What can you still expect from Nokia?

I hava admired some things Nokia has done and been a critic for numerous things the company had screwed up royally. For some time I really had high hopes and expectations for the company – as they really have had the potential to change the world for the better and build amazing mobile devices and services. And for every missed opportunity I have had the energy and hope to get excited about the remaining potential. These days I am mostly seeing potential in postscripts and case studies written about Nokias destruction from financially strong market lagger into financially weak market loser.

Microsoft partnership sounded like a kiss of death, but I tried to stay positive about it. In theory it could have been a great idea and it can still have a potential to become something interesting, but it is another idea whether that will help Nokia anymore or whether Nokia still exists by the time WP will be a force in the marketplace. ( What I wrote then: https://huima.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/markets-at-work-and-demise-of-nokia-as-we-knew-it-at-least-for-now/ )

Third ecosystem with true competition to Google and Apple sounds like a good idea, if it is backed by and aligned with the needs of other parties needed to make the ecosystem work and executed well. However people have speculated that this brilliant vision and strategy has not been aligned at all with the needs and wants of different stakeholders in the equation ( see for example this posting about it http://ceklog.kindel.com/2011/12/26/windows-phone-is-superior-why-hasnt-it-taken-off/ ).

Blaming carriers and sales channels ( see for example this ) is a huge signal that the ecosystem is not yet there and just the Nokia brand is not enough to get sales people to want to push those devices – nor consumers to come and demand Lumias. Nokia and Microsoft have spent – I assume enormous amount of – marketing money to make sure that the world knows that Lumias have arrived. But as soon as the paid propaganda and promotions have stopped, market buzz has returned to previous levels. In the end there hasn’t yet been a true desire for the Windows Phone from the marketplace.

Nokia’s tragedy is that they have created really good devices, but Lumias with Windows Phone ecosystem do not yet provide clear competitive advantage or compelling reasons for consumers to choose them over the competition. Great start, but too little and too late. They need to create innovations or story that will set them apart or come in with such force and price points that no-one is willing to pay for competitors product. Smoking competitors with simple tasks is not quite it ( http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/cmpn/smoked-by-windows-phone.aspx ).

At the same time Apple has not needed to improve that much – just gradual improvements and upgrades to the iOS and to the technology. Five years ago iPhone was five years ahead of it’s time ( http://mashable.com/2012/06/16/disappointments-ios-6/ ), now it just is. Apple has it’s proven ecosystem and user base – and until competitors get a compelling comparable ecosystem running, they do not need to publish their next breakthrough innovations or major improvements. After all Apple can boast that they have shared over 5 billion dollars for developers – and developers will know that iOS is a platform to reckon with.

As Nokia has now officially painted themselves into the corner and tied their future to the short term future of Windows Phone, I expect them to be doing one or both of two things:

  1. save money to survive the time ’till there is genuine pull for WP
  2. invest heavily on selected markets to make the desire for WP  come real

Honestly I have my doubts on option 2, as I assume that there is only limited amount of opportunities what Nokia can quickly do within their Windows Phone sandboxes. Nokia could pay and support software developers and publishers to port more applications and services / content to the platform, bundle more software with sold devices and have marketing / community events around devices, but what is their track record so far with those actions? Lot’s of interesting buzz in the web and all, but apparently lackluster sales.

We live in interesting times and apparently really exciting times for anyone connected tightly with Nokia: employee, shareholder or subcontractor. Lumias should get more pull as companies need to upgrade older Symbian phones and as the Sharepoint / Office / Lync -trinity starts to provide real measurable business value, but for consumers it might take a lot more time and promotions before people will make their upgrades or switches from feature phones or competing smart phone platforms.

Windows Phone is not a bad experience already and their ecosystem could be more local than competitive offerings. Nokia and Microsoft should be able to pull it off eventually, if they have enough money to get over the valley of death period.

How long will it take? And how will Nokia come out of it?

Who knows.

 

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