There is little hope of a revival in Nokia's fortunes in the next 12 months, says Goldman Sachs in a downbeat report that concluded the bulk of the world's largest mobile-phone maker's current woes were “self inflicted”.
Goldman said Nokia's risk-reward profile remained uncompelling – relative to the broker's bullish view on the wider European technology sector – due to its continued loss of market share in the smartphone segment, combined with a lack of convincing new high-end models scheduled for the next 12 months.
In a damning note to investors, a Goldman analyst wrote that, having experienced the Nokia N97, the company needed to start almost from scratch to create an attractive user experience, rather than following the complex menu structure of Series 60.
“But this revamp is unlikely to be achieved rapidly. In the meantime, the iPhone will likely become available on a non-exclusive basis from many more operators, and move deeper into emerging markets, long the preserve of Nokia,” the broker warned.
Goldman also believed that Nokia's 55% market share in the mid-end smart-phone segment looked “unsustainably high” given that Nokia's brand image will ultimately suffer from its loss of leadership at the high-end. In anticipation, Goldman has forecast that Nokia's value share in the segment will fall to 40% in 2011.
Piling on the gloom, Goldman maintained that the key swing factor for Nokia's earnings in the mid-term was the company's ability to execute its software and solutions strategy so that its high-end models could compete more successfully with products from Apple and Taiwan's HTC, among others.
Unfortunately Nokia's track record in that area over the past eight years has been poor. It's failed to significantly break into the enterprise market dominated by RIM – although its latest deal with Microsoft might help – and has fallen two years behind Apple in multimedia, despite the US firm's late entry into the market, the broker said.