usage so simple.

Secondly, and maybe more significantly, It appears that Nokia are going to use the simplicity of touch to charge their latest smartphones. Of course this isn’t the first time this proposition has been offered with Palm Pre back in 2009 but that was a paid-for accessory whereas it appears Nokia will offer free.

Not only this but it seems that Nokia have applied a touch of colour and fun to their designs which really stand out.

I believe there is a big chunk of the market looking for the next big cool factor. Maybe the simple combination of ‘touch to play’ and ‘touch to charge’ could be enough to encourage a sizeable base of people away from another Android phone – and who knows how excited the Apple fan base will be with a slightly longer slimmer iPhone.

With a focus on bringing new technology to life in a simple, fun and colourful way I believe there really is life left in Nokia yet. How much we will have to find out.

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Tapping your customers up with NFC

As someone that likes thinking of fun ways new technology can be used to provide better customer experiences it is sometimes depressing that so much of the talk surrounding the fantastic NFC (Near Field Communication) technology that is built into my new smartphone (and will probably be in your next one too!) is based upon the notion of us using it as a mobile payment system.

I’m sure that this will definitely happen over time and will indeed offer us a simpler way for us to make many of our lower value purchases. However, given that this technology is now literally getting into many of our hands I think there is great opportunities for brands to use this to drive their own innovation and creativity with customer propositions and communication.

So it’s refreshing to see that Clinton Cards are looking to make better use of NFC to improve their customer experience and provide greater value. In doing so they will obviously help expedite use of it as convenient payment mechanism also.

My old company Sony Mobile are also looking to drive better customer experiences by providing NFC tags that allow their users to more conveniently programme their phone into customised settings – such as setting GPS, maps and voice activation simply by tapping their phone on a tag left inside the car.

So who are going to be the creative brands that really grasp this new technology and do something simple, fun and mainstream that really gets people talking about their brand in a positive way?

For instance we all know that Facebook wants to drive more ‘check-ins’ and entertainment venues/bars want to drive more customers so why doesn’t someone produce simple Facebook check-in stickers to go doors so you simply have to tap your phone as you enter to immediately activate the Facebook check-in?

We know that brands are struggling to find ways effective ways for using QR codes in advertising and other channels to drive consumer engagement. Basically QR codes are a bit ugly and it’s still not always convenient or attractive to get your phone out and take a picture of a poster. I would propose some start to shift to NFC instead which can offer a better customer experience and at least may help positioning for the brand in a better way.

Other ideas where the simple tapping of a mobile phone to a company’s marketing or actual product may make sense could include store promotions/vouchers, free content, network integration, etc.

Clearly many will want to wait for a bigger critical mass of NFC phones and others may be sceptical that this could be another passing technology that never really takes off.

But I applaud the marketer that can really show the innovation and drive to build their brand by being amongst the first to really embed NFC into their marketing and customer proposition.

At least I will have more things to tap my lovely new smartphone on! 🙂