The iPhone Invasion: What Nokia Can Do

iPhone Destroyer (courtesy of Gizmodo.com)
(image courtesy of Gizmodo.com)

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:

  1. It has to be free.
  2. It has to support multiple POP mail accounts from other domains — bonus points if you can include popular webmail clients like GMail, Hotmail, etc.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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!


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11 responses to “The iPhone Invasion: What Nokia Can Do”

  1. Elias C. Avatar
    Elias C.

    Good article, it would be nice if Nokia had more of an upscale presence here, I agree. Th N95-4 is really the first model of merit we have seen here, but Nokia can do so much more.

    As for the ambassador thing, I’d love to participate. One of the catches is that you have to have a Nokia, and an impressive one at that…something I am currently lacking.

  2. Sachendra Yadav Avatar

    Good advise, let’s hope Nokia’s listening… more importantly because Android and LiMO phones are around the corner as well.

    The one thing Nokia has going for them is they’ve realized they need to be a software services company, just being a handset manufacturer won’t cut it any more.

  3. Ed Miller Avatar

    AC:

    Bravo! I’m an Apple fan, but I’d like to see someone challenge the iPhone with a complete package because Apple’s not doing something with it that they’ve done really well in the past.

    Apple changed the music industry by combining a user-friendly piece of hardware with the user-friendly iTunes app, and they’ve become the 800-lb gorilla of the music industry, changing how people buy and listen to music. Apple made the app work for anyone, with cross-platform access, video, podcasts, etc. Could Microsoft, with its might, combat the iPod with the Zune/Windows Media Player? Nope — the app is the worst-designed media player ever, and Apple already had the app available for Windows users.

    Right now, Apple is most vulnerable in that they haven’t created a killer app to go with the iPhone. If another smartphone maker were to come up with a free, user-friendly, cross-platform, all-in-one, plug-and-play app that allows you to make your phone an extension of your home computer and vice versa, they may have a chance of beating Apple at its own game.

    Apple hasn’t come up with the killer app for the iPhone yet, which, to me, is odd. Microsoft thought up Outlook over 10 years ago when they expanded their Mail program to include tasks, calendars, etc., so why do Mac (and iPhone) users still have separate apps for calendars, mail, and contacts? (I’ve been debating going over to the dark side and using Entourage as my PIM on my Macs just so I don’t have to keep opening 3 apps every day (and I’m not even syncing with a phone).

    Cheers,

    Ed

  4. AC Avatar

    There’s a little tidbit in this Nokia Q & A with SMS Text News, specifically:

    Q: What about syncing services?
    A: No comment on Ovi offering…

    Interesting…

  5. nomadismocelular Avatar

    Excellent post, Andrew.

    I have been writing about technology, mobile world, trends, mobile computing for several years, and I think you’re straight on the point. I have just posted a text at http://nomadismocelular.wordpress.com/2008/06/17/as-estastisticas-no-planeta-celular/ about statistics in cellular planet. There’s really many things that Nokia and the other players have to do.

    Best regards,

    Mary Jo Zilveti

  6. Alex G Avatar
    Alex G

    Don’t waste your breath… if anyone had the mental capacity to at least follow apple’s success, they would’ve done it.

  7. AC Avatar

    Alex, your intimate understanding of the mobile handset business is astonishing — with Nokia selling about as many handsets each and every week as Apple has in the past year, those stupid Finns clearly don’t know what they’re doing…

  8. runnny Avatar
    runnny

    Elias, you don’t need to have an impressive Nokia phone to become an S60 ambassador. In fact it doesn’t even have to be a Nokia! It helps to have an S60-powered device – and that currently means an LG, Samsung or a Nokia. S60 is an open platform, remember?!

    Great stuff, AC. Keep up the good work!

  9. AC Avatar

    Ah, so Nokia is listening… Excellent!

  10. Alex Avatar
    Alex

    That is a neat perspective on what Nokia can do steal some spotlight from Apple. Being an owner the iPhone, I think the most “enjoyable” feature of the phone is the multi-touch. It’s one thing to have a touch screen phone; but when you can use two fingers? That’s insane.

  11. AC Avatar

    Alex, thanks so much for your incredibly insightful comment.

    On a related note, you know what I love about cheese? It gets all melty when you melt it. Yeah, that cheese is something else…

    Nice spam blog, by the way; for the sake of my legitimate readers I’ve removed the link from your comment — hope that’s okay.

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