Post Q2 Results, Should Nokia Rethink Its N9 Strategy?

The people at the helm at Nokia could see this and say, heh, do you even know our N9 strategy? Or may be that you’re missing the bigger picture, and how its now a war of ecosystems. I get that. This is in part a rant and in part a post on thinking aloud about what could Nokia do to stem the impending bloodbath that the next two quarters would bring.

We could all get together and blame Nokia’s new CEO for announcing the Windows Phone switch so soon and say that he could have handled the Symbian transition better, but lets just forget all that. Who knows what pressures he was under, or if Microsoft wanted it done that way, its all in the past. The point is what can Nokia do now.

Post Q2 Results, Should Nokia Rethink Its N9 Strategy?

Clearly the Q2 results are telling, not many people are buying Nokia devices these days, specially when there is an acute lack of quality high end devices. The N8 is getting old now, the E7 didn’t really take off and the hopes of the company now rest with the capable E6, but these are still not devices that can have the kind of impact Nokia needs, something to pull people to the stores.

They have one device that can. The Nokia N9. Its new, its fresh, and most importantly its nearly ready. If Nokia wants, the N9 could be in stores the world over. Yes its probably the last of its kind, but be that as it may, so what? Nokia needs to sell as many devices as it can and the N9 practically sells itself.

The worry inside of Nokia is about what sort of message are they sending to the consumers, asking them to buy a device which they themselves have given up on? Will the consumer even buy such a phone? Or that there will be confusion in the market because two similar looking devices will be running different OSs i.e. if Nokia’s first Windows Phone (the leaked Sea Ray) is actually the one they’ll be announcing come Nokia World in late October.

Post Q2 Results, Should Nokia Rethink Its N9 Strategy?

Then there’s also the problem of volume. If production schedules were designed with a small number of units in mind, can Nokia’s factories scale quickly to produce enough N9s to spread throughout the world come September? Will the cost of marketing the device the world over, or as least in high volume countries like India be easily offset by the sales?

If Nokia feels burnt by the N900 experience of pushing a hacker’s phone to the mass market, it shouldn’t decide the N9’s fate based on the old sting. The N9 is no N900. Its polished, as smooth as you like, has a nice capacitive display, comes with all the essential apps out of the box and is so beautiful that even the ladies will want one. The N900 was a beast, the touch experience was amiss, essential functionality was sometimes being worked upon and all this didn’t make it the consumer’s number one choice, it was one hell of a phone, just not the pinnacle of the average consumer’s dreams.

Apps have never been Nokia’s forte, but with Qt Quick things are really on the up and up. The Ovi Store is getting some really nice new apps everyday and there is enough developer interest in the N950/N9 to virtually guarantee a quick port for the N9. Nokia’s already backtracked on killing Symbian and has given it life till 2016, so at least some developers will be sticking around.

If you really come down to it, its hard to name even one single phone that can be the shinning star for Nokia in the next two quarters. The new Symbian devices will not be taken note of till Symbian’s new UI with Belle makes an appearance post Nokia World and the Windows Devices aren’t coming till the end of the year, that too in limited quantities. So its clear that if left unchecked, the fall will be fast and it will be hard. There are already signs that the device may be coming to more countries than the original 23 listed, lets just hope its actually happening.

I am not for a second saying deviate from the Windows Phone strategy, I do firmly believe that a lot of good can come from it, just that when you have something good on the side to fall back on, think of it as a nice thing. Something that may perhaps even help stem the carnage that seems imminent.

For the current quarter at Nokia its time to buckle down, to think of the N9 as your only phone and push it out, hard. There is nothing to loose, it might just win your back your loyalists. In the very least, it’ll get you mindshare, and that as we all know is as important as anything.

17 thoughts on “Post Q2 Results, Should Nokia Rethink Its N9 Strategy?”

  1. In America, seems Nokia can’t get their phones subsidized. That is what is killing their market share. For me, it is a blessing. I have to pay full price for the phone but I don’t have to subscribe to a data plan. For those who want a data plan, they get double hit. Full price for the phone and another $400/yr in data. That is hard to swallow. Wish I got a discount for buying a non-subsidized phone.

  2. Nokia devices are costlier than other phones for same specs. Nokia N9 has specs of middle end android phones which are of price 300-350$ but I m prety sure that their price will not be less than 500$ Nokia has to give more in less price to regain its market.

  3. Actually, what you pay in terms of money compared to what you get in terms of hardware is kinda misguided. You pay for hardware, software, support etc.

  4. Not misguided, every other manufacturer provide software & support. I bought Nokia 6233 from them and got 1 software update. Nokia wanted to make more profit from their phones resulting in downfall.

  5. @Parminder Singh

    Who cares Android devices have a faster CPU, MeeGo is faster anyway. Android does not have hw acceleration on most devices so MeeGo on a 1 GHz A8 will in a lot cases en definitly in user experience be FASTER!

  6. The answer is very simple, Nokia cannot think, they simply do whatever Microsoft dictates them to do. Stop having illusions N9 will be released at a very high price in selective markets that guarantee no success.

  7. If Nokia N9 will hit the market, I will buy it.

    It feels damn good, and even if Nokia won’t support it in the future, there are a lot of other manufacturers and independent developers that will support Meego, so I don’t mind if it will be the “last” Nokia with Meego (Really? They really will waste all that work? I don’t believe–they may do so because they need to push Windows phones, just because they don’t sell themselves as good as Meego).

    I hope I could drop a custom baked ROM on the N9.

  8. Nail me down on this in a few years:

    Nokia will not be successful with windows phones. If they still dont die of that, they will start making android phones.

  9. i agree, if they don’t launch it now… it’ll not sell… no offence, i don’t care what US think of it, but most Asian countries like this, few subsidies on most phones, Nokia phones have better hardware at the same price or cheaper.
    if they still not gonna launch a Windows Phone this quarter, very soon the world will abandon both Nokia & Microsoft in mobile phone market… whatever efforts now by Nokia can only retain the loyal Symbian users & that the number of user’s not looking any better.
    Nokia should stop harrassing us with a mix plan on OS rollout.

  10. @Anthony Cooper

    T-Mobile has plans that cost quite a bit less if you bring your own hardware.

  11. I would NEVER trade my N900 for an N9. No hardware keyboard, no resistive screen, and no 4G? Forget it. I would probably have bought a N950 if I could’ve gotten a hold of one, but as it stands, I’m looking for a second, backup N900 to tuck away safely. With the power kernel and the CSSUs, I can see myself using the N900 at the very least 3-4 more years, until the need for 4G simply gets too big. And it looks like I’m gonna have to, because there’s simply no other phone in the foreseeable future that can take its place.

    I’ve used Nokias exclusively since the mid 90’s, but I’ve come to loathe the company as of late. Is it too much to hope for that Intel will bring out some MeeGo tablets on their own…? I wouldn’t get an Iphone if my life depended on it, and an Android phone only as a very last resort.

  12. > If Nokia feels burnt by the N900 experience of pushing a hacker’s phone to the mass market,

    Oops, I must have missed something. N900 pushed to the mass market? Selling a device via hand-selected dealers only for months (in particular that special internet dealer who took pretends to be as important as a big forest in South America) and no devices in real-world shops means targeting a mass market? When they ever should have target the mass market in Germany, it must have been when the interest in the N900 has been fading long ago before that.

  13. Whatever all of u say, think or do..
    I use Nokia phones since day 1.
    They made many wrong decisions but
    the n900 was/is not only nokias it was/is the best phone ever!
    I would buy a n950 but this will be hard to get..
    I will buy a n9, because i belive in meego and Know that it is a good os!

    I will never buy a windows phone!

    Hope i can use my n9 and n900 for at least 3 or 4 yeara

  14. Good article, and I agree it makes sense. Elop even said that the goal is to sell as many phones as possible until WP models come around. The N9’s definitely a way to do it, but without subsidy it won’t stand up to the iPhone in North America. Apple was able to get carriers to subsidise it by about $600 while making that up by requiring a minimum phone plan with a minimum data plan, bringing the monthly bill quite high. The Droid had the same benefit with Verizon. Nokias are incredibly competetive for people who like unlocked phones and no contracts, but that’s hardly anyone over here. Most people want to get a phone for free, and spending $100 is huge for them. For that, I think the Nokia 500 is a better shot, judging by its rumoured prices they could sell it for $189 unlocked in Canada – it could be carried on 7-Eleven and Petro-Can (and likely TracFone, Net10 and similar carriers in the US), and would very easily go for free subsidised. The N9 is a good flagship device to get people looking at Nokia and paying attention to them, but I’m not sure it’ll be the one selling.

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