My first Interaction with Nokia Research

The news of the Microsoft and Nokia deal has been all over since yesterday amid skepticism and perhaps even criticism. Odds seem heavily stacked against the prospect.  Nokia which had been the market leader in cellphones in India for many years, had recently been replaced by Samsung on the top spot. But inspite of that, Nokia still has one of the best brand recall in the country upto the interiors of India.

Some years back, when Nokia was still placed as the global leader in cellphone space, I had the good fortune of meeting researchers from their labs. As I was then heading the Accessories department in Delhi NIFT, my immediate thought was to get our students learning fashion accessories to be involved  a short project that NOKIA labs was then conducting in India. So while the rest of NIFT was on summer vacation, a group of our students and some faculty got the opportunity to be part of the process of understanding the Indian market as part of a larger “Future Urban Project”.

It was then we were sensitized to the various in-depth research methods that mobile phone companies employ and amazed by the future oriented outlook that NOKIA had. While Android has undoubtedly taken over due to its ease of use, the understanding that NOKIA has about local markets such as India, gained from systematically studying the ethnic intricacies and their needs is something which may give it competitive advantage in its new story, especially in the emerging markets.

Microsoft too is a household name in India, so this deal might be one to watch out for in the long run.


The wooden horse of Innovation

A mechanical toy in which the horse collapses when the lever below is pressed, and the horse bounces back when the lever is released.

Gold consumption rate of China they say is around 700 metric tonnes compared to India’s 993 metric tonnes. China is poised to overtake India in gold consumption in 2012. It’s right now at the no. 2 position.

Are we really buying less gold? I guess so. For many years we prided ourselves as the largest consumers of the yellow metal. Enter year 2000. IT brings a revolution in our world. Do women pride themselves with a yellow shining necklace around their neck? Yawn! Do men really think they can woe a woman with gold? Double yawn!! 2010: Twitter. Facebook. I pod. I pad. I phone. Even the Mac is now the digital book and not the burger! Need I say more…..? the world just changed while you were asleep, Mr Jeweller!

Are we equipped for the next phase?

Let me tell you the story of a craftsman in a province in Punjab. For many years he had made a decent living making wooden toys. His expertise was making this wooden horse which collapsed when you pressed the lever. A fun toy for kids. Probably some input he received as a new design and that sustained him well for years. He had a  1500 sq ft workshop with enough lathe machines to craft each unit of the leg. He variated. Did better legs. Changed the colours. Then one day the orders dried up. He didn’t know why. And there was no body to tell him why as well. But that just it. There were no takers for the toy. Kids were a different breed now. A simple mechanical toy would not excite them as much as a video game. As for him, his machines lay rusted.

Where did he loose out?

On innovation.

He took for granted that a certain style will continue being popular because of its past history. But what he did not foresee was the changing trends that could affect his product, business and livelihood. He failed to innovate.

What is innovation?

Well, that’s another story for next time!


( This is a true story. He gifted the toy to my daughter few years back. She took it reluctantly in politeness, but has never played with it.)