status A short intermediate post to conclude this topic. In August 2009, I wrote a post, How PLM is NOKIA, where I expressed my astonishment that a company as big and as professional as NOKIA did not react on launching problems of the new NOKIA N97. As I knew NOKIA as a company, which has implemented the basics of PLM, I would anticipate more customer centric activities.

Apparently, and now we are four months later, it is clear that NOKIA brought a product on the market too early with several design errors. Probably to be competitive with the iPhone, it was launched too early to maintain market share.

All early purchasers of the N97 were promised that in October 2009, the major software fix would come and then the N97 would be working as promised. As an early adopter, you feel swindled as the statement is more or less telling you: “We released a beta product – you paid the premium price –  and in October the official release will be available”

So in November 2009, the software fix came (V 2.0) and after installing this new version, minor problems were solved, still the GPS was malfunctioning and also the camera lens could be scratched by the cover. Instead of making a firm and honest statement to its customers, NOKIA decided to keep things silent. On their support forum there was a discussion around the malfunctioning GPS. At the end, before it was removed by NOKIA,  it was almost 30 pages long full of posts.

It started with loyal users, who thought that they had done something wrong, guessing and helping others trying to optimize the GPS reception. No contribution from NOKIA people in that forum. Later (page 25 and later), the posts became more and more angry, as these people, who were trying to make it work, were sent from repair centre to repair centre without getting a fix. Many were trying to get a statement from NOKIA support people.  

At the end, NOKIA removed the forum to hide all these issues to new potential customers. Now, if you search again for NOKIA N97 and GPS issue, you find a few pages of new people trying to make it work.

Anyway, two weeks ago I received my ‘repaired’ N97 and still the GPS failed despite the NOKIA claimed to have replaced some components. My telephone network provider, who sold the N97 together in a bundle, now proposed to replace the NOKIA N97 with a similar phone from another brand, which I will do.

Back to PLM, what is the relation with this post ?

cust_centric PLM allows you to become more customer focused, using field experience as feedback and input for your new models. Also virtual testing – not sure if GPS reception can be virtually tested – can save huge costs due to product recalls and repairs. This is the situation NOKIA is suffering now around the N97. And as they do not publicly communicate that there are errors, it might reduce the amount of claims they get from all N97 buyers as not everyone uses all features. Soon a new model will come up and everyone forgot the stinker with the N97. People inexperienced with GPS might think the behavior they experience with the N97 is normal finding only a few pages of other people with problems instead of 30+ pages.

The back side of this approach for NOKIA is that modern, loyal customers are expecting a customer centric company and they will move to another brand, only to come back when this competitor fails. It is worth to lose loyal customers to avoid claims ?

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For me the NOKIA book is closed, now I will move to Sony Ericsson , thanks to my mobile phone provider. And as I learned on the recent ECF (European Customer Forum) last month in Paris, Sony Ericsson is using PLM for their global design and production process, striving to a single version of the truth. So also Sony Ericsson is connecting people and I hope they have a better connection with their customers as people are allowed to make mistakes but hiding them is the biggest mistake.

Just closing with a funny movie. This NOKIA marketing movie shows a guy with a N97 easily finds his friend through GPS. For sure it works in the dessert where you can see each other for miles – but in a dense city, you have to realize your friend can be 200 meters on either side from you, although you think you are in the same location.

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