Come July 11th my trusty E61i and I will be en route to Bermuda for the weekend — and it’s probably a good thing: That’s the day Apple starts carpet-bombing 70 markets worldwide with their new iPhone 3G.
The hype is particularly acute here in North America — yes, I’m even guilty of contributing to it myself — and it’s mostly due to the sad state of the mobile marketplace here. First off, we’ve got the two competing and totally incompatible networks of GSM and CDMA. And those pesky carriers, rather than enlighten us about the merits of either one, spend their time and money wooing us into multi-year contracts with zero-dollar handsets.
At least part of the reason that the iPhone is looked upon as such a revolutionary device has got to do with the fact that Apple itself has put a lot of effort into explaining how it works; in comparison the in-store activation of your typical mobile phone account is so byzantine that the hardware itself is almost an afterthought.
In such a hostile environment, can we really blame the average consumer for squealing with delight when they learn that they can make a voice call on their iPhone by clicking on a phone number in its web browser?
It must be especially painful for Nokia, having steadily finessed its S60 platform over the past decade and having a healthy lead in smartphone market share worldwide, yet being all but invisible on this side of the pond.
Well Nokia, you’re in luck, because this S60 Ambassador has got some suggestions to grow your business in the US & A (and therefore Canada as well — we can’t think for ourselves, apparently…)
I. Simplify Hardware
This Eseries/Nseries thing isn’t working. I can understand wanting to cater to the enterprise market, but I’ve yet to see any evidence of a large-scale deployment of Eseries devices anywhere in the world — am I wrong on this? I suspect that RIM has this market pretty much sewn up, so I’d look elsewhere for prospective customers. More on that later…
As an Eseries user I still want to play N-Gage games. And I’m sure there are Nseries users who want a QWERTY keypad, or at least a full-on office suite without having to pay extra for it. If you want to differentiate from your feature phones that’s fine, but can you at least combine E and Nseries into something like the NEOseries, or EON or even ONE? Whatever the name, a single line of flagship devices would do better than splitting up your best work into two streams, if you’re asking me. And you should be.
II. Recognize the Killer App in Software and Services
MOSH, N-Gage, Nokia Music Store, Ovi… And this mystery Nokia Account that I signed up for without having any idea what it’s for — you’re certainly getting an ‘A’ for effort in embracing crowdsourcing and social media. But Nokia, you’re clearly all over the map, and you’re in danger of missing a huge opportunity to eat Apple’s lunch.
Ever since my days with a Danger hiptop I’ve been seeking what I call PIM 2.0, a consumer-friendly version of Microsoft Exchange that works with SyncML. Apple thinks they’ve got it with MobileMe but they’re way off the mark — it costs far too much and supports but a single email address under their own domain.
This is your chance, Nokia, to offer up something better. But here’s the deal:
- It has to be free.
- It has to support multiple POP mail accounts from other domains — bonus points if you can include popular webmail clients like GMail, Hotmail, etc.
- It must also include a Nokia-branded email account — something like “MyNokia.com” would do nicely. This way lots of people get to see your brand name in their inbox. Clever, eh?
- It has to launch soon, so it can steal some of the iPhone’s thunder — putting it out there with your new E66 and E71 would be particularly appropriate, assuming your July drop dates are on track.
- It has to work on all S60 handsets!
III. Go Upmarket
I’m talking image, not price. I’m sure you’re aware that your fans on this side of the Atlantic are mostly using grey market unlocked phones. As one of these enlightened individuals I’m clearly biased; nonetheless I think you need to recognize us as your core audience, and adjust your marketing accordingly.
Pinching and flicking away on your iPhone will surely impress your friends, but once you travel off the continent you’ll pay dearly in roaming charges for that full-sized web experience. We savvy international travellers know better, so try to reach more of us. Do up some new ads that show S60 handsets as world class devices, usable anywhere on the planet. Go ahead and boast about your lion’s share of the global market — honestly, some people over here don’t even know!
Let the iPhone be the handset “for the rest of them”… Nokias are for rock stars, fashion models, activists, diplomats, secret agents. Remind us of that. Give Nokia a presence in business class lounges at airports — you could, for example, loan out some of your Internet Tablets to jet-setters on layover.
I’ll keep on spreading the good word, Nokia, but heed my advice — the iPhone is coming and it’s going to be huge. You need to take steps now to get a foothold on North America, and maintain your lead elsewhere… Don’t say I didn’t warn you!