We've all been rather blunt in writing Nokia off given their consistent drop in marketshare and inability to develop a presence in America. The company however has been slowly developing a strategy to regain its relevance. Despite the rise of Android and lesser known brands in India, Symbian holds close to 70% of the market (as of June 2011). Services built around mobile are becoming a differentiating factor for OEMs and Nokia has found three key services to focus on.
Phone as wallet
Google introduced Near Fields Communication support with Nexus S and rumors suggest Apple will be doing so too. NFC coupled with services like Google Wallet will be changing how people use phones. In India, Interbank Payment Service has been launched offering real-time remittance using phones. Nokia has partnered with the Union Bank and Yes bank to provide mobile banking facility to customers. The service is backed by Nokia's strategic investment in Obopay. With Nokia's Mobile Money, users can transfer money using the mobile app or in some cases use SMS for transactions. Airtel has a similar service called Airtel Money. Airtel has several registered merchants across North and South India accepting payments through Airtel Money.
Nokia's second service is location. Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook Places brought locations based services to the average user and Microsoft's Local Scout for Bing on Windows Phone reiterates the value in location. Nokia will be bringing geolocation services to its handsets. In a press release issued last month, Nokia outlined the strategy to tie location and commerce. Nokia's OVI Maps (now rebranded as Nokia Maps) and their Navteq acquisition position Nokia as a strong player in the location space. Talking about location and commerce, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said, "Focusing on location and commerce is a natural next step in Nokia's Services journey. We will provide next generation social-location applications and commerce to differentiate Nokia."
The third service from Nokia is the under-wraps coupon feature to be called Perks. Groupon, Living Social and Facebook Deals are three well known coupon services that have shown promise. Keeping aside the discussion around Groupon's IPO, group discounts and coupon services are growing rapidly. Nokia has kept Perks under wraps so far but a commercial spotted by enthusiast website ZOMGitsCJ, Perks brings together location and coupons on your phone as one seamless service. An excerpt of the transcript posted by ZOMGitsCJ explains a scenario on how Perks can be used:
A friend texts you asking you to book a table somewhere. Perks shows you the nearby restaurants with offers on them. With some of these, you book the table, right from your phone. When you get there, just say your name as usual, and it’s “right this way!” Easy booking, friends happy, money saved!
Coupons around where I currently am and being able to pay using my phone makes a powerful suite of services on a phone. In a country like India where Nokia already has a large user base, these services can help them maintain their dominance. In fact, their Windows Phone 7 powered handsets couple with these services might help them gain some followers in the US as well. Maybe Nokia isn't all that irrelevant.