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.
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.
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.
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