Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nokia and The Future

Historically Nokia have always been the leader in the mobile phone market. They have nearly always had the largest range of phones, and have catered for everyone's wants and needs from high-tech high-end smartphones to basic call and text handsets. Basically Nokia made a lot of really clever moves early on in the early days of the mobile boom. Not bad for a company who's primary business as rubber and lumber!

Then something happened. Something changed in the mobile market and Nokia started to lose that historic first choice preference and users started looking to other handsets. The best example of this is the US mobile market. The US mobile market is probably the largest mobile market in the west, and certainly the most important.

Most articles I've read lately would have you believe that Nokia's single major failing has nothing to do with handsets or technology. As a provider Nokia has a huge suite of mobile devices. Nokia is falling down in the US due to a failure to partner with the US mobile networks, and to be honest Nokia's relationship with US mobile networks is well documented. But there's more to it then that. People want smaller, smarter, faster and completely integrated devices. They don't want to have to carry a laptop, a phone, a music player, a camera, an organiser etc. They want to have a device that offers all of these things. Nokia, however, are still approaching their devices from the position of building phones.

The most exciting thing to come to the mobile market in some time, is with out doubt the iPhone. The most important thing to realise about the iPhone is that, contrary to what its name would have you believe, it is not in fact a phone at all. The iPhone is a mobile mini computer that offers the ability to make phone calls, among a host of features.

Building phones is what is truly holding Nokia back. So how will Nokia effect such a change? How will Nokia achieve their goal of becoming "the largest interactive media network in the world."

Nokia's campaigns over the last year have all aimed to grow social media presence, facilitated by conversation. Nokia want people to use their technology to express and broadcast themselves. To support this, Nokia launched a web service called Ovi. Ovi allows Nokia users to get apps like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo for their Nokia phone. While this is far more expansive for smartphones such as the Nokia N97, there are options for even the simplest handset. Nokia have also made major inroads to developing their music offering. Fast Company's article Nokia Rocks the World: The Phone King's Plan to Redefine Its Business gives an overview of Nokia's recent musical advance and the following interview...

So mission accomplished? An app platform in place, partnerships established, advertising ready, and a strategy thought out - Nokia stand poised to take over the world once and for all?

Well not quite. Unfortunately there is a lot of fine tuning still to do for Nokia to accomplish their goal. Nokia's platform, Ovi, is far from brilliant. It is unintuitive and lacks any sort of dynamicism. Coupled with this, the efforts that Nokia are making "to counter music piracy and offer an easy music access service", don't actually address the fact that people want to listen to music on a music player, not on a phone. This brings me back to the point that Nokia are failing to recognise exactly what their competition is really offering.

Once Nokia realise that they need to make more then just phones, they may stand a chance of regaining the premier position they once held for mobile devices.

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