Remember who said, 'Great artists steal'?


Here's a hint... that quote wasn't from anyone at Nokia. Though John Gruber seems to have overlooked that bit in his offhand slam about Nokia's iPhone-style UI on their next phone ("Innovative industrial design from Nokia"). But as I'm sure that he's not the only Apple zealot feeling that way I figured I'd take a few seconds and address the topic here.

In short: Nokia did the right thing.

If you were an exec at Nokia, what would you do? There's no denying that Apple has come up with some cool innovations for the iPhone and - more importantly - generated a lot of buzz around them. As a competitor and leader in the mobile phone market, you are going to need to figure out how to respond to it. What would you want them to do?

If you ignore the iPhone, then you're sticking your head in the sand and just leaving the market for Apple to take. This is what all the MP3 player makers did when the iPod came out, and it's obviously not the road to take. If you try to mimic the iPhone, then you're accused of copying it, or as Gruber insinuated, not being innovative. Okay, fine, but how do you respond to that sort of criticism? You can pretend that Apple's new product has had no influence on you, or you can respond by saying that you're simply competing, and copying good ideas where they come up. Nokia basically took the best option presented to them and came out with it. Kudos for them.

As for "Innovative industrial design" the key word there is "industrial" and thus implying the innovation and quality of the hardware as well as the software. I would argue that the device with the 5 megapixel camera and real optical zoom (with the ability to record video), integrated GPS, WiFi (including VoIP), advanced HSDPA 3G, standard USB and non-crippled Bluetooth contained in an attractive, yet recognizable mobile phone (that is actually 5 grams lighter than the iPhone) would win out here against a device using standard technologies that were new a couple years ago, yet has a gimmicky (and locked down) new OS to market. Not only that, but Nokia knows how to make and ship millions of these bad boys around the world every quarter. When it comes to INDUSTRIAL innovation, Nokia is leading the way hands down.

Actually, let me say this definitively: Not only does Nokia have the more advanced device now, but it will take Apple several *years* to come up with a competing product that has anywhere near these level of features. Apple just doesn't have the mobile hardware chops to do it themselves. Until you easily can get things like GPS, 5 megapixel sensors and HSDPA 3G on the commodity market, Apple won't be launching a device with those features. They don't have the experience, know how or partnerships to get it done and still be profitable.

Despite all this, I obviously still think Apple is doing great things with the iPhone and will continue to push its competitors to respond to their products. The zealots just need to realize that unlike other markets Apple has gone into, the competitors in the mobile phone market *will* respond, and quickly.


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