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Search results for 'ahtisaari'
6 September 2012

Marko Ahtisaari, “Nokia’s visionary,” wants to “out-design Apple”

marko-660x440

Marko Athisaari, Nokia’s head of design, is pushing a general overall vision where advanced function is blended into unforgettable form¿post-industrial form. The dream, if not the exact language, is very familiar. Nokia is marketing its phone directly into the teeth of Apple’s strength: Design.

He talks a great game, and fondles an impressive product. But certainly Ahtisaari knows that by focusing on design, he is taking on the lofty emperors of design at Apple. And it can’t be lost on him that just as Apple is the world’s wealthiest company, Nokia is struggling for its life. But if Ahtisaari is intimidated, he’s not showing it. Asked about Apple, he says, “The best way you can show respect for competition is to do something meaningfully better.” And if all else fails, there’s always that hole in the ice.

Feature on Wired

9 September 2011

Marko Ahtisaari: Patterns of Human Interaction (the Nokia N9 design video)

Marko Ahtisaari
Marko Ahtisaari is the global head of Nokia’s design unit, and he is responsible for Nokia’s product and user experience design.

During Copenhagen Design Week, Marko shared Nokia’s thoughts on how design will shape and influence the patterns of human interaction in the future at a Nokia event at Bella Sky Hotel.

He then discussed the design of the N9 smartphone, as an initial example of what Nokia is planning in the interaction design/user experience design of its upcoming phones.

Watch video

11 October 2008

Congratulations to the Ahtisaari family

Ahtisaari
On this blog, we have repeatedly featured the insights of Marko Ahtisaari, the former director of design strategy at Nokia and now director of brand and design at the advertising-supported phone company Blyk, and earlier this year we had the pleasure of working with him on a small project.

Yesterday Marko’s father Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland, was honoured with the Nobel Peace Price.

Our warmly felt congratulations to the Ahtisaari family.

(The photo, which comes from the Guardian website shows Marko and his father in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 2 1973. Ahtisaari was then the Finnish ambassador in Tanzania.)

2 October 2007

Marko Ahtisaari on the Blyk user experience

Marko Ahtisaari
Mobi Ad Network has published an interview with Blyk’s Marko Ahtisaari where he talks about the design of the service, user testing, targeting and personalisation.

Blyk – the first completely ad-supported MVNO – launched this week in the UK market. There has been a lot of controversy about Blyk’s innovative business model – providing free SMS messages and voice minutes in return for watching ads. Blyk services will be limited to their target 16 to 24 year old demographic, and they plan to recruit their subscribers on campus and through viral invitation.

Marko Ahtisaari is a key member of the Blyk team, responsible for the user experience as well as brand design and development. In this interview, Marko talks about the special advertising formats that Blyk will use, and explains why Blyk actually has to think more like a media company and less like a mobile operator.

Read interview

23 January 2007

Ahtisaari talk on the future of mobility

Marko Ahtisaari
Marko Ahtisaari (see these posts) is the former director of design strategy at Nokia and now director of brand and design at the advertising-supported phone company Blyk.

In this ten minute talk at Le Web 3, which you can see on video, Ahtisaari first discusses the history and the scale of the development of mobile devices over the last ten, fifteen years, with a particular focus on the changing social role of the phone.

He then points out “a few challenges that are opportunities for finding new growth,” where again he focus on the social role. They are in short “reach, sometimes off, hackability, social primitives and freedom.”

To understand more of what this mean, I suggest you watch his talk, although I can point out a few lines: “We are not doing a good job of designing the experienced of tuning out of communication. [...] We can do better at designing the tuning out experience, so that we can be present physically and then again in the flow of communication.”

(All other conference presentations can also be viewed on vpod.tv.)

1 December 2005

Interview with Nokia design director Marko Ahtisaari

Moiaphoto2003small
A recent interview with Marko Ahtisaari is now online at the Danish Design Center’s web portal.

Ahtisaari is the Director of Design Strategy at Nokia and Sebastian Campion talked to him just before his presentation at the Ars Electronica conference in September.

Besides talking about hot industry concepts such as ‘simplicity’, Ahtisaari offers some insight on the relation between user-centered design and Nokia’s innovation strategies.

Read interview

(via Régine Debatty)

18 January 2011

Devices will allow for more heads-up mobility

Marko Ahtisaari
Marko Ahtisaari, senior vp and head of design strategy at Nokia, was interviewed on the [Nokia] Ideas Project site.

In the [short] interview, Ahtisaari states that true mobility means devices that users can operate and interact with on the go, at a glance and even one-handed; an alternative to the immersive attention many current smart phones now encourage.

The site also posts links to the Ahtisaari presentation at Le Web in Paris.

In a first video, we see Ahtisaari talking about his belief that we are in the very early phases of the smart phone, comparable to where the automobile was in the 1880s, which means we have yet to reach a dominant paradigm. Dominant smart phone designs, including the touchscreen OS, and multiple, personalizable home screens, and data systems, will be increasingly informed by collective intelligence, he says.

Then LeWeb creator Loic LeMeur interviews Marko Ahtisaari about the kinds of design innovation we can expect at Nokia in 2011 and future trends in the industry going forward.

23 June 2010

The huge challenge of Nokia’s head of design and UX

Marko Ahtisaari
The acclaimed Italian journalist Luca De Biase recently interviewed Marko Ahtisaari (blogwikipedia), Senior Vice President, Design and User Experience of Nokia, for the Italian business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Here is what happened these last few weeks: A warning by Nokia on second-quarter sales and profits, a recent fall in the Nokia share price, yesterday’s news that Nokia runs a risk of being downgraded by S&P, and now the latest news that the iPhone is biting in Nokia’s European markets. But not all is bad: Nokia is making some gains in less expensive smartphones. Yet in all, this surely creates huge pressure on Marko, who was recently brought back to Nokia after careers at Blyk and Dopplr, to radically improve Nokia’s position in the high-end device market.

In view of this context, here is my translation of the story on Ahtisaari that was published in Italian:

Ahtisaari (Nokia): “My micro-sized social network”

Smart phones: After the blockbuster success of the iPhone, Nokia intends to write the sequel. Marko Ahtisaari, 41, was mandated to draft the screenplay. He first needs to to ask himself some basic questions: Who is the leader? The biggest or the most influential? Nokia or Apple?

Nokia’s new head of design knows that this is the key question making the rounds since about three years ago the charismatic Steve Jobs crossed the road which was once so securely in the hands of the Finnish phone giant. The question remains open, as Nokia continues to sell a dozen times more phones than Apple. But it only gains a fraction of the media attention. And of the market attention, as evidenced by the succession of iPhone imitations of the iPhone, launched by competitors. Peter Drucker once said: “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right thing.” Now Marko Ahtisaari plans to come up with a surprising answer: a giant can do the right thing. Ma deve ribaltare parecchie abitudini. But he has to overturn many old habits, because the issue is no longer to sell good products, but to regain the cultural leadership.

How? By changing the game. “I will have to tear down some dogmas,” says Ahtisaari, referring to the mobile phone world that now seems to only speak the language of Cupertino and Silicon Valley. “The leadership of Apple, Google, Facebook is American. We are a European company. And we have something to say.”

Yeah. But what? The challenge is immense: Apple has managed to redefine the mobile phone business, making it into a complex whole that builds on design quality, simplicity and number of functions, emotional contents, and usefulness of online services. Apple has brought its experience with internet-connected computers to the world of mobile devices, and started a whole new market of applications, often produced by small software houses all over the world, that provide the iPhone with a breadth of functions that no one company could ever design. Apple captured a central strategic position that has displaced the other handset manufacturers, has generated an earthquake in electronic commerce, and has even created problems for the operators.

Nokia has the opportunity to play on a much wider field than that of Apple: it can serve the end of the market that wants a good phone that is not too smart; can offer smartphones with all crucial functions at the lowest price on the market; but also has to play at the high-end of expensive and attractive smartphones like the iPhone. It is the high-end market where cultural leadership is defined.

So Ahtisaari spends half his time thinking about how to redefine the relationship between mobile phones and their users. “As I look at people in the restaurant, I see them bending over on their phones, no longer paying attention to the other diners. I think there is something to improve here. The experience offered by the current smartphone is “immersive”. It is persuasive technology, as BJ Fogg would have said. A phone that is controlled by touching the screen invites users to give all their attention to the device. “But for me it is more important that people can look each other into their eyes, and that the phone stays in its place.” It is a generous starting point for a designer: moving the products out of the way to leave the centre stage to people. “This is consistent with our identity: Nokia is not lifestyle. Nokia serves and facilitates communication between people. Now we have to bring this concept to a new level.”

Ahtisaari has all the fundamentals to move Nokia forward in the new millennium. His culture has been formed by a number of start-ups in the fast world of social networks. During the years when his father Martti worked with diplomatic patience in Kosovo, before being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Marko was CEO of Dopplr, a platform to share travel information. Now at Nokia he began by unifying the groups that deal with hardware and software design. And he works closely with the developers of online services, from Ovi – Nokia’s application platform – to the group that develops mapping services, which is in a bit of a refresh these days after having been taken from Yahoo!. He knows where to play his next game.

“Advertising-based social networks have to concentrate all attention on themselves and tend to confuse the boundaries between the private network of friends and public communication. They must grow, always gaining new users who themselves also have an increasing number of connections – as one can see with Facebook. “We [at Nokia] will always be on the side of small groups that communicate. We focus on the relationships that develop within the circle of trusted friends and neighbours. And we have to serve this small circle with a mosaic of services that do not intrude with people, by making their lives public. We will always be on the side of privacy even if this would slow down the growth of the service.”

In short, Ahtisaari’s project seems clear. A new approach for a number of emerging needs in a world that is increasingly hyperconnected and distracted by today’s smartphones. The implementation is still to be conceived. But already it is clear how right the questions are that Ahtisaari has raised and how potentially revolutionary the responses can be. Strong leadership has the effect that many will follow the guide. But it can have many causes: vision, credibility, power, authority, muscle, size, charisma. If in a few years time we will see less people bent over the displays, also Ahtisaari will walk tall.

Three stages

1. When everybody online knew everything about everybody
The premise. Privacy online? But it doesn’t exist, of course. The phrase is by Scott McNealy, then Sun’s head, and goes back some 10 years. It was a company vision and an ideological mantra. In the effort to reduce the world to a global village, the web knows down all obstacles in a euphoric pursuit of exchange. It is the zero level of the Internet, with sharing the banner word: everyone wants to know everything about everyone. Having to sacrifice a bit of privacy seems to be the least of problems. This approach finds its triumph in Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Born to trace the “classmates” who are out of sight, the social network soon became a must. You have to be there to be someone.

2. Facebook and Google run for cover
The rethinking. Google’s dizzying race turns into an obstacle course. Just a few days ago there were the Street View maps that show the faces of unsuspecting passengers. And they protest. The Mountain View giant decides to suspend the release of his new facial recognition software. It puts limits to Google Buzz, the new social network introduced to connect users directly to their most frequent Gmail contacts. Facebook decides to do the same. It is an attempt to staunch the decline of contacts and members. Social networks discover that privacy has value – not only philosophically, but also economically.

3. No secrets? Only for those who I say
The possible scenario. Social networks are shown for what they are: not a medium in which to cultivate “friendships”, but a house without doors and walls of glass. According to calculations made by SearchEngineLand, the number of active users is growing less and less quickly. Possibly because people have sensed this possible two path development: social networks that are restricted to few with a threshold of privacy tends to a minimum, and a broader use of the Web with fewer personal data ‘moving around’. This is the direction of the scenario drawn by Marko Ahtisaari: minimal social networks for “real” friends.

Disclosure: Experientia has worked with Marko in the past (while he was at Blyk), and we admire his competence, strategic insights and entrepreneurial approach. So good luck, Marko.

Also, you may want to check this article on the vision presented by Tero Ojanpera, Nokia’s Executive Vice President of Services, in London this morning.

16 May 2010

Nokia’s designs on Apple

Nokia N8
As Nokia’s senior vice president of design and user experience, Marko Ahtisaari is the man charged with leading the software and hardware designers who must craft the challenger to the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices that the Finns have so far lacked, reports the FT’s tech blog.

“I still think the whole industry is missing a trick,” said Mr Ahtisaari during a meet-the-press session in London yesterday. “All the touchscreen interfaces are very immersive. You have to put your head down. What Nokia is very good at is designing for mobile use: one-handed, in the pocket. Giving people the ability to have their head up again is critical to how we evolve user interfaces.”

Given humanity’s growing fixation with staring at glowing rectangles, any innovation that helps improve off-screen interaction really would be “social change”, as Mr Ahtisaari puts it.

Read article

30 January 2008

Blyk as a user-generated media company

Blyk
Marek Pawlowski of MEX thinks that Blyk, the advertising-funded MVNO, is really a user-generated media company:

“Blyk is typically described in press reports as ‘an advertising-funded MVNO’, but after spending some time looking at the company’s model and talking to the management, I’m inclined to think of it as a new type of mobile business.

Blyk is actually user-generated media company, but with some important differences. Unlike most ‘user-generated’ content ventures, it does not rely on users going out of their way to compose their own web pages or post photographs. Nor does it seek to place advertisements within the ‘content’ itself. Instead, Blyk’s ‘media’ is the free person-to-person communications it offers its subscribers.

Traditional media companies, like magazines and television studios, must employ staff to produce a constant stream of compelling content onto which they can tack their advertising inventory. User-generated services face their own set of challenges, particularly the need to gain scale with breakneck speed, thereby conquering the ‘empty rooms’ problem. Blyk’s offering, however, enables the company to sidestep the scale issues of the user-generated model and avoid the production costs of traditional media. All they need is for people to remain interested in the idea of making calls and sending texts.”

Read full story

Blyk by the way announced today that they are expanding into the Netherlands and that they have some new investors, including Goldman Sachs and Industrial and Financial Investments Company (IFIC).

4 September 2007

People regularly featured on this blog

In alphabetical order:

A
Marko Ahtisaari
Ken Anderson

B
Nik Baerten
Genevieve Bell
Chris Bernard
Tim Berners-Lee
Ralf Beuker
Nina Boesch
Danah Boyd
Stefana Broadbent
Tyler Brûlé
Bill Buxton

C
Jan Chipchase
Hilary Cottam
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alistair Curtis

D
Uday Dandavate
Liz Danzico
Regine Debatty
Paul Dourish

E
Jyri Engeström
Richard Eisermann

G
Jesse James Garrett
Fabien Girardin
Anand Giridharadas
Bruno Giussani
Adam Greenfield

H
Laurent Haug

I
Mizuko Ito

J
Bob Jacobson
Matt Jones

K
Jonathan Kestenbaum
Anne Kirah
Dirk Knemeyer
Jon Kolko
Mike Kuniavsky

L
Loïc Lemeur
Dan Lockton
Victor Lombardi

M
Nico Macdonald
John Maeda
Ranjit Makkuni
Ezio Manzini
Roger Martin
Stefano Marzano
Simona Maschi
Bruce Mau
Grant McCracken
Jess McMullin
Peter Merholz
Crysta Metcalf
Bill Moggridge
Peter Morville
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen

N
Jakob Nielsen
Donald Norman
Nicolas Nova
Bruce Nussbaum

P
Steve Portigal

R
Carlo Ratti
Howard Rheingold
Louis Rosenfeld
Stephen Rustow

S
Dan Saffer
Nathan Shedroff
Jared Spool
Yaniv Steiner
Bruce Sterling

T
John Thackara

V
Marco van Hout
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Vanderbeeken
Joannes Vandermeulen
Jeffrey Veen
Timo Veikkola
Michele Visciola
Eric von Hippel

W
Tricia Wang
Luke Wroblewski

Z
Paola Zini
Jan-Christoph Zoels

18 February 2007

Videos of “Digital, Life, Design” conference online

DLD
All sessions of the “Digital, Life, Design” (DLD) conference in Munich, which ran in January, can now be seen in online video.

DLD is seen as Europe’s leading international conference on the opportunities opened up by worldwide digitisation. Two days before the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, 700 German and international experts came together in Munich to discuss the future markets, society, and lifestyles (see programme).

As in previous years, the publisher Dr. Hubert Burda and high-tech investor Dr. Yossi Vardi were its patrons.

Several sessions caught my intention:

Interface and design
With: Bruce Sterling, Walt Mossberg (Wall Street Journal), Chris Bangle (IBM) and Tim Brown (IDEO). Moderator: Claudius Lazzeroni.

The future’s future
With: Caterina Fake (Flickr), Niklas Zennström (Skype) and Thierry Antinori (Lufthansa). Moderator: David Kirkpatrick.

Disruptive connections
With: Hjalmar Winbladh (Rebtel Networks), Jeff Pulver (pulver.com), Marko Ahtisaari (Blyk) and Alexander Straub. Moderator: Christoph Braun.

But there is much more…

3 November 2006

Goodbye, mobile phone bills. Hello, advertising. [International Herald Tribune]

Blyk
Pitching itself as the world’s first advertising-supported phone company, a Finnish company called Blyk plans to roll out a free mobile phone service next summer aimed at 16- to 24-year- olds, first in Britain and then elsewhere in Europe, writes Thomas Crampton in the International Herald Tribune.

“Crucial to Blyk’s system will be creating advertisements that attract users, said Antti Ohrling, co-founder of Blyk and chairman of Contra Advertising, based in Finland.”

“We intend on only advertising information that people want and in a fun way,” Ohrling said. “To succeed, we must offer an enjoyable and simple user experience.”

As one could expect, the company’s staff list is filled to the brim with former Nokia people, including its CEO Pekka Ala-Pietilä, a former president of the Nokia Corporation, and Marko Ahtisaari, its highly regarded director of brand and design, who is a former Director of Design Strategy at Nokia (and son of a former Finnish president).

But claiming an advertising supported mobile phone operator as a “disruptive and potentially revolutionising new medium” seems a bit much.

Read full story

UPDATE: 7 November 2006

Meanwhile Business Week picks up on the story. It also underlines the “gold-plated” make-up of the company. Apparently the billionaire chairman of the German software maker SAP is one of the investors. But the question remains: “Why are so many smart people backing a company that has no revenue and doesn’t even plan to start operating until next year?”.

The trick is in the advertising. “Messages will be targeted to users and be integrated seamlessly with the handset.” Advertising will “never interfere with the primary function of the phone” and “if you do it in the right way, it’s something people [will] find useful and fun.”

“If the company’s approach proves successful, industry watchers say, it could dramatically affect the mobile phone industry and pose a serious threat to existing operators.”

Though Blyk will function as a “so-called mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, meaning it will market service under its own brand but use the wireless network of an operator still to be named”, the company still faces serious challenges.

“For example, getting young people to sign up for the service will be a challenge, as will the logistics of shipping customers the SIM cards they need to use, and making sure the technology works. [...]“

“Blyk must also convince advertisers. [...] It will be difficult to measure what effect the ads are having.”

Read full story

4 October 2006

How the human experience drives design at Nokia

The human experience at Nokia
Nokia’s ‘culture of mobility‘ web magazine (frequently reported on on this blog) has suddenly disappeared from the company’s home page. Perhaps not surprisingly given the fact that so few people were writing about it.

From human experience to individual tastes…
In my quest to understand why, I came across a section announced as ‘How the human experience drives design at Nokia‘, but when ‘reading more’, the same picture suddenly gets another title: ‘Nokia’s newly unified design team is attuned to the tastes of the individuals‘.

…and back to human inspirations
I frankly do not think of experience research as taste research, but I guess this might be due to the copy writers. The ‘In Focus’ section covered by this title includes a nice little portrait of Marko Ahtisaari (also covered earlier here), Nokia Design’s strategy head, who follows the path of “street anthropology that explores the rich tapestry of people’s everyday lives.”

“One of the most important trends is the big human fundamental to make something your own over time. People definitely have a role to play in completing the design,” Ahtisaari says. “We see both physical adaptation, such as the way people in India use light emitting diodes to enhance religious iconography, and software adaptation, which has been made easier through straightforward scripting languages like Python.”

“Nokia is continuously working on new forms of interaction with devices,” he says. “In so doing we keep asking questions about how people are using and adapting our products so that we can find the next path forward.”

1 June 2006

Nokia design director describes second stage of mobile communications

Moiaphoto2003small
This afternoon Nokia’s Design Director Marko Ahtisaari talked about “Mobile 2.0: Social Renaissance” at Reboot 8.0 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In his talk, which is summarised by Nicolas Nova on Pasta & Vinegar, Ahtisaari described the second stage of mobile communication. The mobile industry today has a huge scale: it reached 2bn mobile subscribers today. Ahtisaari believes the next 2bn are very different, in terms of usage patterns and income. To him, there are seven challenges that can be opportunities.

Read full post

23 September 2005

Ars Electronica posts audio of over forty presentations

Hybrid_index_03
Ars Electronica has posted over forty mp3 audio files (or “podcasts”) of presentations that took place at its recent festival, 1-6 September 2005.

The most famous speakers are of course Derrick de Kerckhove, Neil Gershenfeld (MIT Media Lab), Marko Ahtisaari (Nokia) and Marco Susani (Motorola), but there are many others less well-known but no less interesting.

The audio overview page just lists people’s names, so if you want to know who they are, download the programme (pdf, 2.7 mb).

12 September 2005

Nokia design director on mobile future

Moiaphoto2003small
Next year there will be more than 2 billion mobile phone users in the world. Marko Ahtisaari, Director of Design Strategy at Nokia, outlines seven challenges to our shared mobile future: reach, sometimes off versus always on, hackability, social primitives, openness, simplicity and justice.

The post is a revised version of a talk given at the Ars Electronica 2005 Symposium “Hybrid” at the invitation of Derrick de Kerckhove.

(via Doors Report)