Tag Archives: usability

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?

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…)