Nokia has just announced that since 1999 they managed to sell 1.5 billion S40 mobile devices. That is an impressive number in a world that was starting to use a mobile phone for the first time and that grew up with Nokia. I’m not going to argue whether Nokia was or was not a great company in the past. It clearly was, and I’ve owned several Nokia phones myself. The question is how relevant are those numbers today?
Those type of phones are becoming obsolete and quickly starting to be replaced by lower-end Android phones. Thanks to companies like Huawei, ZTE and even LG and Samsung, we are starting to see Android phones that sell for less than many of Nokia’s “feature” phones. The carriers in many countries are also pushing them at a very low price or even for free with cheap 2 year contracts.
Plus, these Android phones are everywhere. It’s hard even for regular people to not stumble upon them at almost any pricing range. So when they can choose a more functional, more intuitive and more modern phone at the same price or cheaper than many of the phones Nokia is still making, it’s really hard not to pick an Android phone.
This is why just 2 years ago Nokia was selling twice as many phones worldwide than Samsung and now Samsung is about to surpass them – and it’s all thanks to Android. It’s the same Android that Nokia dismissed a while ago because it would “commoditize” their business. But look where they are now. It’s not like Android hasn’t commoditized them already. It has. But not by using it themselves, which would’ve at least made them a strong player in the market, but instead they’ve been commoditized because of their competitors who do use Android.
Whether we’re talking about Symbian or WP7, Nokia is already forced to heavily discount their phones to be able to compete with Android. So in the end having their own phone didn’t make a difference anyway. It only made it worse. Nokia has to wake up to the reality that the vast majority of Symbian users that will be leaving for Android phones, will not be coming back or transition to WP7. Nokia will become a little more than a niche player in the market 2 years from now. They are already #3 in smartphones, but I seriously doubt they will be in top 5 for either the “smartphone” or the “phone” market.
So instead of patting themselves on the back for the phones they sold over the past 12-13 years, I think they should try to focus more on the future and what to do about it to remain a major player in the market.