Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is it premature to dance on Nokia's grave?

Let me begin this post with a VERY IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE. I WAS AN EMPLOYEE OF MOTOROLA FROM NOVEMBER 2000 TO APRIL 2009. And although I wasn't employed in the portion of Motorola that manufactures mobile phones, I certainly heard my share of comments about Motorola mobile phones. And, except for a brief period when the RAZR was released, many of the comments that i heard were negative. Motorola is uncool, people would say. Or, more to the point, Nokia is cool; Motorola isn't.

So, even though I'm not a Motorola employee any more, I have to admit that a smile crept across my face when I read this:

The latest sign that Nokia is falling seriously out of favor with analysts comes from Greg Sterling of Internet2Go, a unit of San Francisco-based Opus Research that specializes in the mobile Internet.

Sterling writes that “you might as well stick a fork” in Nokia’s prospects in the U.S., noting that the Finnish company’s share in smartphones has been declining in the face of competition from Apple and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion. Symbian, the operating system used in Nokia handsets as well as some other manufacturers, is also losing share, Sterling points out. Only a radical departure, such as a shift to a new operating system, can rescue Nokia’s prospects, he writes.

But apparently Sterling isn't the only one who's down on Nokia:

Sterling joins a growing list of professional market watchers who argue that Nokia has lost the initiative in smartphones, the most lucrative part of the market.

But BusinessWeek writer Jack Ewing takes a moment to look at the opposing view about Nokia's prospects:

Nokia is taking radical steps. For example, the company has begun shifting to a new operating system called Maemo 5, based on the popular Linux open-source OS. In the run up to the Nokia World extravaganza in Stuttgart Sept. 2 and 3, the company announced a new handset-sized portable computer called the N900 which will run Maemo. I ran into Nokia Executive VP Anssi Vanjoki at the event, and he surprised me by telling me that he thought the N900 was of greater strategic importance to the company than the new Booklet 3G mini laptop, which grabbed all the headlines.

Now whatever one may think about Nokia's pricing, at least they've plotted a strategy and are executing it.

And what of the two competitors that were mentioned earlier, Apple and RIM? Well, RIM has certainly had its legal troubles, and Apple is always in danger of landing in government trouble over its tactics. I wouldn't count Nokia out just yet.

However, I have to admit that I'm paying more attention to some things that my ex-coworkers are doing right now... (And no, I have no inside information on that.)

P.S. For those who are wondering about the picture...it is historical. Nokia didn't start out as a mobile phone company. As Flickr user Andrei notes:

Before specialising in mobile phones, Nokia manufactured all kind of stuff. Cables, shoes, rubber and paper products etc. Here are some genuine Nokia Silk toilet paper rolls from the sixties.
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