Monday, April 19, 2004

Depths of despair for Nokia

Much news in the last few days about Nokia getting its estimates wrong, not seeing the clamshell market as important and generally not selling enough phones. Their stock is down from getting on to $25 to as low as $14 (with a bounce to $15 and change today, in a generally up market). Back in February 2003 I wrote that Nokia had lost my custom for several reasons. My main problem was that it's too hard to move phones: Given that the UK market looks pretty saturated, the odds are that most people are either going through or are about to go through their first upgrade - colour screens, polyphonics, cameras etc are all beckoning. I imagine that few of them will have stored all of their contacts on the SIM (which is no use if you store more than one phone number per person), many will have figured out predictive text and so filled up their T9 dictionaries and they'll want to move phones easily and quickly. Good luck to all those who try Looking at the mis-steps Nokia has made, it seems clear that this is still part of the problem. Nokia used to keep people attached to their brand because they had the best interface - quite simply, it was just so good (especially compared to Motorola and Ericsson who I found unusable at the time). With new features on phones, people found that the interface was changing anyway, so there was nothing to hold them to Nokia - so they moved. Nokia failed, I believe, to give people a reason to stay. If you'd bought a new phone and when you first powered it on there was a green button that said "press this to take what was on your old phone and move it to this one", then you can believe me that I'd be interested. I think the clamshell argument is secondary - Nokia haven't introduced cool designs (I've seen people laughing out loud when they play with the new one in the store); they haven't kept up to date with proper smartphones (the Treo and the P900 are streaks ahead of the 6600); they've been slow with the sleek, silver (i.e. not plastic) lookin phones that companies like Samsung have filled the shelves with. In short, Nokia may well be the new Motorola - missing a key trend and failing to recover. I'm no fan of 3G but Nokia's entry there looks unworkable. If Sony Ericsson ship a P900 that works on 3G I may well make the move, but right now I love having one device that has my calendar, task list and all my contacts in it as well as being a workable MP3 player and not too bad at games - there's no need for me to move to two devices again. And Nokia don't seem to have anything in the pipeline that would tempt me to their way of thinking either.

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