9/15/2010 12:15:00 PM
Nokia strikes back
‘Nokia is back!’ came the cry from Nokia markets executive VP Niklas Savander on the opening day of Nokia World. Savander based his claim on a salvo of four new smartphones unleashed at the London event: the N8, E7, C7 and C6.
He was also quick to remind his audience that Nokia sells more phones than Android and Apple combined – and it is also the world’s largest smartphone vendor. Fair enough, Nokia still dominates in terms of sales and volumes, but it doesn’t in terms of technology and the ability to capture the public imagination in the way Apple and now Android has done.
Its problem is that although it dominates in the low to mid-tier range, the average price and profit per phone is dropping. Nokia’s Q2 2010 profit was its lowest in eight years, despite good revenues. Higher-end smartphones tend to be more profitable, but the space is getting very crowded. Can Nokia carve out a space for itself in that segment and boost its profits?
Much depends on the N8 and how much consumers will like the Symbian 3 operating platform. The N8 seems to be a good catch up, but it’s not a game changer. Nokia says pre-orders are the best in a long time, so it may at least allow the Finnish giant to field a rival that stands up against the likes of the HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S and the iPhone.
In the meantime, what to make of the Nokia old guard disappearing? Anssi Vanjoki, executive VP of mobile solutions, is leaving in six months.
Chairman Jorma Ollila is to exit in 2012, and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is stepping down as president and CEO to be replaced by Microsoft’s Stephen Elop.
It certainly gives Elop a free hand to rejuvenate the Nokia brand. But is he the right man for the job? Nokia needs a product visionary like Steve Jobs and Vanjoki was the closest it had to that. Elop does not have that reputation. The danger for Nokia is that it is making a lot of change merely to stand still.