Tag Archives: Nokia

N97: Too Little, Too Late?

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?

Nokia N97 Specs, extracted from CrunchGear:

  • Size: 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm* *18.25 mm at camera area
  • Weight: Approx. 150 g
  • Memory: Up to 48GB (32 GB on-board memory, plus 16GB expansion via microSD memory card slot)
  • Display: 3.5 inch TFT with up to 16 million colors nHD 16:9 widescreen (640×360 pixels)
  • Talk time: Up to 320 min (3G), 400 min (GSM)
  • Standby time: Up to 400 hrs (3G), 430 hrs (GSM)
  • Video playback: Up to 4.5 hours (offline mode)
  • Music playback: Up to 37 hours (offline mode)
  • Image capture: Up to 5 megapixels (2584 x 1938) JPEG/EXIF (16.7 million/24-bit color)

Apple Vs. Nokia: Less is More

While Nokia posted a 30.5% drop in earnings in the quarter ending on 30 September, Steve Jobs proudly announced to analysts that 6.9 million 3G iPhone units were sold in the same quarter, outselling  even RIM’s Blackberry 6.1 million units.

While Nokia blames price cutting for their profit decline, Apple says that their iPhone helped push net income up 26% to $1.14 billion.

While Nokia sells their phones worldwide in more than 140 countries, iPhone is currently sold in only 51, targeting 70 by year-end.

While 159 different Symbian models were shipped in the previous quarter, only one Apple model was shipped.

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?

Handsets Two Horse Race

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.

Which ones are your bets?

Who is the new Smartphone King?

Gartner published a few days ago their assessment of the Smartphone market in Q2 2008. These are the highlights by handset maker:

  • 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 to Get Full Control of Symbian

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.

Nokia Still Don’t Get it

 “It is the usability, stupid.”

In essence, Nokia keeps developing mobile phones, when younger generations do not care about a phone but about communications in an ample sense (IM, Facebook, web, etc) and multimedia (music, music , music, clips and music). And they do not want multimedia to be a poor media player added on a phone with not even a plug for a standard earbuds stereo jack.

Examples of usability for Nokia phones (and most traditional mobile phone vendors):
1) Why insist on a dialpad inherited from old telephones, when most calls are initiated by a click in the address book?
2) Why is the main input interface still based on a numeric keypad, when most of the inputs are actually text (SMS, URLs, IM, address book names,…)?

Blackberry got it right from the start, as any Blackberry user will confirm. This is THE device for corporate email. Easy to read and navigate through emails, easy to write with the keyboard, easy to search and file messages while wirelessly synchronizing with your inbox, calendar and address book on your laptop/server. Even Windows Mobile did a better job than Symbian in usability, phone stability problems and high prices aside.

iPhone has definitively raised the bar, and every one is expecting Android to follow the path, only with a wider hardware variety from the Open Handset Alliance vendors.

“The innovation […] is not that they let us do something new, but that they allow us to do what we already do better, more often, in more places and more quickly.” -Joshua Porter

Blackberry and iPhone definitively got it right.

Nokia keeps trying and now Comes with Music, to counter-attack the iPhone-iTunes duo. Will that be enough for music fans to choose an N81 over an iPhone? I doubt it. Nokia’s market share will be sustained by low cost phones, specially in Asian developing countries. (That assuming that Apple does not halve iPhone price next year into $99…)

 

My Next Phone

Nokia must be getting more and more worried.

Apple, a new entrant in the market, has stolen from Nokia the top position for high-end phones in consumers minds. The revolutionary iPhone might not have yet a market share comparable to Nokia, but it is definitively the phone we all dream of. The worst is that people has realized how poor was, and still is, Nokia phones usability, and that hurts their image.

And now Android, without a single unit in the market, is generating a hype bigger than iPhone did before launch. And the hype is well deserved. Watch the video:

If handset vendors manage to get Android units in volumes by end of the year, this is going to be a big Xmas hit!