Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) new smartphone design chief criticized Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) approach to smartphones, and said he hopes Nokia will slim down the number of phone models it produces to focus on design and quality.
Peter Skillman, who was the chief designer of the Palm Pre, left Palm this summer after it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $1.2 billion. He is now the head of user experiences and services for MeeGo, Nokia's high-end device platform, which the company developed with Intel. Speaking to the Campbell, Calif.-based design firm Zurb, in what became a podcast, Skillman said that Apple's approach to the user experience is flawed because it forces users to hit the home screen before using a new application.
"If a user wants to walk from the kitchen to the dining room in her house, she simply walks through," Skillman said. "It does not work like that in mobile--you have to go through the front door to get to the kitchen. iPhone has a home button which works like a go-back-to-front-door button. This is not a model that human beings are used to. People are spatial."
He also criticized companies that have put UI skins on top of Google's Android platform--which includes HTC and Sony Ericsson. Skillman said there is "too much junk" on top of platforms, singling out Motorola's MotoBLUR user interface.
Skillman said he is still proud of what the Pre represented, and praised the Synergy function of webOS. However, he also noted that the Pre and the Pixi had shortcomings, including "performance" issues with the devices' WebKit browser and their notification functions.
Now ensconced at Nokia, Skillman--who said he spent nine days interviewing for the job at the Finnish firm--said he hopes to re-instill some passion about executing at Nokia. He also said handset companies tend to over-segment the consumer market and produce too many models, which he called a "distraction," adding, "I hope that Nokia might focus on a smaller range of really great products."
If his challenge at Nokia--to get the company to better compete in the high end of the market--was not clear enough, Skillman made a definitive statement on the topic. "If you're not succeeding at the high end, then you're absolutely doomed to failure."
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