2/25/2009 1:18:00 PM
Nokia’s game plan
A quick scan of the news in this week’s issue shows a melting pot of developments in distribution over the last few days.
Vodafone is pulling back from store openings and switching its attention to online, while Virgin is heading in the opposite direction, scuttling back to the high street to plug the gap left by Woolies and Zavvi. Carphone, on the other hand, is cashing in its chips from smaller marginal stores and betting them on its Wireless World concept. Elsewhere, Fonehouse continues its reposition from once solus-T-Mobile, while O2 and b2b dealers are at odds (depending on who you listen to) about the operator’s ongoing commission scheme.
But my favourite development is another round of tussling between Nokia and the operators. I would love to have sat in on the Nokia board meeting that sanctioned Skype on the N97. Did grins freeze like grease on a plate as the suggestion was tabled? (In my mind’s eye I picture something like the bemused colleagues of Mr Happy of Norwich Union.) Or was there some confident high-fiving? - ‘This’ll really have the operators chucking their toys out of their prams!’
Either way, adverse reaction is no surprise. Which begs the question: why do it? I don’t think Skype would swing it for me to buy an N97. A more machiavellian motive is at work. In spite of this, I’m pleased to see Nokia stick its neck out.
Operators have a lot of previous form for disabling things they don’t like (nobbling Wi-Fi on smartphones is a favourite pastime). They are scared of choice, whether it be in mobile music stores, connection method, etc, because they know if the customer is allowed to decide then they will not automatically win. Rather than tighten the thumbscrews on Nokia execs, operators should perhaps try a different tack: sharpening up their own game.