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BARCELONA, Spain – Two days into Mobile World Congress and one thing jumps out – the black rectangle. In a world where individuality is everything and personalisation a vital part of everyday mobile life it’s hard to find a product that offers something different or unique.

Each new device looks very much like the next one. Only by looking up at the name of the stand can you tell where it comes from. Inside they all do the same thing. What’s different from one to another?

When the bulk of the device is given over to the screen, it’s an almost impossible challenge to overcome. The Nokia design team managed it, I believe, with both the Nokia N8 and Nokia E7. Although both devices share architecture, chassis and design language, they still both offer an individual solution to the problem they’re overcoming. And neither falls into the black rectangle trap.

Look to the future at the next generation of Nokia Windows Phones and you’ll see already a design language that’s distinctly Nokia and utterly different from what’s been announced elsewhere this week. Combined with a unique UI, a range of services unique to the platform (such as Nokia Maps and Xbox gaming) and you have a device that truly stands out.

Fighting off the black rectangle is only one part of the challenge. On the flipside of creating something unique is the challenge to create something simple and familiar to use. With a brilliantly simple user interface, Windows Phone offers users something that is at once familiar and easy to use. Later this year we’ll also see user interface improvements to Symbian, which will show further enhancements designed to make it even easier to use. This follows a raft of improvements brought in over the last 12 months.

Nokia has long sought to deliver devices to users which they instantly understand, yet offer something unique. Whilst the strategy behind how that is fulfilled might have undergone a pretty radical shakeup, the ethos and end result will still share the same values and deliver products that are utterly unique and brilliantly simple to use. And not a black rectangle in sight.

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