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« Why 'Mobile First' - Eric Schmidt the (outgoing) CEO of Google gives 10 reasons why | Main | Undesirable at Any Price? What happened to Nokia, who invented the smartphone »

January 27, 2011



Before you get to the Symbian number analysis, let me preempt you and offer my $0.02; Nokia is suffering in smartphones because the user experience of even the latest Symbian incarnation is far behind competition. Exaggerating only slightly, developers have long ago lost all interest in Symbian, and consumers who try other platforms are now following suit. Very few people who have switched from Nokia to, say, HTC or Apple have switched back. The most common statement I hear is "Why didn't I switch much earlier?!".

Even worse, Nokia still doesn't have a credible plan for MeeGo. Their flagship platform is a badly leaking, even sinking, ship and the lifeboats are still in the workshop. Not exactly a brilliant position..

It's funny reading the Finnish media's reactions to the results; they focus primarily on the reduced profit with few mentioning the smartphone sales numbers. Many are also trying to grab to as many positives as they can find ("NSN beats revenue estimates by far!", "Nokia still ahead of Apple's phones in revenue!" etc) *sigh*


Sami, I don't think that user experience is the main culprit here. It is definitely important and if Nokia have gotten it right one year ago it may have been enough.

Now the problem is that Nokia's smartphones don't capture the imagination of users and developers anymore. It is not going to be enough to just do good UX anymore. Apple and Android have have covered this base long ago and playing catch-up is not going to get Nokia very far.

Nokia needs to come out with something innovative that matters to users. A 12MPix camera does not matter enough over 8Mpix cam.

If they come out with an elegant water resistant (and rugged) device - that will be a block buster (Moto Defy doesn't really qualify, it has to be something like the iPhone 3/4 or Nexus One, but water resistant).

Another great feature is a good transflective screen.

If they do just an OK device, something similar to the iPhone or the top-tier Android devices, then they need a superb marketing campaign.


As a Nokia fan, I HATE to say this, Nokia is in trouble, big TROUBLE.

I walked into a carphone warehouse shop in the City of London yesterday and overhead the sales assistant advising a Nokia customer to choose an iPhone or Android device over the Nokia Symbian^3 C7 phone as Nokia's UI was outdated and available apps meagre compared to the competition.

The N8 is great hardware and Symbian^3 is a rock solid OS but the interface - ugh so UGLY. I use a Nokia 5800XM (for the excellent sound quality) and there is not much difference b/w its home interface (same old stupid Options and Exit soft buttons and clunky menus) and that of N8. I nearly puked at the sight of this and could not even bear to check out the famed camera. Then there is the issue of core apps, the browser on Symbian^3 devices is such a joke, I cant believe Nokia approved that garbage for release. I mean at a time when the smartphone is more about software than hardware, what daft manager at Nokia approved of this dated browser which pales in comparison to the competition as to be from the dark ages. I tried launching a web page on the C7 and it crashed ingloriously. I wont even mention the virtual keyboard - are these people at Nokia sick or what.

Now heres a mystery, I also have the N900 and its absolutely fab and shows what Nokia can do when serious - trust me Apple and Google are no match for Nokia even in the high end software department. Maemo OS is excellent and its browser is without equal. The UI is different - so much so that Google's Android honeycomb borrows a lot from it (virtual buttons etc). I await the entrance of Meego devices and hope Nokia accelerate the pace. Nokia's feature phones are excellent too,the c3-02 is about the sleekest phone I've seen in a while. So its begs the question, why not play to your strengths Nokia or are you playing a game here ?.

Tomi, with due respect, you don't seem to relaize the magnititude of the paradigm shift that has occured in the smartphone realm; its all about software now not hardware. The days of hardware heavy hitters like the fabled E90 is OVER. Nokia should focus on software, they have the best hardware. Fixing Symbian UI must be priority and they should stop skimping on memory and CPU (Symbian is very efficient but at this stage of the game, every little helps)

Nokia will keep the diehards like myself who actually value hardware but it will have a hard time attracting the iOs and android crowd.

I am sticking with Nokia as in my opinion they make the best hardware - RF, camera, durability etc and core software (Symbian multitasking flogs iOS and Android like they stole something). All they need to do is fix the UI which is all the more baffling why they cant just do so when Opera and other third party vendors continue to produce good looking apps on Symbian.

What an ENIGMA Nokia is !!. Tomi, what happened to the Sisu ?


A feature that will help distinguish Nokia's platform (one that captured my developer imagination) is a bundled free map SDK with every smartphone. A map component that is guaranteed to work offline is a powerful thing.


And to piggy back on what Lee said....

A quote from Nokia:

"In addition to great device experiences we must build, capitalize and/or join a competitive ecosystem. The ecosystem approach we select must be comprehensive and cover a wide range of utilities and services that customers expect today and anticipate in the future."

I along with others have been preaching the "ecosystem" sermon for the longest. The iPod Touch and the iPad both strengthen the iOS/iPhone ecosystem. But just as when anyone brought up profit, this blog is downright hostile to the mention of anything that is not a phone. Android, BlackBerry. and even HP with Palm are all trying to expand their ecosystem to include either tablets and/or phoneless phone equivalents.

I'm still afraid that you're living in a pre-iPhone world if you think hardware is driving sells. It's all about the software. Apple will never release a device less capable than 3GS. Apple may go down market but only when technology allows them to create a good experience on lower cost devices.

Jouko Ahvenainen

Tomi, excellent analysis as always. But I must disagree one sentence: "why Nokia is doing suddenly so badly". I think this is not suddenly, this is a trend and development that has happened longer time, but because of their strong position and distribution channels etc, it has take quite long time that it is really significant in numbers.

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This isn't just about Wall Street and such -- this was about Nokia maintaining it's market share by cutting it's margins. That's a sign of a weak product that HAS to eventually affect their market share.

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