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Nokia's design chief on the future: new user interfaces, phones without connectors

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Nokia's Marko Ahtisaari talks with The Guardian about the future of the company's hardware and software designs.

Marko Ahtisaari
Marko Ahtisaari

Outside of Stephen Elop himself, Marko Ahtisaari may very well be Nokia's most important employee: as the head of design, he's ultimately responsible for creating hardware and software that's compelling enough to draw people back to a brand that's on the ropes. We've sat down with him ourselves, and we've learned that he's never afraid to say what's on his mind — he has strong opinions about the importance of simplicity and recognizable design, and he doesn't seem interested in compromising those principles as he's moved from working on an in-house project (the N9) to a collaboration with Microsoft on Windows Phone.

The Guardian sat down with Ahtisaari for an interview this month, and although we've heard much of this before — many of his analogies are the same that we've been hearing over the past year, for instance — he offers some insight to what we could be seeing in the future generation or two of Nokia's Windows Phones. He mentions the appeal of NFC for reducing the complexity of UI operations for pairing accessories, something that several of Nokia's Symbian devices have already started supporting; with NFC support coming to Windows Phone this year, it stands to reason we'll be seeing this on Nokia gear soon. When asked about the Lumia 800's rather odd pop-up Micro USB cover, he says that "if you can take away a moving part and make it more beautiful in the placement of the component, we'll do it," asking "why are there any connectors?" It sounds like he's suggesting the notion of a connector-free phone — and between wireless charging, NFC, and stereo Bluetooth, it's not a totally unattainable goal.