Nokia's chances

Robert Clark
09 Sep 2009

When someone writes the history of the handset business in the 21st century, 2009 will surely go down as the year it changed forever.

For different reasons the companies that have dominated the sector in the past decade are severely stressed. In the case of Motorola and Sony Ericsson, perhaps fatally so.

The new pacesetters, in case you've been in Patagonia for the last 12 months, are Apple, RIM, Google and HTC.

Nokia is still the market leader by volume and sales, but as the years go by without a device that can challenge the iPhone, it looks increasingly vulnerable. Where did it all go wrong?

Too complacent

Perhaps it's been a victim of its own success. As the iPhone bandwagon began gathering steam a couple of years ago, an acquaintance working the Nokia ad account said he thought it was too complacent to deal with the coming onslaught.

In retrospect we can see that Nokia has responded to the iPhone as effectively as it dealt with the BlackBerry; not at all. Now RIM dominates the corporate segment and Apple the top-end consumer market. Coming down the pike are HTC and Android.

For all of Nokia's successes as the world's most-loved handset-maker for the past decade, it has a dreadful record in picking the market.

It missed the clamshell mini-boom in 2004, and about the same time went off on the ineffectual N-Gage diversion. It became convinced Microsoft was its biggest threat and that the key to success was the operating system.

In that time Apple has had a series of game-changing hits: the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and now the App Store.


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