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Commentary: Future of Current Nokia

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Nokia Roundtable where the group executives from Nokia talked about the current Nokia strategies goals in the SEAP region, and globally. Nokia’s strategic goals are to deliver the right solutions to the right segments of the market; win the market with new Symbian smartphones; create a vibrant ecosystem for apps; enable consumer access to mobility anywhere in the world.

Currently, the strengths of Nokia that’s keeping Nokia afloat is really its trusted brand, worldwide presence, localization within different markets, wide portfolio of devices, existing partnership with telco operators for carrier billing and other partnerships, together with a fairly comprehensive offering of applications in their Ovi store.

Given, Nokia makes great phones, in terms of hardware. They’ve knowledge and experience in creating the best phone for communication as a phone (i.e. talking, SMS-ing). With their recent N8, they have create another awesome phone with an awesome camera, brilliantly tough casing, and stunning screen.

However, Nokia’s sole (besides the not-released-yet Meego) operating system, Symbian, and its fragmentation of developer tools (QT, WRT – HTML5 + Javascript, Adobe Flash, Java, Symbian C++ Native), frameworks, and difficulty in creating visually complex applications is Nokia’s greates weakness in their whole strategy. If you are as unfortunate to have to create a native app for Nokia’s newest Symbian^3 OS (e.g. N8), you’ll realize Nokia’s Symbian SDK is half-baked and not quite polished (read as buggy), with a lot of the hardware graphics capabilities (OpenGL as of this writing) not there yet.

Nokia is working hard to fix those various problems mentioned above, by unifying all development into 1 platform – QT. Hopefully, this is the right choice that will allow the reunification of a fragmented industry created by Nokia’s wide range of phones.

Nokia currently owns the emerging market with their slew of cheap and wide range of phones appealing to the consumers of the emerging market. With Samsung Bada coming strong with its better and consistent developer experience (although it’s using C++), it is quite a stable OS that provides a decent, responsive and modern user interface (Samsung’s TouchWiz) which blows away whatever Nokia has currently with their aging Symbian^3 UI.

Will Meego, Nokia’s latest efforts to revamp and modernize their operating system, be able to compete with the rest of the smartphone OS? As of now, it doesn’t look promising though, but maybe they will be able to surprise all of us. Nokia is planning to get Meego ready some time next year. The success or failure of Meego will determine the fate of Nokia.

Will Nokia survive the onslaught of the current mobile market, with the rise of the smartphones like the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Android – with Android targeting the lower cheaper segment of the Nokia’s pie with cheaper phones from Huawei and other manufacturers and Samsung Bada taking over the emerging market? Only time will tell provided they play on their strengths to survive and fix their weaknesses in order to gain back the title of what Nokia was once known as THE mobile company.

To summarize, Nokia’s strong points:

  • Existing partnership with Telcos
  • Localization of various markets
  • Great phone hardware

Nokia’s weak points:

  • Outdated and clunky User Interface/User Experience
  • Fragmented and half-baked Software Development Kits
  • Fragmentation of devices and OS versions

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