Nokia at 'crisis point': iPhone and BlackBerry impossible to beat?

Summary:Though Nokia has the most mobile sales across the market, iPhones and BlackBerrys are beyond competition. Could the development cycle of 'too many too soon' apply to Nokia's case?

The news today that Nokia is at 'crisis point', a warning given by the company's chief executive Stephen Elop, will not come as a surprise to the vast majority of consumers.

Elop's memo to the company blames Google's Android operating system and other rival handset manufacturers like Apple taking a share increase. While the company holds the mobile sales figures, the share is declining.

The fact of the matter is that for the Generation Y, Nokia was everything ten years ago. Today, the mobile market is swamped by BlackBerrys and iPhones and frankly, Nokia has not kept up.

The development process could be key.

Even though Nokia releases a new phone every other month, some simultaneously along the same series, the path that Nokia has taken is too complicated. Nothing yet truly competes with the BlackBerry range or the iPhone, arguably because Nokia has not been trying to, whereas others have tried and failed.

The iPhone and BlackBerry devices and platforms alone are in direct competition, and dominate the marketshare.

Nokia may well have the looks and the physical attraction to their vast quantity of phones and devices on the market, the goods, features and applications within them lack lustre.

For Apple, the timeline is quite simple. A newer phone of a subsequent generation takes over the previous. And while there is some overlap between the outgoing and the up and coming device, the generational cycle is simple and consistent.

Even with Research in Motion's development path, though there is a wider range than the iPhone than one singular device per generation, the devices are tailored for younger users - as more of a by-product than anything else. The younger generation has hijacked the BlackBerry from the enterprise and corporate environment to recreate the business experience, adopting a young professional but social persona.

For Nokia, though, there are so many phones with very little to differentiate one from another. Arguably there is more consumer choice and customisability, but a sincere lack of consistency between devices. It is too difficult to know which device is 'progressive' or if it is simply a relic from a previous model with a slightly different case.

For us growing up, Nokia was everything. I first remember the want and desire for what was then a Nokia 3310 back when I was only 12 years of age. The customisable backgrounds, the personalised operator logos and the manually added ringtones were of such desire.

But now, with downloadable applications, touch-screens and QWERTY keyboards and reliable and on-demand media and messaging, one has to question whether Nokia can not only keep up but even stay in the game.

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Hardware, iPhone, Nokia

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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