jeudi 19 août 2010

Why is Nokia still struggling on the smartphone business?

In a recent article published in Zdnet  "Nokia rules the mobile phone world so why do we diss them in the US?" (read full article), the author Matthew Miller is wondering why do Americans have so much against Nokia. The comments from readers were also quite good and interesting.

But as may techies, they miss the point. It's not only an American thing, it's a worldwide trend (at least in developped countries), figures published do show it, Nokia is losing market shares in the smartphone business.

For having tried few hundred different devices for the past 6 years, I would definitely go with Matthew on numerous points, also shared by most readers who posted comments.

That is yes, Nokia phones have definitely a much better calling quality, yes they have a much better camera (on average, I must precise), and yes they have tons of cool features which are not to be added via an app.

But there's a major point many techies tend to follow. For many consumers, let's say the majority, what does really matter? It's a concept called "user friendliness" and a "wow" effect.

Few years ago, it was all about mp3 players. There were tons on the market, and many, many much better than the iPod. But guess what, iPod (and all its versions) made the revolution (and the income), and they still sell many despite the fact that most phones can do virtually the same. Now why would somebody buy an additional device to do something his one phone is doing? User friendliness, simplicity!!

I had N85 which I was using as a modem to connect on the internet while abroad with my laptop; great feature, but that required a lot of time in configuration (more than any normal person would spend). So not really a feature valuable to most consumers.

Now the day I had an iPhone in my hands (3 years ago), it was like "wow", so fluid, so easy and intuitive and can do so well the simple tasks I want to do. Yes camera is crappy, but I never expected my phone to replace my camera (and you can line up millions of pixels, you still won't even compare with plain cameras...). Putting content on it, nothing simpler, one cable, one software darn easy to use (a 5 year old could use it), that’s it ....

The point I'm trying to make is that yes, Nokia is making great phones; solid, reliable, full of tech stuff; but their “smartphones” are not as appealing to consumers as they were and don't address their needs; at least not in the real smartphone market (sorry, but for me a N95 is not a smartphone), and far not as much as they used to. Let’s also define what a “smartphone” is. For me, it’s a mobile device that can do a lot of multimedia things starting with Internet, can also call and have a bunch of communication features (social networks, maps, apps that help me where I am, like nearby movie theater with movies played there, etc.).

Lately, I tried to install Nokia maps on my N95, took me 2 hours to configure the darn account, ensure that my PC would recognize my N95, put the software, download the maps, install the maps; and finally when using it, after 10 meters, the navigation closed because the phone couldn't get connected (and yes, at the same spot I could get a perfect 3G signal and could connect to the Internet).... hardly a real smartphone (but I know, it's not a recent one, but still considered as a "smartphones" by people like Gartner when doing their stats). On iPhone, you press Map, and that’s it. Simple. Yes, less features, but guess what, when I’m lost, I don’t have minutes to spend configuring a phone!

I have tried a N8 over a month ago. Side to size even with an iPhone 3G (not even 3Gs), consumer lambda would still see the difference; starting with the touch sensitivity.... yes, it's basic, but darn hell important!

I also have a SE X10, Android. Touch sensitivity = same as iPhone, connectivity: super easy; but a bit more of a mess when it comes to apps and menu, but still much better than the Symbian interface.

What many said here in comments is quite significant of the issue Nokia faces. They said that after a while, you get used to the Symbian OS. Well, that's the problem. It's not the consumer who shall get used to the OS, it's the opposite!!

So that's why I have entittled this comment "is it really about technical specs", because it ain't!

Now I admit, I didn't test the Nokia N900. Could be a very slick device, I don't know. But this highlights the second issue with Nokia: how they sell their devices to consumers. Have you seen a Nokia ad lately? I for sure haven't. I see Apple, I see Samsung, I see HTC... but not Nokia; and I’m not in the US, but in France.

Actually when you talk to marketing people from Nokia, they will admit aspiring to Apple's user experience. I quote an article from Mobile Entertainment (june 1st 2010) "Nokia's head of global partner marketing Nick Malaperiman admits that the company has work to do to catch up with Apple's App Store in terms of user experience." (read full article)

Back 2 years ago, Nokia's EVP of Entertainment (at the time) Tero Ojanpera was saying "Nokia has been steadily repositioning itself from hardware manufacturer to “a next-generation entertainment company.” (read full article). What Nokia really lacks is meeting words with reality. Do you see Nokia as a media company. Lambda consumers sure don't.

So Nokia guys, you have the strength, you have the brains, you have a hell of a brand, you have the money (at least, you still do for now), think "outside the box"! I would even say "think outside the Finnish box" and you will really kick some butts!

That’s a personal opinion from a consumer who had few happy years with Nokia phones and is really expecting a lot from them.

And Mathew, would love to read your post once you’ll test the N8, truly.


Enregistrer un commentaire