Does Nokia have a future?

Summary:Nokia used to make some cracking handsets. Over the years I've owned several, and up until the iPhone, I'd have to say that the best handset I'd owned was the Nokia Communicator 9000i. But Nokia's lost its way, and if the leaked memo published by Engadget is real, newly appointed CEO Stephen Elop realizes just how bad a predicament the company is in.

Nokia used to make some cracking handsets. Over the years I've owned several, and up until the iPhone, I'd have to say that the best handset I'd owned was the Nokia Communicator 9000i. But Nokia's lost its way, and if the leaked memo published by Engadget is real, newly appointed CEO Stephen Elop realizes just how bad a predicament the company is in.

Here are just a few choice quotes from the memo:

"Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range."

"In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100."

"The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable."

"We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market."

"At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America."

"Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem."

For fans of Nokia (not to mention shareholders, that memo makes dismal reading. Is Nokia dead?

Maybe not. Go back and reread that last quote:

"Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem."

Nokia seems to have finally realized that Symbian and MeeGo just don't cut it. Consumers have turned their backs on Nokia's current platform, so it needs to get on with building, catalyzing and joining ecosystems ...

And that's what I think Nokia will do.

Here's my prediction - Nokia will bin MeeGo (or go down to just a single product as the memo suggests). It will also maintain Symbian but in a lesser capacity. Why? Because Europeans still like Symbian and dumping it would seem reactionary. But neither of these moves will revitalize Nokia. To do that, Nokia needs a platform.

But why settle for one platform. My prediction is that Nokia will do what HTC has done, and jump on the Android and Windows Phone 7. Android would give Nokia access to an already well-established ecosystem, while Windows Phone 7 would allow Nokia the opportunity to get in close to the start with a budding ecosystem. It a trick that worked for HTC, so there's no reason to think that it wouldn't work for Nokia.

Spreading itself between Android and Windows Phone 7 gives Nokia the chance not only to survive, but expand and flourish in an increasingly competitive market.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Nokia, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Software, Windows

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.