Interview with Head of Design at Nokia about Lumia 920, relationship with Microsoft

Mobile Geeks were able to record Marko Ahtisaari, Head of Design at Nokia, when he sat down with bloggers and the like for thirty minutes while they threw across some questions surrounding the company's advanced Windows Phone and its relationship with Microsoft.

The Lumia 920 is Nokia's latest flagship handset running on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform. The device has been in the news for innovation with both the screen and the on-board shooter, as well as wireless charging (Qi standards).

Ahtisaari goes into detail about how Nokia refines user experiences with the likes of Nokia Music, wireless charging, accessories and more. While many believe Nokia to be the old player in the game, the head of Nokia goes into an interesting explanation about how the work comes together from the multiple teams, as well as where inspiration comes from.

Live Tiles is explained to be saviour of user frustration with countless actions being required to find and locate information within apps. Ahtisaari moves onto state that observing people use technology is how Nokia designs the technology. To enable consumers to glance at a Nokia Windows Phone and maintain strong eye-contact with another person should they have company - which is what Microsoft believes the platform helps achieve: to spend less time on a Windows Phone but get more done.

When asked what comment would make him most proud if a consumer were to leave feedback on a Lumia Windows Phone, Ahtisaari replied with the following:

"It fits into my life."

We're to find that Nokia will continue to develop its brand through the use of differentiating designs and colours used to separate the company from competitors. According to the head of design at the company, Nokia has a tighter, smaller and more efficient team who works on hardware, software, design and more to pack the magic into a chassis.

He's also queried on text input, future innovation, as well as design versus functionality. It's well worth checking the video out to hear what Marko Ahtisaari had to say about Lumia and Nokia as a whole, as well as why didn't Nokia include a magenta / pink Lumia 920.

Source: YouTube; thanks, hag_nor, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I am happy that Microsoft has decided to go with HTC, they are the ones who care about the WP8 brand and can sacrifice profits to push the sales.
    While Nokia is more interested in exclusive deals that will hurt the platform and promote it as a Lumia, trying to hide as much info as possible that it's in fact a Windows Phone
    One thing is certain, if they change the UI in any way, I am out, did not uy Lumia because of the market place icon, it looked out of place, Ovi store like. I want a stock UI, no nokia 
  • That's any company and if HTC gave a shit they would drop android but no they are still making them and even putting color phones on android so NOKIA is the only real supporter taken one for the team shrinking as a business and sacrificing there company for Microsoft!
  • Ehhhh, what?
    Nokia is the only reason why WP is still breathing, they are #1 OEM in terms of WP sales. How many people switched to WP because of Nokia? I know I did, and many others did as well. Media coverage of WP was practically zero before Nokia came on board. WP devices were pushed to the back corner (somewhere next to the restroom) of every AT&T store. Nokia released their Lumia 900, and all of a sudden WP posters were on AT&T windows and WP devices were put front and center of every store.
    How exactly did HTC push the sales by sacrificing profits? They gave out a few phones at WP8 event? Well, Nokia gave away even more 920s the next day at Build. The difference is, htc gave them out to media, Nokia gave them to developers. Nokia is not changing the UI, it remains stock. In fact, they add things that other OEMs refuse to do. The only way Nokia differentiate themselves is by 3 months exclusives and bold designs (designs that HTC blatantly coppied).
    When you power up your HTC 8X or 8S and start Maps, don't forget that Maps on all WP8 devices is powered by Nokia.
  • > How exactly did HTC push the sales by sacrificing profits?
    399 GBP for HTC 8X, a high end phone
    399 GBP for Lumia 820, a mid range phone
  • an average 720p screen alone does not make it highend..  in my mind, 820 is closer to be an highend than the 8x by quite some margin...
  • You must be on some good budd :) i can tell you personally the screen (LCD2) and the camera (which i use everyday on my Evo LTE) is FAR superior on the 8X than the Lumia 820. Yes it has no sd card option or wireless charging or the gyroscope, but those can be argued because not everyone needs the sd card, or cares for the wireless charging, or need the gyroscope cause maybe they dont play games? but the screen and camera cant be argued, thats technology.
  • "Sure, it doesn't have these three things, but it has a better camera!  Everyone uses the camera all the time!"
    Case closed!  8X wins! 
    You sir, are an idiot.
  • 8X for Verizon has wireless charging 
  • have you been reading the reviews.... 8X cam is average at best
  • HTC wins eh? their HTC Titan I and II was a flop. If not that they will IMITATE Lumia's design and color, they wont be getting any appeal from people who willl buy a WP8. Imagine HTC's flagship is even at Lumia's mid range 820 only, get that? pathetic trolls 
  • They are priced accordingly. First, while 8X has better screen resolution, 820 has wireless charging, better screen technology (super sentive touch). Also, 820 has microSD, 8X doesn't. But the difference is that Nokia has better marketshare and better brand recognition in UK than HTC, so they know they can afford putting that price on it.
    Specs are not the only thing that affects prices.
  • I apologize, but your logic is just foolish and blind...
    Nokia is all in with WP, as for HTC, they are just being caucious not get left out.  HTC's focus is still Android.
    Nokia is the one that is taking the biggest risk and sacrifice for WP, regardless of how much money they make.
    As for carried exclusivity, it is MS that helped HTC to get the 8X to be on every carrier.  HTC does not need to spend a peny.  Nokia, however, did that on their own.
    I do not hate HTC, but it is what it is.
  • > HTC does not need to spend a peny. Nokia, however, did that on their own. You mean $1 billion from Microsoft / year? I won't call it on their own
  • I think you completely miss the point. I'll simplify it for you. Two words....All In.
  • They wrote down 2 billion euros on Lumia's from Q1-Q3 in 2012.... that's not even including how much they used to Windows Phone and the ecosystem. 
    I'm honestly hard time figuring are you as stupid as you are making yourself look here, or just trolling. 
  • It's $1 billion over 5 years. If you don't think Microsoft got the better deal, read this:
    I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but part of me does feel you are trolling. If you're not then please consider a few points (of many): Nokia are exclusive to Windows Phone. Nokia's primary goal is to grow the ecosystem. Nokia have a strong developer program for Windows Phone (current one gives Windows developers over £1000 of material inclduing Telerik and Microsoft membership). Many of the exclusive apps wouldn't have happened AT ALL without Nokia's time and effort, you may sneer that they're exclusive, but it's better that than not existing at all. Nokia have been giving free phones to developers for over a year now. By concentrating on the Lumia brand, they're helping Windows Phone, think Vaio or Galaxy, which boost Windows and Android repectively.  
  • You do realize Microsoft is paying Nokia for the use of Nokia Maps on all WP8 phones as well as Nokia Maps used as part of Bing Maps?  Microsoft isn't just giving money away.  They are paying for services and apps.  
    Also lot of the Nokia exclusives are because Nokia has relationships with the app developers or Nokia is paying the bill to have an app created.  What apps has HTC brought to the table that people want?
  • Yeah right, HTC is now caught in the middle of nowhere. They played badly with neither Android, WinMo and WP7. And now they are trying ti steal the show from WP8, dream on HTC. Cheap phones.
  • one of the most ignorant posts i have ever read in any blog, ever.
    So company that was once Europeas largest company and most profitable tech company, selling 25 million smartphones before joining Windows Phone, sacrifing tens of thousands jobs from it's 120 000 workforce is not sacrifing enough.... ARE YOU SERIOUS?
    Company that is powering every single Windows 8/WP8 maps out there, company that is only other company with Microsoft doing massive developer events around dev hubs around the world, company that sacrificed 5 billion euros this year to Windows Phone.
    And you have the nerve to compare HTC that makes it's sales from Android to a 7 times larger company that is risking it ALL for Windows Phone. That's just simply amazing.
  • Whats wrong with the exclusives?  HTC had a head start on Windows Phone for awhile, what have they done for us as far as getting special apps opened up for the consumers?  Nokia just want their brand to be know again, the only to do this is to be exclusives so people would buy their devices.  Makes good business sense to me.
  • >Whats wrong with the exclusives? 
    Er.. cos I want the Lumia 920, on VodaFone - and I cannot buy it.
    I won't wait, I will get an HTC instead. Thats STUPID!
    I have twittered to the twats at Nokia as much.
  • News Flash:::Nokia has to make money sometime instead of constantly taking losses. Apparently VondaFone didn't offer enough royalties to Nokia. Nokia spends on advertising, App Development, as well as design expensed. No other manufacturer has put as much time, money, or effort into growing WP ecosystem outside of MS themselves. You would this companies like HTC and Samsung would have put more effort behind marketing and bringing apps to WP due to their existing relationship with developers from their Android offerings that span over many years now. In reality, these two manufactures should have more credibility with developers due to how large Android is worldwide, yet they've chosen not to use their leverage to grow WP. So don't knock Nokia for really going all-in and not half-assed like HTC & Sammy.
    End of Story!
  • You are an idiot but I will still reply to you.
    More people are using windows phone because of Nokia than vise versa.
    If it wasnt for nokia, windows phone platform would have been buried now
  • Whatever your smoking I need to know. Seriously Nokia all the way. HTC is giving time to Windows phone because Samsung is beating them in the Android department. HTC is doing well with making wp8 handsets but Nokia shows more support to WP then any other OEM.
  • HTC is a good partner, but when WP first launched, it needed excellent hardware to stand out of the slew of Android phones and iPhone, but no one delivered. Not HTC, not Samsung, not LG.. it felt like they all were half-heartedly invested in it..
    When Nokia joined, they brought the WP hardware to a whole new height. It was the first WP that actually stood out on many levels. Originality, hardware quality, brilliant apps. While others kept releasing average WP devices and focused on Android.
    Nokia was a real partner!
    Don't get me wrong, it's good to see HTC and Samsung more involved in WP. Choice is always good.
    But Nokia definitely influenced it (and influenced colored phones!)
  • W'ed all like one ;-)
  • I simply love what Nokia and Microsoft has done. I do think that Microsoft should continue to micromanage Nokia. It does seem that they are wanting to implement more of what they want in the phone. They do advertise their product more so than advertising windows. That's my opinion. The 920 will be my next phone, I just want them to stay focused on Microsoft's intentions.
  • I see your point, but this is just a marketing strategy. You have to get a device with the OS in consumer hands first by any means necessary; Once this occurs, everyone will know it's a windows phone and inquires as to what other offerings are available if the Nokia is not the flavor they want. Everyone say's that windows/Microsoft was not view very highly in the public eye, so why risk saying windows if we already know the consumers perception of them whether right or wrong? As stated above, you have to get them to try the phone first; Once in hand, the see how fluid it is and find out it's a new windows device and its great; they in turn spread the word to friends and family, marketshare grows.....a win win for both MS & Nokia
  • The Lumia 920 is a very nice phone, but there is still one little thing that I try to ignore, but keeps bugging me: Why is there do much bezel at the bottom? It makes the phone seem unbalanced to me. I know I'm being picky and there's probably a functional reason behind it.
  • yes.  you will have less chance to touch the capacitive keys if they are further away from the bottom.  Plus, I think it adds style.
  • Good point. I'm sure I'll love this phone more, when I see it in person.
  • Because our generation is stupid and continues to buy capacitive button phones that suk ass
  • i agree with you on that... i think the invisible buttons add style, but they have not figured out a way to do it right.  cheers
  • Windows Phone 9 will probably go all touch screen.  Once everybody gets the hang of the rest of the touch quircks it'll be easier to eliminate the capacitave buttons completely (not have them hanging around on the buttom of the screen like android)
  • You mean like the N9, which is the first true buttonless phone in the world?
  • Yes, that's right. I have the Lumia 900 and I (mostly) accidentally run Bing Search every time I put down the phone in the table because (for some reason) my palm touches that capacitive key.
  • Take it as the erstwhile gutter on the 7.5 start could scroll on the screen without accidentally tapping on the tiles. Similarly they included the bezel so that you could hold the phone without accidental Bing search taps..
  • Makes sense. Coz I always accidentally launch Bing search when trying to put my phone in my pocket or place it on the table.
  • Lots of people complain about hitting the capaitive buttons when holding it in landscape for example say or browsing or playing games.  With them spaced a little farther from the bottom, they are now less likely to be hit when holding it.
  • Most of the things he says about design sounds like Peter Skillman...
    Anyway, big departure from his talk a year ago:
  • Nokia does better than all the others. Nokia brings the water to a thirsty baby. While I have owned two HTC phones and 1 Samsung Windows Phone in that time Nokia has made people aware of Windows. Samsung wasn't advertising like their galaxy line and HTC didn't try hard enough. Before Nokia there was no incentive to create apps for Windows. That's why Nokia gets the exclusives.
  • I don't care anything. Just use Nokia like all of my old phone, they are all , sure, Nokia!
  • So the CMYK color scheme is on purpose, I wasn't just imagining it!  (Even though they're using red instead of magenta)
  • Anyone want to help?                     @NokiaUS @HTC @ATT @Verizon @windowsphone The MS WP8 Even has come and gone. #YUNORELEASEDATES
  • I really like nokia lumia series
  • All I care about is when Nokia 920 drops for att I don't wanna add tethering for my surface till then come on we've waited long enough
  • Just ordered a white 920. I´m really looking forward to dig in to the wp8 world, coming from Android :)
  • I want to know why they didn't add a microsd slot to the 920.
  • It was allready answered earlier. They didn't want to taint the design with sdcard slot or something like that.
  • Lame excuse.  There are the camera button, the power button, the volume button.  Just one more sim card like slot will enhance the device even more.  I bet the next version will have it.
  • It wasnt compromising the visual design as much as it would've compromised the physical design. Just imagine what kind of space a sd slot tray will take up and what kind of effect that might have on an unibody design.
  • Yeah, I want to slap the designers for that decision... It's the #1 reason why I'm waiting for 2nd gen WP8 phones. I refuse to buy the ATIV, or the mid-range phones that DO have microSD. The flagship phones should have all the bells and whistles, not be missing one key element.
  • Don't wanna be mean, but this chap is a waffler :)
    Also, they could have added a Micro SD card on the 920, I think they probably thought 32G +Skydrive was enough for everyone. Then some spec monkies keeps asking about SD card. And they answer by waffling.
    This guy has the look, and the voice (good langauge). But my ears look for substance (content/fact), there wasn't much.
    I'm half way through the video, but I've got no real insight. And I do like academic thinking, bluesky, nebulus broad thought.
    Gravitas, with the occasional smile, hes a good audience pleaser."It fits into my life" .. Really?
    As a Nokia leader, I would have said "i love my phone" or "my life has changed" or "I couldn't live without it:" even "its better than my iPhone". But.... "it fits into my life" .. Sigh.
  • "I love my phone" is not remarkable... Apple users love theirs too. "My life has changed" or "I couldn't live without it" - I think overly dramatic and would be taken as insincere. "Better than my iPhone"??? What employee of Nokia, let alone the head designer, would admit to owning an iPhone?? "It fits into my life" is basically the underlying principles that both Nokia and MS have embraced. The 'glance & go' interface is supposed to help you get information quickly and let get on with your life... Not make you stop what you're doing, hunt around for an app, open the app, navigate around, close the app, then get on with your life. It should fit into your life, not make you accommodate around it. It's the underlying principle behind "The Amazing Everyday" :)
  • "What employee of Nokia, let alone the head designer, would admit to owning an iPhone??"
    Have you heard about the saying "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer."
    In my opinion, owning an iphone/gs3 is a very good way to keep track of your competitors.
    Elop said also something like this on his burning platform memo (if I'm Not mistaken).
  • Hmm yes, that's one thing... but actively using a competitors device is like not having faith in your own. Imagine the outcry if Bill Gates admitted to using an iPhone! haha :P
  • Anyone else think he looks like a young and bald Christopher Walken? :D
  • Did you guys know this guy is the son of one of our (Finland's) ex-president's? :D
  • It would fit my life if it had expandable memory. Apparently because of someone's arrogance in believing expansion would somehow "defile" the experience, people like me need to carry multiple devices or make sacrifices. The 920 is beautiful, but empty.