Nokia, dethroned – all hail the GM of mobile handsets

Nokia is stuck in a rut, losing ground quickly and unable to change its ways to meet consumer demand.  Four years ago, one would find it unthinkable that the leading handset manufacturer in the world would lose more than 20% market share (that is a conservative estimate, most have it around 40%) in two or three years.

Nokia is still producting great hardware.  The N97 is a magnificent device, capable of replacing your digital camera, video recorder, music player and mobile phone.  However, it is run by software made in 2001.  Symbain OS has become the Windows XP of the mobile  world, unable or willing to change its ways.  Perhaps market dominance and huge profits do this to a company, but Nokia has acknowledged that there is a problem and has still failed to fix/dump/upgrade Symbian OS.

The real question is if Nokia can recover before the cost of an iPhone gets to the price point where the avg mobile user can afford it.  The iPhone is still a bit of a “fancy” phone, but if and when it reaches $200-$300 without a contract you will see a mass exodus of former Nokia users who would have been bound for the N95-N97 range of handsets.

Nokia needs to do a couple of things.

1) Get their app-store (Ovi) working well

2) Revamp symbian or dump it in favor of another OS

3) Ensure that whichever OS they go with has a killer development environment for it

4) Create more standard phones, 30 different screen sizes may no longer be possible, reducing the number to 4 or 5 would actually help.

Not only have the users spoken, but so have the software devs.  Companies like Nokia have not offered an easy way to distribute or build applications for their devices and platforms.  Apple has taken care of that and is reaping the benefits by getting the loyalty of users and developers.  I’ll be the first to tell you how much I loath objective-C, but developing on a standard screen size with a small variety of phones (Edge, 3G and 3GS) makes up for having to deal with Objective-C (well, almost).

Nokia needs to “reinvent” itself and do it quickly, or it will be making a comeback like Palm did with the Pre, 5 years from now.

All hail competition….. 🙂

I look forward to your comments….


10 responses to “Nokia, dethroned – all hail the GM of mobile handsets

  1. The same is happening for Microsoft with Windows Mobile. MS lost much ground quickly, too. Nokia and MS start to remind me of Motorola after Razr. Motorola had a smash hit with the RAZR and then just rested on its laurels, constantly bringing dull reiterations of their previous hit phone until they nearly hit the brick wall. At least some in Nokia appear to have some vision. Nokia should have integrated a mobile phone chip in their N800 / N810 with Maemo 3-4 years ago. I wonder why they didn’t?

    • Yeah, why didn’t they? That is what I want to know… RAZR was a great phone, but it barely changed over 4 iterations.

  2. Do not forget that Nokia own one of the best development framework: Qt, and they are porting is to Symbian.

    If they could ship Qt with the phones, we would have an amazing alternative to Cocoa (I despise Objective-C too).

    Yes, it would be even better if they could drop Symbian for Linux, but I seriously doubt they will do that since they have just acquired Symbian.

    • Yes they do have QT but that is old news and not much has surfaced since then. QT is GREAT and has a new IDE that is getting fantastic reviews, but Nokia is not making a splash, so QT or not at this point is doing them no good.

  3. People talk about S60 smartphones like they’re the only thing Nokia has.

    Nokia still owns a dominating 36-40% slice of the mobile market share overall, and that something isn’t going anywhere quickly.

    • I think your missing the point though, that their market share used to be twice that, globally and is in a perenial nose-dive with no end in sight. You are right, that at some point they will sustain a percentage of the market just due to people who do not want or care to switch. Think Novell Netware, it died years ago, some people still use it, so the company just meandered for 10-12 years. Nokia may go the same route.

      • Twice that? WTF? I think I would have heard of Nokia achieving a >75% market share in anything.

        It is fairly bad for Nokia to be seem to be following the lead of others, in touch-screen tech, for example, but branding it as the “GM of mobile handsets” is premature. Maybe some day when Nokia has a book value of -$150 (yes, that’s a minus sign) per share.

        • If you look at the global handset markset share in 2005-2006 for example, you will see nokia WAS dominant, I don’t have the numbers in front of me right now but can find them if you are interested. A bit premature? Maybe, but isn’t the value in seeing something before it happens and not after? 🙂

  4. What Nokia seems to be missing is a certain single mindedness in the field of experience design and software. They do an awful lot of research all over the world to be locally relevant and they are, in fact, a very locally relevant. But maybe too much research data and a committee mentality is hurting the company.

    You know, if Nokia ditched symbian for a new line of phones, many people would still buy it. Take me for example. I am big Aple fan but still don’t have an iPhone. Nokia’s better camera and their Middle East mapping offering (and also until recently the iPhone’s lack of support of Arabic) kept me with Nokia. But I really never really bought many symbian apps. So a switch in operating system would not hurt me at all. A phone as powerful as the n97 with a totally new user experience would be attractive for me.

    Another area which Nokia is losing out on is the Mac market. My goodness! Can’t they just hire someone to do PC suite for Mac? They are pissing off a really influential community this way.

    • @Ahmad, some very solid points. I think that in the early 2000’s the competition was getting better hardware for the phones, leaving the user experience as secondary less important. However, now that form factor and hardware have reached an acceptable level people are looking for the software to shine through. Apple has indeed made a great device, I own an iPhone and sometimes long for the days of my N73s superb camera and multitask ability. However, I then remember what it was like to buy an application on the Nokia from a third party developer. Also, for everything you lose in an iPhone it really does make a music device unncessary and obviously a phone. However, its camera (3Gor 3GS is still subpar).

      I wish Nokia would try something radically new… they could stop the bleeding if only they took a chance.

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