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Nokia. A Company in Denial.

Arrogant. Disoriented. Unfocused. Accurate characterisations of Nokia? Perhaps. Still, who’d have thought in the early 2000s that the market leader of mobile phones, one of the most innovative companies in its field that owned the European market would be the dying king of the 2010s; high volume sales of silly feature phones, low profit margins, a chaotic software ecosystem, little to no mindshare in the most important, lucrative segments. Perpetually in denial about its ageing Symbian stack, its schizophrenic Maemo/Meego stack, its unstable, ever-changing APIs and the amateurish, mediocre, unpolished user-experience its products provide. So many unappealing devices. A nervous acquisition of Navteq in 2008 for $8.1bn upon that the company never capitalised, while Google and Tomtom keep offering less while gaining so much more from their users (e.g. Ovi Maps has had free navigation for a while and no one seems to care). Its repeated failed attempts to create a mobile service ecosystem/platform (n-gage, MOSH and now Ovi).

Prediction: With the N8 not being out until later this year and already looking like a device that should’ve been out in 2009, Nokia’s future certainly looks bleaker than it thinks. Unless it wakes up, ditches Symbian for good and makes Meego something more than the mickey-mouse platform it currently is soon, I can’t see how it will ever manage to compete with the super-polished iOS or the lightspeed-evolving Android. (The verdict is still out on Windows Phone 7)

4 Responses to “Nokia. A Company in Denial.”

  1. Nikos Kouremenos says:

    you sound to americanized. In terms of FEATURES what does a Nokia smartphone lack that iPhone or and Android Phone (btw which one? which version??) doesn’t? I would like to see that. Instead of ditching Ovi Maps which rock the world and Ovi store.

    And all that from a NEVER OWNED A NOKIA PHONE user that is just disgusted to NEVER see Nokia on TechCrunch and the rest US idiots.

  2. cosmix says:

    Well, I’ve had a number of Nokia phones, including ‘flagship’ products over the years and I’ve dabbled with Symbian development ever since its early days.

    In terms of (software) applications, Nokia smartphones are ridiculously deprived as they lack a coherent software ecosystem. This puts developers (like us) off, which makes the situation worse. As far as the user experience is concerned, they are just horribly outdated; the reasons? Symbian, an esoteric, eccentric remnant of late 1990s EPOC32 technology, Maemo/Meego a platform that’s still in the making, a platform that’s constantly changing and that few developers would spend time, money and resources developing for (right now that is, for Nokia plans to have Qt all over the place soon), a platform that’s in many ways dated before it’s even out.

    I don’t follow TC that often anymore, so I don’t know whether Nokia is featured there. Frankly, I don’t care whether they feature it or not. Last, if I were you I’d try decoupling technology from race; that Nokia is failing in the States has little to do with some inherent ‘hatred’ of the brand across the pond. Becoming a global success is a hard thing, it’s down to a number of business factors that Nokia is mostly responsible for, in addition to the actual technology and products (this post was about the technology) not Nokia’s business acumen. I cannot see how the post makes me ‘sound to americanized’. Your comment, on the other hand, is as racist as they get: you mention the US as if its the fault of the people living there that Nokia is failing. It isn’t. It’s because Nokia’s products in the smartphone segment suck and have been sucking for quite a while, for the reasons I outline above. You may disagree with that statement and it’s only my opinion, but please refrain from bringing race into this.

  3. psybases says:

    I believe that Nokia has realized that its S60 platform is too complex to be adopted by developers on the large scale, (like Android and iPhone) and tries to perform a paradigm shift by pushing QT on the front.
    The good point is that QT has a superb API that is relatively simple and fast.
    I have a feeling that finally QT will save Nokia’s from descending.
    Time will tell…

  4. cosmix says:

    Re: Symbian, I largely agree with you although it’s not just application development complexity that makes Symbian problematic (I prefer obsolete) as a smartphone platform.

    Now, Qt is great, but not necessarily good enough. Besides the inherent complexity of C++ programming (which will most certainly put some people off), the issues arising from the fact that much of Qt’s original design doesn’t really support modern, touch-based smartphone interfaces and that the competition is either already there (iOS) or getting there fast (Android) may mean a properly architectured Meego with Qt may be too little, too late. Given that a finalised Qt-based Maemo/Meego is still nowhere near completion and you see why I’m skeptical.

    I’m sure Nokia will be around for many years to come, but the sooner they realise that they’re not the king anymore the better. I think they’re slowly getting there, but I’m afraid that it may already be too late.

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