Lately, each discussion of any Nokia related news becomes epic. It's a battle, in which everyone wants to participate and show his knowledge, regardless of their mental abilities, ability to judge and actually analyze information. Many of these commentators seem to think that they are world-class experts. Others seem to think, that such discussions show the voice of the people.
Lets try to figure out how things are really working and why there is so much negativity in discussions about Nokia these days.
1. Nokia is a major corporation and a quite recognized brand, which can be compared to Coca-Cola in terms of global penetration. Practically it is hard to find people in the world, who have access to cellular communication and aren't aware of or haven't used Nokia products. It appears that there is maximum people in the world, who have their opinion on Nokia products either it is positive or negative.
2. Nokia almost ultimately controlled the world’s cell phone market for more than a decade. People tend to think of Nokia as an undisputed global leader, so any negative information about it, no matter of its nature or impact is perceived as a sign of the company's decline, regardless of what is really happening. For example the news about reformatting Ovi Music service are not negative, but it was perceived as negative just because there was a word “closing”.
3. Generally, people can’t understand complicated process and see nuances. They don’t want to get deep into details of events and don’t want to rank different factors according to their real importance.
4. People can’t understand that success and failure story have their temporal and relative dimensions. Many people tend to think that graphics showing up or showing down are illustrating a trend which will work forever, not realizing that it’s always a temporal phenomenon.
5. People fail to understand that any experience is relevant only for a period of time, and can’t be used to judge a company or a product forever. For example, people tend to think, that their 3 years old experience with Nokia N95 is a good start to judge Nokia N8. Actually it's like judging iPhone from the experience with Apple Newton.
6. Geeks always using their devices to the limit, leaders of Internet community were always negative to Symbian, and hence negative to Nokia, judging it’s devices as not suitable for their needs. This trend has begun when Nokia had no mass production touchscreen phones.
7. People still fail to realize that such huge market as cell phones with such great capacity, doesn't give opportunity to any company to have solely 70 or just 40% of global market. It will be a great struggle with global leaders, but one company cant hold the whole market oneself anymore.
8. People think that if the world share of Android is going straight ahead to Symbian, it necessarily means Nokia’s failure . No one even tries to take into account that Google is not a cell phone maker, and Nokia still produces 3x times more smartphones, than three closest competitors. There is still no other company in the world able to produce and support such volumes. Just think about it – Nokia manufactured 100.000. 000 smartphones in 2010, 5 mln of them were on Symbian^3 launched just before the year's end. It's not actually the sunset of the platform. For example it would take 7 years for Apple to produce so much smartphones.
9. People can't produce discussion with difficult comparisons. It's just simple bad vs good, black vs white, no details. And as it has been said, there is no time or price factor in their considerations. Example – at its launch, Nokia 5800 was much more a smartphone and was much cheaper, than Apple iPhone 2G. It took quite a lot of time for an iPhone to get rid of its kicks, and it didn't get multitasking after all (Symbian had it since 2002), but people’s memory won't hold such details. It's just great experience versus bad experience. Nobody tries to compare cars with 2x difference in price tag, but somehow it's possible in the world of smartphones.
10. General reader can't recognize the fact that one product can't satisfy everyone with price, quality, functions or services. One, even most successful product can't dominate the whole planet. There will be always some alternatives. Talking of iPhone, it has reached his limit – it's huge 15%, but there are 85% of customers who want something else.
11. US is a dominant media source and it thinks of itself as a virtual center of the world, always praising its own opinion. It’s also true about mobile tech media, which is primarily controlled by American geek community – so everything related to Nokia and Symbian is never shown in positive way.
12. General tech blog commentator and general customer are people from two different worlds, which never meet. And they have completely different opinion on Nokia and Symbian. Geeks use their devices to perform unique and specific tasks, considering everything not capable to satisfy their needs as nonsense. General customer buys a cell phone as a set of qualities and capabilities, and OS is not always on the first or second place. It produces a striking difference – Nokia has a bad coverage with geek media, but sells more smartphones that three closest competitors combined.
13. It's almost a custom on the net to use unfair arguments like Symbian is outdated. Almost everyone making such comments haven’t seen Symbian^3 on a real device or haven’t used it for more than 5 minutes. Also nobody wants to take into account that Android is based on Linux kernel which is almost 20 years old, MacOS came out in 1982, and MS Windows in 1985. The Windows interface used by everyone nowadays was invented by Xerox in mid-1970 and haven’t seen any significant and fundamental changes.
14. Tech blogs and their general followers don’t want to understand a simple thing – it’s much easier, cheaper and more effective to change virtual keyboard, browser and the widget homescreen than replacing their entire operating system, which is still has the leading share. And it can be and will be done with the actual set of produced devices!
15. Everyone fail to understand, that swapping Symbian for Android or WP7 won’t benefit Nokia – it will lead to a complete loss of its services, its RND and a huge loyal community. It will lead to a complete loss of independence and initiative for the company. A rejection of its own operating systems will mean a transition to the category of companies which won’t set any trends forever, complete dependency from Google or MS and their plans. It would likely produce mediocre financial results. Also it must be taken into account, that Nokia can't just throw their 300.000.000 Symbian community and go for Android geeks – it means that they will have to maintain Symbian and it's services for quite a long time anyway.
16. There is a clear trend to speak only of Nokia’s shortcomings, keeping silence about any positive facts. In particular, have you ever seen somewhere in US tech blogs any positive info about Nokia’s services, especially about Ovi Store? Just look how fast it’s growing – it has reached 4 mlns downloads a day or 1.5 bln a year. Just two months ago it was less than 3 mln or 1 bln a year. Certainly, the figure of 30.000 apps is not that what blogs want us to be impressed about. But they were quite optimistic about Google Market reaching this goal a little while ago. The huge demand in Ovi Store will meet its offer – it's a basic economy.
Was it a complete set of reasons why Nokia gets bashed over the net? No, but this is a set of basic factors describing Nokia’s perception. Does it mean, that everyone is totally unfair and Nokia has no problems? Also not true, but there are no companies without shortcomings and failures.
Nokia once made a big mistake by cutting powerful SOCs out of their 5800 generation– it was the main reason, why they couldn't deliver fancy and attractive interfaces to their Symbian touch devices. But it doesn't mean that they can't – look at N900’s interface, it's beating Android visual style hard and it's 1 year old.
Has Nokia overslept iPhone? No, they were using a conservative vision of the market, and it’s normal for a big company. Nobody could predict such a strong success at the time of its launch. If you recall, after the release of the iPhone, everyone kept skeptic face, talking about a niche product. It was hard to understand, how a device, with virtually no clear innovation could drive the market. Its simplicity and elegance in perception of a well-organized community was able to set trend for the whole generation of devices, but it couldn’t be adequately predicted. It was also hard for Nokia, because they didn't get much success with 7700 or 7710, and they have actually beaten SonyEricsson, which produced great touch interfaces for years.