Tomi Ahonen just wrote thousands of words about why Nokia has the best smartphone strategy in the market. It’s a very compelling read and I found myself almost ready to give up my iPhone and new Android-based Google Nexus S Samsung smartphone and move to northern Europe.
Definitely the prevailing view in high-tech communities I talk with around the world is that Nokia is doomed. Maybe not as doomed as RIM, after all, Nokia is a huge business that still sells the majority of phones around the world. But last week at LeWeb I met with people around the world. I saw dozens of new mobile apps. Not a single one was pitched to me on a Nokia device.
This alone tells me that Nokia is doomed and has no strategy. Don’t believe me? Just watch Marko Ahtisaari, SVP of Design at Nokia, as he presents last week at LeWeb:
What is Nokia’s strategy?
1. Attack Apple. Er, attack America. Make it a “Europe vs. America” thing.
2. Talk about all the cool things they are gonna do for us.
3. Don’t show off anything new.
4. Arrogantly insist they are OK and will dominate in smartphones.
5. Insist that Meego will save the world.
6. Say that there’s a “Cupertino distortion field” happening. Funny line. But isn’t good strategy.
My view? Nokia is a chicken that has had its head cut off. It’s not the only one. Read this excellent analysis of RIM’s business and why their execs are unable to really come to terms with how bad a spot they are in. This could apply very well to Nokia.
Why is Nokia in a poor spot? Because I’ve had several mobile executives visit my home carrying Nokia phones. Funny enough they always are also carrying iPhones and Android devices. I poke at the folks carrying all these devices. “Do you like the Nokia N8?” The answer is always “no.”
The thing that Tomi and Marko don’t admit is that Nokia’s strategy is in a deep hole with influencers and developers.
Now, do these folks matter? Not in the short term.
But in the long term? Oh, yeah. Microsoft is already learning how important they are. Why? Sales of Windows Phone 7 haven’t been very good at all. And Microsoft is already way ahead of Nokia. How? They have an awesome user experience with a new, rewritten for the modern age, OS. Plus, Microsoft is WAY ahead of Nokia in developer tools. Building apps for Windows Phone 7 is easier than for other platforms, my friends, who include Zagat’s top developer, tell me. Nokia is, they tell me, a real mess to develop for in comparison (and RIM is even worse).
Here’s the deal. People around the world are going into Apple stores (and the ones in Paris were as packed last week as the ones in Cupertino) and are playing with phones. Even if you hate Apple you take note that there’s hundreds of thousands of apps and most of the coolest ones are coming out for iPhone and NOT other platforms (there’s another one coming in an hour, come back here then for a first look).
When those customers go and look at other phones, that have far fewer apps, plus are much harder to use, they balk.
The chicken has no head. I don’t see any Nokia strategy to get app developers to build for it that will work. That’s what’s missing from Tomi’s analysis and why it still doesn’t ring true, no matter how many words he writes.
UPDATE: Tomi just wrote some more words in response to me. Good debate!