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June 9, 2008

Snappy answers to stupid questions

ESPOO, Finland – When I was a kid, I used to love to read Mad Magazine. One section that I particularly loved was the ‘Snappy answers to stupid questions‘ where the graphic would show a semi-obvious situation, a person asking a stupid question, and a snappy sarcastic reply from the person in the semi-obvious situation.

Ok, so we are not saying that folks here ask stupid questions, nor do we want to get in the habit of giving snappy replies. But, we must say that there are types of questions that are valid questions you want answered, some even quite obvious, but that we cannot answer. We’ve written about it a bit before. And in this article, we’d like to give you some specific ideas as to the kind of questions we won’t answer.

Future products

No matter how excited we are about the great products coming down the road, we just cannot discuss, comment, hint, acknowledge, and so on, any product or service that has not been officially launched. Yeah, things might leak (and more on that in a later post), but you’re never going to get us to make any positive or negative comment about that leak.

So, if you’ve heard a rumour or seen pictures of something that we have not announced, do not bother trying to get us (or anyone from Nokia) to give you the answer you’re looking for.

Business strategy

Nokia communicates their business strategies through various channels and analysts pick up on them and write about them. So, if you’re trying to read the tea-leaves, a decent web search will yield a good picture of where we are at and where we are thinking of going. And we do occasionally summarize some of these points here, as they pertain to the stories we are writing about.

But, if you ask us about things like price cuts, device numbers, staff changes, and the like, we really can’t help. Indeed, not only is it speculative and could reveal things to our competitors, but financial regulatory agencies could get upset and come after us for manipulating the market.


One thing we like about Nokia is that they don’t like to be disrespectful to competitors. While many companies will do whole ad campaigns naming and putting down their competitors (Coke vs. Pepsi anyone?), the farthest we get is focusing the campaign on particular features that infer a particular competitor. Finns are modest and like to let the facts and accomplishments speak for them selves.

And this week is no different from any other (did I just make you think of a particular competitor?), since we are constantly challenged by comparisons and the most we do is just reiterate our benefits. And, oh, is this so hard to do. This might make us seem like some kind of wimpy European softy, but, we think it speaks to the ethics of the company. And looking at the size, reach, and accomplishments of the company, seems like the policy has served us well.

Support and service

Ok, so this is not something we’re not allowed to talk about, but it’s something we’re really not qualified to talk about. If we see common support issues crop up, such as the Nokia Software Updater or something with N-Gage, then we’ll try and shake the tree over at Nokia Care. But, if you have an specific issue updating your phone or getting some warranty work done, you should not direct the questions here. We’re not set up to provide support. Nokia already has well established channels for helping you get your phone fixed and excellent discussion boards to get some help online.

Our role in this

With that in mind, we are actually trying to get folks to open up as much as possible (within marketing, business, and regulatory boundaries, of course). We do try to chase down these answers. For example, folks kept asking about a particular software update. We put pressure on the relevant groups and got them to give us a decent answer. Also, we get lots of questions about Mac versions of our products. We have been pushing the Mac group to give us any tidbits they might have that we can pass on to you.

James, Mike, and I at one time were all writing about Nokia from the outside, so we know how frustrating it can be for you all. We’ve been getting in trouble regularly on your behalf, so that things that should be public, are public.

So, if we politely decline to answer, ignore your question, or come back with a snappy answer, it wasn’t that you made a stupid question, it’s just that you asked something we really can’t answer.

Photo by Yourbartender.