Nokia Needs to Re-Invent themselves

One of the greatest mysteries of all time is the unexplained fact of how dinosaurs vanished from the face of the earth. It has been theorised that a giant asteroid hit the earth and they vanished. Darwinian theory of evolution is clear and without malice. It  was emphatic about one fact. Dinosaurs failed to evolve in comparison to nimble footed terapods and vanished because they could not adpat to the same ecosystem.

In the cut throat competition of smart phones, Nokia is finding itself to be a tech dinosaur.

Truth be told,  they sell more phones than all others trying to get a toehold in the market and the unsubstantiated claims are that one in every third phone being sold is a Nokia handset.  They have an astounding 40+% of the global market share. Coming from a small nation, that is a huge achievement. Apart from these delicious statistics, Nokia has made some in roads in smart phone market without really making a dent in it.

Yet, they are being drubbed and grovelled in the mud because they lacks the “killer phone”.  All they need is one handset. One handset that challanges the Jobsian “Jesus Phone” which for some reason has the remarkable capability to turn heads and make people swoon like kids on a day out. One phone that is “must have”.

Sadly, the boffins don’t realise, or they don’t want to. Their strategy to counter the onslaught of the iPhone borders on the insane. Their minds muddled with lack of any clarity of thought. They are acting like wild geese let loose out without any unity of purpose.

Another truth be told. I own two Nokia smart phones. The earlier generation Nokia E63 with a standard set of features. The newer one for my better half, a Nokia E72. Yet cruising along the “newer version” made things apparent as clear as daylight. It has the SAME jaded menu; oh well nearly the same albeit with a slightly faster processor.

I do fail to understand the key USP of a Nokia. In India, we are truly ham handed by a “good” smartphone. Seriously! At the lower end of this bracket, we have companies like Micromax and Intex which are garnering and cutting out a clear space for themselves. They have blatantly ripped off the operating system from others and give equivalent “features” for a far lesser price so that the plebians can afford to flaunt it. As far as the form factor goes, most of the people are content in “owning” it; but give them a choice and no one would ever want to stay with them.

At the higher end of the range, Blackberry’s dominate the game. Recently there were a spate of advertisements to offer “cheaper” Blackberry’s but then they are not a patch on the “higher end models” and instead you would be ending up with a “blackberry brick”. F*** these morons but then they have a product to sell and may be entice some suckers to part with Dad’s money. Surprisingly, they lack a Wifi chip, a decent GPS and for the price of a Nokia E63 can’t even offer a decent 3G connectivity. Still, they dominate the “upper end of the spectrum”; relatively speaking.

This leaves Nokia rather no where else except in the middle. Here is what Nokia trying to carve out a mindspace in the cut throat market. It launches new products WITHOUT beefing up the user experience. So much so that the upcoming Nokia N8 is reportedly getting without it’s Symbian genes. With an atrocious marked up price to boot. I do find it surprising that marking out the price in a sensitive market should at least involve some application of rational thought. Why would anyone pay 20k+ for an “underpowered jaded handset”? Interestingly, Nokia has responded to the new flavour of the season; dual SIM hadsets belatedly. Much belatedly when most of the new manufacturers managed to sell them bucket loads.

Sheesh. Symbian is venerable. It’s one of the oldest operating systems for mobiles. Yet, you cannot upgrade it over the air (EDITOR: although this does works on the newer symbian phones, if the firmware hits the Indian market – months after the actual release!). One has to depend on the crappy Nokia after-sales idiots or utilise Nokia PC suite which does not work on any other platform than Windows. For the brave and hardened souls who wish to tinker with their applications or the OS, there is no alternative. Either you bang your phone on the wall or your head.

Apple, by default, is now one of the world’s largest sellers for music and applications. Most people criticize them because they have a stranglehold over it’s market. Why blame them? It’s their place. They are most welcome to do whatever they want to do with it. If you don’t agree with their policies, you are most welcome to fug off! Contrast the Ovi Store and if it has to win the prize for HOW NOT to  sell applications, it would win hands down without any challenge.

I have broken my head over the Ovi Store trying to figure out the mundane applications. The sad fact is that despite being the world’s largest markets in terms of sheer growth and volumes, Nokia does not have services for India at time of this writing. I cannot buy any application, use any application equivalent to iPhone nor work around with them. It has to take Nokia the collective intelligence of a thousand brain dead morons to come up with such an idea to NOT to make it work.

Compare and contrast with an intelligent idea of having Nokia N900 as an Internet tablet which also works as a phone. I was excited about Meego as the Linux shell for a smart hardware. Yet again, if you look at it closely, I  fail to understand the need to create something new from a scratch when it would have been quite possible to “hack” or reverse engineer an established distro like Ubuntu with it’s awesome ecosystem of developers. They could have released the SDK for “optimised smartphone applications” and my favourite applications on my Ubuntu laptop would have run natively on my phone with possibility of creating a uniform synced experience.

For all practical purposes, Nokia has released the source code for Symbian in the wild; with the grand idea of people jumping on their ship and coding like wild nuts for them. It wasn’t so and now it seems that upcoming Symbian 3 and version 4 would be relegated to the “lower end” phones while Meego(as reworked Linux hack) would find it’s way for the “elite”. Not a smart thing to do.

I hate to do it but it would be worthwhile idea to look at Apple’s strategy. They have a  coherent platform, a great ecosystem of applications and atleast iPhone can be synced with Ubuntu although it uses a lot of “hacks” with older versions of distro (Ubuntu 10.04 does so out of box though- pure awesomeness). My Nokia E63 still sucks as far as cross platform syncing is concerned.

Nokia needs a new thought content. A new idea. And execution of the same.

Otherwise, it should be content in knowing the aforementioned story. It’s grown to a size of giant tottering dinosaur. It’s end may well be near.

3 thoughts on “Nokia Needs to Re-Invent themselves”

  1. I think Nokia strategy in terms of marketing and selling is to hit the “Sweet Spot” that is where can they can sell more and make huge profit, that is the sub 10k phones…. and I have no reason to believe they would ever change this strategy… its all about market share and making money, which they are doing well

  2. Nokia has to start re-thinking their strategy for India, especially. Coming out with devices late into the market and having it priced higher than it's sold outside, is not really going in their favor.

    The push Google is giving for Android devices into the Indian market at around Nokia's sweet spot also is going to be a threat for them.

    Let's see how things turn out.

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