Sunday, November 13, 2011


Sebastian by brondmo
Sebastian, a photo by brondmo on Flickr.

Question everything...

Dieter Rams by brondmo
Dieter Rams, a photo by brondmo on Flickr.

Nokia Pulse is live

Nokia Pulse is a new way to check in with the people you care about the most - close friends and family. There are no public options. It's just for the people you choose to connect with in groups that you or others set up.

This is the follow-on to Plum... yet so much better and cooler. Try it out.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I’m Rooting for Nokia. And Why You Should Too.

Last week was a big week for Nokia. One year after Stephen Elop joined as CEO in a definitive turn around situation, and after burning platforms and painful restructurings, Nokia made it clear that – to paraphrase Monty Python – “it’s not dead yet”.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop giving pep talk to senior execs before Nokia World last week in UK

The press and blogosphere echoed big announcements at Nokia World in London where the company introduced a family of hot new phones for the developing world and two very sleek new smartphones running the Microsoft WindowsPhone operating system. The energy was good and the reception decidedly positive.

And for those who cared to take a closer look there were a number of smaller, exciting announcements too. Ranging from very cool WebGL powered 3D maps, to a really innovative public transport app, a free turn-by-turn navigation app on Nokia WPs, an augmented reality application leveraging the Nokia location platform and Nokia Pulse, a whole new way to think about checking in and small group communication as one and the same. A lot of innovation and a focus on delivering real value to the only persons who matter: you, the customers.

The naysayers who have written Nokia off for dead may want to reconsider.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a neutral party in this matter. Nokia pays my salary and benefits. I have many great Nokia colleagues that I plan to continue working with. I grew up in Norway and have an emotional attachment to the brand and personal desire to see a company founded and headquartered in Finland continue to be a dominant player in the mobile space.

Yet, my case is not primarily based on self-interest. It’s based on your interest.

If you believe as I do that healthy competition ultimately benefits customers and that innovation is best fueled by people from different cultures and with different perspectives and ideas collaborating and competing across the globe. Well, then you’ll want Nokia to be successful in its quest to become the mobile comeback kid. Apple and Google are great companies that have built good products. Yet there is so much more innovation and value still to be unlocked and it will take more than just a couple of Silicon Valley behemoths to keep the mobile party fun.

Two years ago the company I co-founded, Plum, was acquired by Nokia. The last two years have not always been easy. I admit that on more than one occasion I looked in the mirror and asked myself why in the world I was working so hard for a company that most people in Silicon Valley, where I live, had written off as a dinosaur on a death march towards extinction. And to be clear, a lot in the company was screwed up. Our lack of a modern software / OS platform, our lack of a proper cloud infrastructure, and our organizational complexity to name a few. Our problems were slowing us down and creating an environment of enormous friction and inefficiency at best, apathy at worst.

BUT, and there is a big but in this story, things have changed. When I joined, almost everyone I spoke to knew that change was needed. Still, change is hard. Change is painful. Change is complicated. Yet, change is what has happened. Every day I’ve seen change and with every day the rate of change accelerates.

Is Nokia out of the woods? Probably not. But it’s out of the dark. There is light up ahead and everybody in the company can now see a path towards that light.

I live and work in Silicon Valley. I know what a myopic worldview we often have out here. We tend to think that if something new didn’t happen somewhere between SOMA in San Francisco and Sunnyvale, it can’t be innovative, creative or hot. Silicon Valley is amazing. But let's not forget; so is the rest of the world.

And the rest of the world is BIG. What I love about Nokia is that we’re focused every day on the amazing rest of the world. The people in the rest of the world have great ambitions. They want more. They have great aspirations. They are amazing.

So the next time you’re considering getting a new mobile phone or simply looking something up on a map. The next time you need directions or want to always stay checked in with your family and close friends, I have a suggestion. Try Nokia.

Hey, you don’t have to buy anything you don’t like or don’t want. All I ask is that you simply do yourself a small favor. Explore choice and give something new, something colorful, something that understands the amazing rest of the world… give it a chance. You may even find your own everyday becomes a tad more colorful. Oh, and hell yes… you’ll help pay my salary too.

First Ride on Amazing new Mountain Bike

I posting more bike pictures. No good reason why, other than I think they're really beautiful. Here is my newest addition. This time its an Ibis mountain bike. I rode it for the first time this week-end. AMAZING. Enjoy the photos (taken with the new Nokia Lumia 800 WP ;-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The New Bike Arrives

In my last post I wrote about designing a cool new bike at Mission Bicycle. They finished building it today. And here it is:

And it rides like a charm too!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Build your own

Mine is going to be unpainted steel gray with silver and orange accents. Leather saddle and riser handlebars. I'm not audacious or crazy enough to opt for a fixie (fixed gear). Instead trying to decide whether to be pure with a single speed freewheel, or go with the Shimano Nexus eight speed hub.

Context: I've decided to get a city bike. So last week-end I spent a couple of hours at Mission Bicycle on Valencia Street in San Francisco "designing" my new two-wheeler. I should probably point out that by hard-core bike enthusiast terms I am not technically "designing" the bike. I'm simply picking and choosing all the components, colors and options in order to get a custom assembled bike. And that's exactly what I want.

Here is what "my bike" looked like last Saturday.

A few other customer's bikes were "a bit" further along hanging from the ceiling like art, fully assembled. (Lots more eye-candy here.)

The bikes are assembled around a few stock components such as the frame. I chose my frame size (with expert assistance from Jefferson the General Manager since I didn't know what I was doing) and then the fun began. Between the large variety of colors and combinations of parts I put my personal touch on the design of my bike, and then they hand assemble it for me. Very cool!

They have made some interesting and appealing decisions such as not adding a logo on the frame. This is going to be MY bike. It'll take 3-4 weeks before they actually complete. The wait actually adds to my total experience. I'm walking around excited to see how it all comes out in the end. I can't wait to see it and make final tweaks once it's done.... so I can begin to criss cross the city on my gray, silver and orange two-wheeler.

While Mission Bicycle "designed" the frame of my new bike, it is being manufactured overseas. My only complaint! Why can't they manufacture them in the US?

Mission Bicycle is pointing to an interesting trend of increasing personalization and customization options of an wide array of the products and services.

We've grown accustomed to personal iPhone covers, laser etchings on the back of mobile phones and laptop stickers as a way to express our individuality through our tools. Cool skiing stickers on the back of my laptop has become a way to say "hey I'm more than just another a bland corporate drone". Just like fashion has been a way to express our individuality, or not, simple product customization is becoming a way to do the same.

When I recently got a new car I configured it online. Even your new home can be now be designed and customized online from prefabricated components getting a semi-custom high quality product without the price tag normally associated with building a custom home.

In a world where almost everything is available in original and knock-off versions with a quick search online, I want the bike I ride, the computer bag I carry, the home I build to be a reflection of my values and my style without spending the huge premium that is normally associated with custom design and production.

Mission Bicycle offers assembly of a wide variety of standard components in order to build a product that fits my style and need. If you're looking for a city bike I suggest giving them a look. It's a good quality product AND you can make it a personal statement too. I predict this is just the beginning. New manufacturing techniques are going to allow us to custom assemble a larger and larger range of products until it becomes the expected norm.