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What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the introducing-the-3d-cloud-social-farm-phone dept.
snydeq writes "Mikael Ricknäs reports how Nokia can turn around its three-year slide in the mobile market — one that has transformed the company's iconic N95 into a distant memory given the pace of innovation at Apple and around Android. Completely underestimating the impact of the iPhone, Nokia took too long to realize that Symbian's lack of touch capabilities would hinder its ability to compete in the smartphone market. Moreover, the company's move to open source the OS has significantly slowed down Symbian's development, according to analysts, leaving Nokia with both a lack of support from other vendors and a platform on which competitors can keep a close eye. Meanwhile, developer interest in Nokia's Ovi app store is nearly nonexistent. 'Nokia's problems are still fixable but the window is closing. I am not optimistic that they will be fixed in 2010 because there isn't much time left; if they aren't fixed in 2011, Nokia will be in big trouble.'"
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What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile

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  • by JesseL (107722) * on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:26PM (#32856038) Homepage Journal

    ... the N900?

    As far as I'm concerned the only thing Nokia is missing is a better marketing campaign for their product that compares very favorably with the Apple and Android offerings.

  • by SquarePixel (1851068) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:33PM (#32856088)

    Nokia has a significant market share in mobile world. Not just the toys. Apple only has one product line while Nokia has many, many different phones suited for quite much everyone, and is generally looked up to in the business world (as is HTC too). Not everyone cares about buying some simple games from the app store, you know.

    I think the story would be better worded as "What Nokia Must Do To Compete With Apple", as they already sure as hell know what to do in the mobile world.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:38PM (#32856118) Homepage

    One good product in a sea of mediocrity ones does not make a good company. Just look at Sony's product catalog and see what I mean.

    Why can't the companies focus on making one or two really GREAT products?

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:40PM (#32856134)

    Correction: "What Nokia Must Do To Compete With Apple and Android in US Smartphones"

    For non-smartphones especially around the world, both Apple and Android do not have much of a presence compared to Nokia

  • by JesseL (107722) * on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:43PM (#32856176) Homepage Journal

    I guess you missed the first sentence of the article.

    Nokia still sells more phones than Samsung, LG, and Research in Motion (RIM) put together, but its inability to produce high-margin, high-end smartphones that can compete head to head with Apple's iPhone and Google Android-based smartphones is causing it major problems.

    Companies that want to make money and stay is business tend to have diverse product lines, catering to multiple niches and price points.

  • by MrHanky (141717) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:44PM (#32856182) Homepage Journal

    The N900 is cool, but something of a niche product, and the only one of its kind. It's not for those of us who would consider Maemo but not the 181 grams. The iPhone seems to have aimed for a sweet spot between pocket friendliness and usability, and Android comes in just about every form factor if you have other priorities. Nokia is in trouble if the N900 is the only competitive smartphone they sell.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:46PM (#32856196)
    One only needs to look at price to see why the N900 never caught on. People don't care that its unlocked too much, what they -do- care about is that a price of $650 was something that no one wants to pay for a phone. $100? People would have bought it. $200? People still might have bought it, $650 not subsidized? The average person doesn't want to pay that much for a phone.

    When the average person sees that they can get an iPhone for $200, a BlackBerry for $100, an Android device for $100, a palm device for $100, a Windows Mobile device for $50 or the N900 for $650, people aren't going to buy it. People don't care that it is cheaper because you can use cheaper plans than the iPhone allows, they see an outrageous initial price and won't buy it.

    In all honesty, the only people who buy their phones unsubsidized are geeks like you and me. The average person will never pay $650 outright for a phone.
  • Open phones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:48PM (#32856210) Homepage Journal
    If well is not fully open (the actual cellphone part is somewhat closed source) the N900 could had started a trend of open, very flexible phones, you can even find alternative kernels where you can over/underclock them for special uses. It is still an impressive phone, but is lacking mindshare. It could have got more developers attention, but they didnt put their weight supporting that phone.

    Now they are going for Meego, still having closed components, and the question is for how much they will give to it attention or how soon they will forget about that platform too. They should be more open on them, letting developers fully take advantage of that hardware (i.e. there is an Android port for it, but the cellphone part don't work because being one of the closed components), and see how far it could get... if the phone gets wildly popular because its flexibility, maybe they won't sell so much associated services if what most run is not tied with them, but for sure they will sell a lot of hardware.
  • Re:Favorably? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mickwd (196449) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:50PM (#32856224)

    That's the equivalent of saying a fully-fledged mobile Linux computer (with a really nice front-end) is nothing but a nice browser, while the other platforms do so much more...

  • Re:Favorably? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by migla (1099771) on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:56PM (#32856284)

    I'm not going to argue with you, because you're right.

    I'd just like to point out that marketshare isn't awesomeness.

    In the marketplace, fartapps and other apps are the thing nowadays, sure, but come on, the N900 is basically a debian computer in your pocket that can also (often) make phonecalls.

    Sadly, awesomeness doesn't equal marketshare either, of course.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @06:56PM (#32856286)

    The N900 is a non-factor in the smart phone market. It essentially does not exist outside a few geeks who bought one.

    Their total sales is in the tens of thousands over the *entire time* it has been out. Apple sold 1.7 million iphone-4's in *days* of its launch.

    Nokia is still big, but it's haemorrhaging market share to Apple. They cannot survive that forever.

    Perhaps you missed all the recent financial news of Nokia's profit being hurt by market share losses to Apple, and their self-admission that they do not currently have a competitive smartphone.

  • by davros-too (987732) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:09PM (#32856404) Homepage
    spot on - I nearly bought an N900. If I had I would be seriously pissed off. Maemo is very rough and when I was considering buying the N900 I assumed Nokia would continue to improve it. Instead Maemo has been abandoned. Is Nokia going to stick with meego? Or will it finally push symbian forward? Who knows...

    Vanjoki also addressed recent reports that Nokia would use MeeGo on all future members of the N series. The N8 will be Nokia's only Symbian 3-based smartphone, says Vanjoki. However, a Symbian 4-based N series is a very strong possibility, he says.

    Why would anyone buy an N8 - obviously going to be another orphan.

    Until Nokia actually chooses between symbian and meego as their smartphone platform, I expect that neither will prosper.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:10PM (#32856426) Journal
    No, they are a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. They are the buggy whip maker laughing at car sales in 1890. There are already android phones that will be given away at no direct cost with a contract. Their cost will come down, and fill all of those niches where nokia is today.
  • why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yyxx (1812612) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:29PM (#32856572)

    Nokia makes great hardware, but they obviously have problems putting together a good UI or development platform. They are unlikely to come up with something better than Android, Chrome, or iOS.

    So what Nokia should do is ship Android and build whatever software and hardware innovations they want on top of that. I think Nokia Android phones would be spectacular. Symbian^4? Sorry, not interested.

  • by dnaumov (453672) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:41PM (#32856650)

    To expand a bit.

    Nokia is betting the house on Meego. Big time. By announcing that Symbian will no longer be the OS choice for their top-end smartphones in the future, Nokia has essentially cannibilized the sales of their upcoming flagship - the Nokia N8. The N8 is actually a very decent device and it's going to be competitively priced, but they have not only failed to gain any major mindshare for it so far via very lackluster pre-launch marketing, they have now essentially buried it by announcing that Symbian is now officially a low-to-mid phone system.

  • Re:Favorably? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pax681 (1002592) on Friday July 09, 2010 @07:58PM (#32856752)

    You wrote: "The only fix for Nokia now is to go Android, then the fact they make nice hardware means something again.". Nokia has been well known for making good quality phones, but this is not the reality any more. Hasn't been for past 2-3 years. Flagship product N97 had so many flaws you can not even list them here. Do a google search. N900's hardware has been a nightmare! Just browse talk.maemo.org and you will see why if you are not aware already. Nokia phones used to be good quality phones some 2-3 years ago, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case any more.

    i have said it before and i'll say it again

    the N900 is a sweet smartphone.. i LOVE mine.

    Nokia were VERY up front when they released it saying that maemo was "stage 4 of 5" and that it wasn't a phone that was for everyone. it was very much a niche of a niche phone.

    the ovi store to be quite frank ISN'T where you get yer apps.. you get them direct to your phone from repositories. these can be accessed simply by adding them to your phone settings

    check here for the settings [thenokiablog.com]

    also you will find that maemo on the N900 is soon to undergo a change in that it will be going MeeGo - in a sense.

    it's still going to have the debian based maemo under the bonnet and then the Meego UI.

    Full on MeeGo is Fedora under the bonnet

    how many of the people currently slagging off the N900 have actually had hands on experience with it? not too many i would hazard a guess

  • by dbIII (701233) on Friday July 09, 2010 @08:35PM (#32857006)
    Go on then - in what way is the hardware crappy? I would be interested to know while my N900 still has a high resale value and can still sell it if it really is crappy. Convince me.
  • I don't know if you've noticed this, but the capabilities of technology tend to filter done the price scale rather quickly. 2010's $500 device is 2012's $100 device is 2014's "get two free when you switch to our network" device. It won't be long before just about every phone for sale is a smart phone.

    By one standard, almost every phone sold today already is a smart phone. Somewhere along the line, a funny thing happened, and "Smartphone" got redefined to only refer to the highest end phones available at the moment, with what would have been a smartphone the year before now being called something like a "Featurephone."

    There will always be some sort of market for high end $500+ devices, but as you point out, it'll just get harder and harder to justify spending that much on a mobile device when the lesser, cheaper models can do so much.

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Friday July 09, 2010 @09:09PM (#32857212)

    You took the words out of my mouth.

    If Nokia put together a team of 500 to focus exclusively on Maemo (not this Meego junk they're moving to), they could obsolete all other phone OSes within a year. Frankly, all Maemo needs is a reskin (too dark), better priority and swap management, X enhancements (smoother transitions), a simplified SDK for Windows users, and advertisement. The apps will come, especially since so many are potentially available as a direct port.

    The n900 is the best technology thing I've ever owned... it would be a tragic loss if they abandoned it.

  • Re:why bother? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kangsterizer (1698322) on Friday July 09, 2010 @09:12PM (#32857224)

    they're too much ego for this i think

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 09, 2010 @10:27PM (#32857532)

    The article mentions lack of developer interest in Nokia's Ovi store, which is failing because there aren't very many users on it. This is because using the Ovi store requires surfing the web, cumbersome authentication, no downloading of free apps without a login, bad search, and other user interface fuckups. It's slow, it's cumbersome, it's confusing and it's not even used by Nokia. Handset integration is nonexistent.

    Until the Ovi store works as simply as the Android store (ie. gets integrated with their handsets), most users won't bother with it.
    And since no users bother with it, no developers will, either.

    There are big bucks to be made elsewhere, and they don't require deep knowledge of Symbian landmines to develop for.

  • by moogied (1175879) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:29AM (#32857952)
    Actually I find that the current market has disapproved your assumption that price and capability play a role in the purchase. The iPhone does less and costs more then most smart phones and it sells like mad.
  • by vlueboy (1799360) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:33AM (#32857972)

    I don't know if you've noticed this, but the capabilities of technology tend to filter done the price scale rather quickly. 2010's $500 device is 2012's $100 device is 2014's "get two free when you switch to our network" device. It won't be long before just about every phone for sale is a smart phone.

    Pricewise, I beg to differ. The first android phone is barely 2 years old [amazon.com]. Apparently it's impossible to find after its price was slashed in half last year [pcworld.com] to $99 (with a contract). Very few models get to become venerable AND remain in circulation like the Motorolla Rzr. Meaning, we rarely see tried models for cheap prices on the streets. Even when the inevitable good phone arrives, companies realize that phasing them out is good to maintain high profit margins. Exhibit A: the yearly iPhone rehash.

  • by Casandro (751346) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @01:07AM (#32858102)

    The N900 doesn't even try to compete with Apple and Android offerings, it's essentially a desktop computer in a small case. It essentially runs a flavour of Debian. (yes, you do have apt-get on those devices)

    Now the next step would be to encourage more mobile phone vendors to do the same.

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