I LAST ATTENDED a big Nokia gig like the one at left just after the first iPhone hit the market. I remember muffled voices in the crowd who were wondering out loud what Nokia was going to do to head off the iPhone's apparent success. Nokia executives on the front stage weren't worried, suggesting that Nokia innovation was probably the reason the iPhone was such an instant success. In private conversations with Nokia executives, I heard people confidently telling me that Nokia's global market share was dominant and Nokia's ecosystem from the high end to the low margin starter phones forecast sustained success. Based on profit warnings and erosion at the top end of the market, Nokia is losing ground. In fact, I think the company is losing mindshare as developers pull away and start coding applications in the iPhone App Store and the Android market. While I'm still using a Nokia E90 as my primary business device, I know that I'm increasingly isolated by friends who find the iPhone and Android ecosystems so compelling.
As readers of my blog know, I've used Nokia Communicators since they first arrived on the market. My preference for big tactile things like clamshell phones, old skool record cards and hardback books makes a certain fashion statement that causes Mac fanboys to cringe. When I was using my Nokia 9000, Nokia’s market capitalization was $208 billion. Its market cap is down to $45 billion today. I like my Nokia handsets because they're durable, reward my touch-typing speed, have enterprise applications and the handsets can run for the entire duty day without a need for recharging. But with spare batteries now part of my carry-on luggage and with very compelling (free) applications for my Xperia X10, I'm starting to wonder if Nokia's Skunkworks doesn't have an Android subcommunity working to launch a device that rewards consumers with a high-quality build and an instant welcoming audience.
Say what you will about Symbian. I consider its open source nature and lovely power consumption to be top of the class. However, the mindshare belongs to Android and to the iPhone. That's where the many talented developers have migrated. Without developers, you cannot build an ecosystem. And without that ecosystem, you lose mindshare. Not even a high-energy gig like Nokia Go Play will restore the mindshare. Surely Nokia heard the murmurs in the Go Play crowd several years ago and they're listening to the crowd now. Nokia remains the world’s largest mobile phone maker but it has tumbled dramatically in the USA. Part of that decline is due to loss of mindshare and part of the loss is down to strategic errors.
Ewan Spence -- "Why Symbian Deserves a Second Chance" on his blog, 18 June 2010.
Nic Fildes -- "New Nokia profit warning as smartphones eat into its market share" in The Times (Australia), 17 June 2010.
Matt Phillips -- "Nokia is out, it seems" in the WSJ business blog, 9 June 2010.