2010 was a near disaster for Nokia. They kept losing huge chunks of market share to Android and they are now non-existent in North American market. But for most part of 2010, Nokia has enjoyed good sales in sub 20k market segment while the high end (profit churning) smartphone market was dominated by Android and iOS and those needing a business phone picked Blackberry, which has been slightly successful in creating a buzz among youth. Nokia was lucky that sub 15k market was not flooded by Android devices till late 2010. I recommended many to go with Nokia devices for sub 20k budget. Phones like E72, E5, X5, 5235 proved to be better than the competition. Lately, the sub 15k market is getting flooded by good Android devices like Optimus One, Ideos, Galaxy 3, Xperia X8. Phones like MM Andro A60 and Galaxy 5 brought android to the masses. While N8 has saved the face of Nokia, it can’t hold for long. Another worrying factor is lack of sales in North American region. The main problem is that none of the Nokia devices are sold with contract. Who will pay 450$+ for a phone when they get better phones for subsidized prices.
Only going to get tougher: The competition is going to be fierce in 2011. The most worrying aspect is that Android is getting better with each iteration and OHA has started attacking sub-20k segment. Even the sub 10k is going to get some good releases. Then comes the much discussed and much awaited OS, the Windows Phone 7. WP7 devices started showing up in manufacturers India sites during last week of December and this means that Nokia can say bye bye to high end smartphone market. One OS that hasn’t made much of a market in 2010 is Bada OS. There was only one good release in 2010 which had received very good response but Samsung couldn’t get much going on applications side. The lack of apps kept many away but we expect better show as Samsung is lining up few devices and Bada OS 2.0, which looks interesting. All this means that Nokia has to be on their feet and they have monstrous task at hand. They will most certainly keep losing market share through 2011 but if they want to, they can set things right and hit back. Here are five things that I want to see from Nokia:
1. Stable MeeGo: I felt that Nokia made a big mistake by abandoning Maemo, an OS that received critical acclaim and quickly became favorite of geeks and also received good response from end users. And I definitely didn’t understand why they chose S^3 over Maemo as their stop-gap OS for top-end phones. While S^3 is much better than S60v5, there are many who stayed away from N8 just because it’s running old Symbian. Maemo 5 is a two year old OS now and had N8 came out with Maemo, it would’ve been an exceptional device and with the powerful hardware, it would’ve become the phone that everyone wanted. It’s understandable that Nokia went with MeeGo as it had backing of some big names. But the recent build is all but disappointing. The OS is far from even being alpha. With every other manufacturer breathing down their neck, it is essential that they get a stable build of MeeGo and a handful of devices running MeeGo in 2011. Nokia need to bring out the SDK well in advance to allow developers come up with quality apps by the time devices hit the market, get manufacturers like HTC, Samsung and LG to release MeeGo devices. And the last thing I want to see is Nokia abandon MeeGo for some other OS. A solid and stable build of MeeGo along with handful of devices by end of the year will give developers enough interest and faith that the platform has future.
2. Phone that pull geeks: N900 was a superb device and it has gained popularity as a device that can do anything. The geek world was stunned when Android 2.3 was ported to this device. I want to see another such device that on one hand can be delight for normal users and on other hand can be Modder’s delight. Only few phones enjoy such status and their market life is really high (Desire, HD2, SGS etc.). A phone with the build of E7, features of N8 and running MeeGo or Maemo, powered by Cortex A8/A9 variants will be great for geeks and enthusiasts.
3. Better Ovi Client: Why is Nokia having one app for sync, one for multimedia and web-only appstore. In the age of all-in-ones, this is stone age stuff. Ovi Client should be made similar to Zune client and iTunes where it can sync everything including apps. Or at least, let users download installers and copy those over to phone. Not everyone has a data plan and letting users to load apps only by connecting to Ovi store from phone and OTA is not so feasible. Also, there also need to be a way to organize and log installs.
4. Complete ecosystem: Nokia should also bring out a tablet if they are to popularize MeeGo or S^4. Yes, and I mean it. The more the devices, the more the developer interest is. The more the developer interest is, the more the apps are and better the quality of appstore is. In the end, it results in a stable platform and high sales figures. Also, they need a better ecosystem. There are these Ovi services that are actually good, but each acts in it’s own way. And these are hardly used by end users. I am yet to get to see a single non-enthusiast users using Ovi for contacts and mail. at the max, it is used as a medium to communicate with Nokia. Google made these services like Gmail, Gtalk integrated well in Android and is considered a major reason in picking Android. Why not have a similar ecosystem pushed by Nokia. With the resources they have, I think they can. So, start educating users on Ovi services through TV and web commercials.
5. 3rd party OS: Face the truth, nobody wants to buy a Nokia device for business use anymore. My colleagues think that it is very hard to use Nokia device for Exchange services. So, why not stop trying to push Symbian down the throat and instead go for OS like WP7 instead. At least it will keep Nokia in this segment alive till they come out with a good alternative.
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