Nokia has finally reacted and announces a device to compete with the iPhone. The N97 has a beautiful touchscreen and a sliding qwerty keyboard. From the video clip Nokia posted in YouTube you can notice that Nokia bets on widgets to make the interface even more touch-friendly. One surprising thing about the video is that apart from widgets it only shows how the N97 plays video and music controlled by a soft touch interface. No demo on web browsing experience, nor on Nokia Maps powered by A-GPS, nor on any other feature that outperforms iPhone.
The device has 32GB of internal memory, a micro SD slot, and features a mini-USB interface, which already signals how Nokia is giving up on forcing users to buy proprietary Nokia cables and chargers. This shows how good (and necessary) competition is to avoid market leaders to abuse their position, as Nokia has been doing with their accessories (and Apple still does).
All in all, a quite decent device compared to previous Nokia phones. But at the expected 550 EUR price, is it cooler than iPhone? Furthermore, what new iPhone and Android models will we have by the second half of 2009, when the N97 hits the market?
Market leaders tend to be slower to respond to disruptions, usually after wasting months downplaying the disruptive competitor. Has Nokia reacted soon enough to avoid losing its throne?
Only one quarter after launching the 3G iPhone, Apple is ranked third by revenues among smartphone vendors, just behind Nokia and Samsung, and ahead of SonyEricsson and LG.
In Steve Jobs words, Apple’s mobile phone strategy focuses on “software and user experience“. It is the usability, stupid. That is the magic why a phone without MMS, video recording, videocall or a memory card slot still rocks.
Nokia downplayed Apple’s impact in the mobile phone market when iPhone was launched. Now the financial numbers confirm the revolution anticipated by all the headlines and hype iPhone generated.
Anyone bet that Android and iPhone will outsell Symbian by end 2009?
Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote it in many of their marketing best-sellers: “In the long run, every market becomes a two horse race”. Jack Welch, legend ex-CEO of GE, made popular his rule of closing every business unit where GE was not number one or number two.
Mobile handsets market is not different, and in each segment expect in the long-run a one-two race. Here are my bets for the winning horses:
Business segment: Blackberry and a distant second Windows Mobile. RIM’s devices are trusted by companies to provide secure access to email, intranet, enterprise directories, sync with MS Exchange calendar and address book. Not to name a great user experience for mobile email. This segment is an opportunity for Microsoft to extend their dominant position in the desktop and email solutions for enterprises. This is Microsoft’s only chance to secure a position in the mobile handsets (read GigaOm views on Windows Mobile). RIM’s increasing arrogance could open an opportunity for Microsoft, provided they can learn to play humble.
Personal SmartPhone segment: iPhone and Android. These two platforms are in a different league (read TechCrunch comparative) due to their coolness, rich applications and engaging user experience. With new Android models coming to close the beauty gap with the iPhone, these two are going to be the choice for people that want to enjoy the web, cool apps and multimedia everywhere. Enterprises will be reluctant to buy these gadgets for employees for some years.
Mobile Phones segment: Nokia and Samsung. This is the segment of telephones with a dial-pad, a poor camera, some multimedia features and packaged in a candy bar or clam-shell form. Still, essentially telephones with a dial-pad. Low cost, emerging countries and laggards. Nokia retains leadership. Before the Chinese vendors come, Samsung could be a good candidate for a second place, before Sony Ericsson and Motorola, provided they all survived with some other Android handsets in the other two segments.
[…] the vast majority of people (84%) say they check their PDA’s just before going to bed and as soon as they wake up, 85% say they sneak a peak at their PDA in the middle of the night, and 80% say they check their e mail before morning coffee. A whopping 87% of professionals bring their PDA into the bedroom, and in what may or may not be a related finding, more than one-third of folks surveyed (35%) say if forced to choose, they’d pick their PDA over their spouse!
I double checked to make sure the report was not issued on April Fools. The study does not provide information either of what time of the day (or night) the survey was taken, or whether respondents passed any drink test. Maybe a Mail Goggles test should have been run before accepting answers…
It is not in the report, but I am sure a high percentage would admit they also hide from their spouses to check email furtively during weekends and holidays. Isn’t that kind of cheating?
On a less ludicrous note, the report also highlights the freedom that these devices provide:
New technology continues to transform the way we live and work with 85% of U.S. professionals surveyed said that because of new technology, they feel compelled to be connected to work 24/7 and 81% say they work harder than they did five years ago.
[…] 85% say that PDA’s and cell phones allow them to spend more time out of the office and 79% believe they can be just as productive outside of the office […]. Most people feel that technology gives them more quality time and flexibility with family and friends (84%) and 77% say their PDA helps them enjoy life more.
Blackberries and other smartphones with mobile email are great productivity tools and have really changed our life for better (addictions aside). The truth is once you get used to Blackberry, you can not leave without it. Well, isn’t that the definition of addiction?
Smartphone market grew 15.7% compared to last year.
Nokia remains the number one vendor, but it is losing market share from 50.8% in 2007 to 47.5% in 2008.
RIM is the fastest growing vendor , more than doubling their market share from 8.9% to 17.4%.
HTC also doubled its share from 2.2% to 4.1% (cosnidering only handsets sold on HTC brand, and moved to third position.
On the Operating System:
Symbian lost market share from 65.6% to 57.1%.
RIM increased its share by 126% in line with the share of its handsets.
Windows Mobile market share grew 21% to reach 12% of the smartphone OS.
Despite Q2 was not strong for iPhone -as they cleaned the channel before the 3G iPhone launch in July- it still surpassed Palm OS in market share.
In summary, Nokia is clearly losing ground to Blackberry and Windows Mobile. After the launch of the 3G iPhone in Q3, expect to see a bigger hit in Nokia’s share in Q3. Not only the iPhone will eat market share. Microsoft’s mobile OS is powering most of the nicest touch-screen models brought by LG, HTC and Samsung to compete with Apple’s phone. This will surely hurt Nokia’s share too.
But the main surprise is the growth of RIM in Q2, even before their new Bold was available. Mobile email is showing to be the killer app, and RIM’s usability for email is superb. And do not forget RIM makes money not just from the handsets but also for the email service they host and the server licenses they sell to enterprises. That is extra cash (and margin) to boost their R&D. Something Nokia might be lacking.
To make matters worse for Nokia, a newcomer will soon make appearance in the charts: Android. With so much competition, do not be surprise if we see Nokia lose their crown even earlier than forecasted by TechCrunch.
Nokia announced today a bid to acquire 100% of Symbian. Nokia already owns 48% of the shares, and would purchase the remaining shares for 264 million euro, from their current Symbian partners Sony Ericsson, Telefonaktiebolaget, LM Ericsson, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Siemens International Holding and Samsung Electronics.
Even though it may seem that Nokia wants to reinforce Symbian, with plans even to make it open source, the truth is this operation may benefit even more Sony Ericsson, Panasonic or Samsung that now will be free to go Android without conflicting interests. In fact, Samsung is already a member of the Open Handset Alliance.
As we mentioned before, Nokia Symbian usability is very poor when compared to iPhone, Blackberry, Android or even Windows Mobile. And this is also affecting Nokia brand.
As well as making it open source, Nokia should better rethink its Mobile OS user interface, or they might get into trouble as Android will target low-end handsets too, eating from Nokia’s last stronghold.
It is interesting how Japanese operators manage the release of handsets with a seasonal renewal, like in the fashion industry. Not only that, but the handset as a fashion item is becoming a reality: e.g. Softbank has reached an agreement with Tiffany’s for exclusive designs.
If this trend goes on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see soon mobile phones being presented in a runway as a fashion show.
Is this an specific behavior in Japan? or just an anticipation in Japan of what is coming for the rest of the world?