Previously, I discussed that Nokia risks joining the infamous club of irrelevant companies such as Kodak, and Olivetti. I argued also, that Nokia can create something awesome, and I was confident that they will thrive. I walked the talk, and I bought a Nokia Lumia 800. Unfortunately, my Lumia is not very mobile.
Here, the case: I bought my mobile smartphone from a Finnish operator (Sonera); I used a Finnish credit card (Nordea); and also a device from a Finnish manufacturer (Nokia). Even Hercule Poirot would have deduced, maybe, that I intended to access Finnish applications. Not Lumia; is too smart for that. The phone knew that I am from Mexico, and restricted access to Mexican applications only. Which is not very useful since I live in Finland now. I could not even access the applications of my mobile operator.
I was puzzled. How on earth do the phone knows that i am from Mexico? Since i am a researcher, and a little bit of a detective, I spent most of the day trying to figure out how to tell the phone, that I am in Finland. What I discovered, however, is something disturbing: the mobile is not designed to be mobile!
In more detail, Nokia Lumia uses Windows mobile (mango) as the platform. Windows uses as an anchor a windows live account. Windows live means that applications such as hotmail, skydrive and xbox are all linked to a single profile. Fair enough, when I opened my hotmail account some years ago, I was, indeed, in Mexico. In other words, the phone thinks that I am in Mexico, because my Hotmail says so. Easy then, just change your region from the windows mobile account. Not so easy, and here is the problem: Applications are managed by another company called ZUNE. They have something called ZUNE marketplace.
Zune marketplace, in its infinite US-centrism, uses the original region where you opened your windows live account (or xbox account to be more precise). Once this is defined, you cannot change your region by any means. This means that your mobile is geographically bound, therefore not mobile at all! What happens if you relocate to another country? well, bad luck. What happens if you travel in another country for an extended period? well, bad luck. All your applications are locked to the original region.
If you want to change regions badly, all you need to do is: reset your phone. This in practice means: loose all apps and content, and then, create a new windows live account, and link all your social media to that new account. In other words, loose all the content which you paid for. When i contacted ZUNE, this is their answer (slightly edited for readability):
ZUNE: I understand you would like to change location on your zune account, correct?
ZUNE: Unfortunately there is no way to change location in the zune account. Im sorry for that. What I can suggest is that you should create a new windows live id to attach to the new zune account
Me: what is the reason for not changing the location? or at least what is the official reason by Zune?
ZUNE: As far as I am aware of it is due to a billing issue. The xbox live billing account is linked to your windows live id and due to different tax systems all over the world a change of the billing country could cause some serious damage to the billing account.
I understand that ZUNE is not Nokia. However, the only major argument for Nokia’s changing from Symbian to Windows mobile, was, precisely, access to applications. I find disturbing that Nokia did not place closer attention to the platform for applications when they ventured with Microsoft. Nokia makes beautiful devices, but if you cannot access applications, then, smartphones are just expensive land-lines.
If my smartphone does not work as promised, I do not blame Zune, I blame Nokia. This is because I do not know, and should not know, who manages which components. ZUNE is just an external source for a critical component, in this case applications. Nokia, on the other hand, ultimately promises something which is not delivered. And it is not delivered because of a billing decision (i.e. invoices). I mean, my mobile is not mobile because ZUNE cannot send invoices.
If Nokia was not aware that they are not making mobile devices anymore, Nokia has a time-bomb in their hands. As soon as people begin to go mobile with their mobiles phones, which oddly enough is what people with mobile phones do, they will find that their mobile is geographically bound, and therefore, not-mobile. Who are they going to blame? Nokia.