Nokia N8,N9..How many phones will Nokia Launch to combat an iPhone?

Nokia has launched yet another ‘world’ changing’ product, N8. I call it yet another product, because some of the earlier ‘game changer’ products like N97, N900 failed to create significant impact and there is no reason why N8 can be ‘that’ phone, the world is waiting for.

For Nokia, more phones means more chances of more customers buying Nokia phones. Basically, customers now have so many choices of Nokia phones, that they will eventually end up buying atleast 1 Nokia phone.

That’s what Nokia thinks.

And to add to this, there are easy-to-remember names – 3110, 2130, 5130, N72, N97, N8, C Series, E Series (WT-F?G?H?).

On the other hand, you have iPhone.

Limited options. Clear cut feature difference between the models.

Apple always starts with high end customers, creates wow factor with user experience, creates market demand, expands ecosystem of app developers and launches a mini version for the mass.

Simple.Top down focus.

Nokia approaches the problem in a more horizontal fashion – targets each and every user segment, make something for somebody (actually everything for everybody) and in the end, all you get is plethora of options with marginal difference between the phones. Too difficult to understand real differences between the models.

Infact, in all probability the way it works is that each and every business unit as well as geographical BU comes up with its own version of ‘killer phone’ and launches one – there is hardly any coherent strategy to combat the global competition (and on top of that, Nokia’s digital strategy is broken).

One might argue that Nokia is still strong (and much stronger) than rivals in emerging markets (even though Nokia Market Share is falling), but the reality is that customers are now exposed to better phones with more socially integrated features which are less confusing than different versions of Nokia phones.

Phone vs. the Web Services/App Strategy

Success of iPhone clearly tells us that once you have optimized on (wow) user experience, all you need is great Internet services (apps) for people to use phone beyond the basic utility of SMS and making calls.

Nokia’s attempt to optimize user experience is way too defocused – N97, N900, N8..? Core experience remains the same and frankly, the product/feature difference is only understood by the mobile enthusiasts/geeky crowd!

A viewpoint is also that Apple has primarily focused on developed market and the integrated app strategy may not be applicable to markets where Nokia operates in (mostly emerging markets). A look at lower ARPU of telecom operators in India is a testimonial to the fact that companies are looking at integrated experience (each operator has its own app store now).  And interestingly, emerging markets are the next big bet for Mobile Internet services.

Nokia doesn’t get this. Nokia still wants to play I-have-a-marginally-better-phone-than-you and is missing out on the Internet services game.

No doubt that Nokia will beat iPhone in handset sales, but is that where the money is? Is that what people talk @MWC? Does that attract developers anymore? Will this more phone-more-market-share strategy work anymore?

Not that Nokia cannot win this game, its just that there are half hearted attempts mixed with internal bureaucracy and companies’ attempt to change the internal DNA (from mobile to Internet services) is taking too long.

Too long in the Internet age.

To me, Nokia seems like a company which is on the right track, but headed towards wrong destination.

What’s your opinion?

And by the way, today Nokia has launched three products (in India) today – Nokia C3, Nokia C6 and Nokia E5.

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