AUSTIN, TX, USA – “Nokia deserves some extra credit for being extra cool”. That’s what IntoMobile.com‘s Marin Perez had to say following a visit to the Nokia Lab at SXSW 2012. The multi-dome structure housing a little bit of Finland and Nokia’s R&D lab in downtown Austin is nothing if not impressive. Marin’s view was pretty universally shared by those who spent time at the Nokia Lab following its opening on Saturday. For four hours hundreds walked through the Lab doors to experience the demos, music, refreshments and get hands on with the new Nokia Lumia 900.
In the staff briefing prior to the opening, Nokia’s US marketing chief Valerie Buckingham rallied the troops whilst reminding everyone just why Nokia is present at SXSW. “We’re opening the laboratory kimono” was Valerie’s description of bringing a little part of Nokia’s R&D lab to Austin. But pitching a tent and filling it with cool demos is just the physical manifestation of Nokia’s presence at SXSW.
More than anything, this is a celebration. It’s a celebration of a pretty powerful turnaround, in a relatively short space of time. It’s a celebration coming on the back of two amazingly successful product unveilings for Nokia (Nokia Lumia 900 best in show at CES and Nokia 808 Pureview award winner at Mobile World Congress). It’s a celebration of the fact that Nokia is very much back.
The atmosphere in the Nokia Lab is a direct reflection of what’s been felt inside, and outside the company right now. A new dawn of excitement and enthusiasm has very much broken cover. The Nokia Lab brings a ton of cool to SXSW but it’s really, just like the Nokia Lumia 900 and Nokia 808 Pureview, a statement of intent. This is the new baseline. From here, everything just gets better.
On my way to Austin I flew from Heathrow with British Airways. Back at Nokia World in October, when the Nokia Lumia 800 was unveiled, we were shown the British Airways app for Windows. This was my first opportunity to try a mobile boarding pass (I had a paper one as a backup) and it worked a treat. Setting aside the mini-thrill of using a mobile boarding pass for the first time, it was the security guard’s reaction when I handed him the phone that struck a chord. “What’s that?” The new Nokia Lumia 800 came my reply. “Wow. That’s nice. I’ve always loved Nokia phones”.
Why does any of this matter? For me it’s a sense of pride. Being attached to and involved in something which is positive. Which is changing rapidly. Which is offering genuine innovation. Creating products which one person described to me yesterday as boasting better industrial design than that phone which has become the bastion of industrial design.
Whilst this post might have more than a little dose of self indulgence about it, I’m not ashamed. Why can’t we celebrate all that’s good right now? Like the security guard said, I’ve always loved Nokia. And after last night’s party at Nokia Lab, I’ve got the hangover to prove it.