iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

Summary: Rumors of an iPhone Nano should be enough for Microsoft and Nokia to step up their games in the event that feature phones become the new target for Apple's empire.


I realize that this whole iPhone Nano chatter working its way through the blogosphere is just that - unconfirmed chatter. But let's run with the idea and consider for a moment that, if done right, a pint-sized iPhone could potentially revamp what is still the biggest market in mobile phones - the feature phones.

Feature phones, as they exist today, are largely scaled-down Web-enabled versions of the smartphones, equipped with the tools they need to bring up the sports scores, offer you some headlines, let you play some games, shoot some pics or even watch some videos. Facebook is even making it possible for feature phone carriers to do some social networking from these devices.

These sort of capabilities already exist on feature phone but the user interfaces have long been clunky as users tap a four-way navigation button like they're hammering out morse code just to see a gallery of the photos on the device. There has to be a better way - and, if anyone can find a way to improve the on-screen user experience, it's Apple.

Remember, the iPod was not the first portable mp3 player. But it took over the market because it wasn't afraid to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a new approach to the user experience on both the device and the computer-based software that managed the content - iTunes. Apple's iPhone also wasn't the first smartphone. There were others on the market before Apple - once again taking a fresh approach to the user interface - launched the iPhone and redefined what a smartphone should be.

While all the buzz may be around smartphones, they only account for about 20 percent of the global market, according to IDC data from late last year. Feature phones dominate in other parts of the world - notably, Asia and Latin America.

Here's where it gets interesting, though. The recently announced partnership between Nokia and Microsoft really should be kicking into high gear if there's any indication that Apple might have its sights set on redefining feature phones in the form of an iPhone Nano. As my colleague Jason Hiner noted in a post this morning, Nokia remains a big player in feature phones and has a reputation for quality hardware. But the software, Hiner said, has been lacking for years. That's where Microsoft, which has been marketing Windows Phone 7 as a platform for giving you quick access to what's really important in your life, comes into play. Together, Nokia and Microsoft can shake up the feature phone market by delivering what each of them does best.

Unless Apple does it first. Or better.

It's a big world and certainly there should be plenty of market share to go around between any and all players that want to come in rock the feature phone market. But, given what we've seen Apple do to the mp3 player and smartphone markets, it's worth waving a red flag in front of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop at this point in the game.

Apple may very well be on the prowl, fellas. If you're thinking about taking your time on rolling out this partnership, you might want to think again. Even the hint that Apple may be sniffing around that market that you had your eye on should be reason enough to kick things into high gear.

Consider yourself warned.

Related coverage:

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Microsoft, Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones, Telcos

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  • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

    Android feature phones already exists, and there is no need to sacrifice the size. LG Optimus One, 200 no contract, big screen. It's been selling like hot cake.

    Huwei is making some of them too. This is the year Android shakes up the feature phone market. That is why Nokia said their first priority is to beat Android.
    • But these rumours about iPhone Nano/Mini are mostly nonsensical

      @tatiGmail: Apple/Jobs would never do such thing.
      • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

        @denisrs Apple really should, they will make a killing. They will be first to market again. This time, "feature set" phones for the 14 - 18 yr old segment, then a seamless transition to the iphone from 19 yrs on.
    • It is not just the price, it is also the size of the phone. Many are very

      happy to give up features for a phone that is smaller and cheaper.
      • Now that's funny, DB because you said that the Kin was a failure because


        people <b><font color="#AF7817">aren't</font></b> willing to give up features for a smaller and cheaper phone.

        So you officailly changed your mind? ;)
        John Zern
      • John Zern: Apple will do it right, they will sell millions. And Kin was

        sold as a smart phone. But, we all know it was over priced, and more like a castrated feature phone with an expensive data plan.
    • Now, if LG could make a $400 10 inch tablet, WiFi only, no contract.

      That would also be a hit. Of course with Honeycomb.
      • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

        LG looks too plastic. That is the problem they have when selling phones. No matter of how advance they are, their look always is second rated. Other than that I agree with you.
        Ram U
      • I like LG. They did waste a lot of time with WP7, but look for them to dump

        that as soon as the inventories run out. But, don't expect them to be the quality of an iPad at lower price points.
  • Apple doesn't enter just for market-share it wants to suck up Profits

    like a Jedi vacuum cleaner.<br><br>Apple doesn't look around to enter markets just to get market share, it always wants to suck up all the profits.<br><br>If it gets into 'small' phones it might be as rumors suggest some kind of cloud based initiative i.e it's going to help lock entry level consumers into the Apple-iTunes ecosystem.
    • So what?

      Have you looked at their Market Cap lately? It's great!

      I don't care why Apple does what it does, as long as it keeps our stock prices at levels they're at, Apple can lock-in as many customers as they want!
      John Zern
    • Well, any way you look at it, Apple knows how to deliver on what consumers

      want, at the right price.
      • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

        "at the right price. "!?
        You can't be serious.
        The first thing that came to mind whenever I think about apple's products is that they're VASTLY overpriced.
      • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

        There are always those who question the price of Apple products but that does not apply to all devices. I suggest that you compare the 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab with the most expensive 10" iPad. In Australia, both devices were roughly the same price ie ~AUD$1,000. Yet, the Tab was smaller and had less features and so in real terms it was actually a much more expensive device. This is not a debate that the Tab or the iPad is the better product. I firmly believe in people buying the best device to suit their personal needs.

        As a second example, last year I was looking at all-in-one Windows 7 desktops. The 27" iMac to which I was comparing those was about AUD$2,050. All of the W7 AIO devices were at least AUD$200 more expensive than an iMac. The spec's might have been a bit better in some areas, but the monitors were much smaller.

        This is not a debate that Apple products are always cheaper. However, it is a debate that Apple products are not always as overpriced as some might want us to believe.
      • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

        "they're VASTLY overpriced." Good thing consumers are all different and place different values on products. Otherwise we'd all want and get the same thing, huh?
  • Many people do NOT want the features of an iPhone or the size of an iPhone,

    hence the feature phone market with screens too small to do all you can do with an iPhone (or Android phone). If anybody can figure out killer hardware and a killer UI to go with it, and buy the supply chain out to guarantee low prices and guaranteed flow of parts, it is Apple. While Nokia is trying to protect it's smart phone business with a failed smart phone OS, it could leave itself VERY vulnerable in feature phones . . . . .<br><br>Stephen Schlop Face will not last very long at all at Nokia <br><br>Pretty funny.
    • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?

      Apple is already pretty close to such a device. They could simply sell an iPhoneGS level phone with a dual CDMA/GSM chip for $200 without contract. Not really a big stretch since AT&T is already selling the iPhoneGS for only $49, the Verizon iPHone already has the dual chip and the iPod touch--with a much better screen and processor--sells for $229.<br><br>An iPhone like that would completely vaporize the "feature phone" competition because it would still have enough horsepower to run most apps and services, yet you could buy a voice only plan and simply use wifi for data. <br>Developers would love a cheaper source of iPhones and developing countries without 3G would love the cheaper price. Have you looked at the price of used, unlocked iPhone GSes, they're insane.

      Telcos could give away the phone for "free" with a two year contract.
      • If Apple can hit $200 without a contract, Nokia is toast. Apple WILL come

        up with the best combo of hardware / software / UI.
      • DonnieBoy, you're scared to death of this MS/Nokia deal

        now you're claiming "Nokia is Toast"?
        This really worries you. Go ahead, say whatever you wan't, the truth is out about you.

        The fact that the iPhone allowed for other smartphone by making then something people wanted, this will likely [b]help[/b] Nokia because this is an area they're good in, and will make this type of phone fashionable.

        Any way you look at it Nokia/MS are breaking out the champaign with this news. :)

        John Zern
    • RE: iPhone Nano rumors: Should Microsoft and Nokia be prepared for a feature phone battle?


      One of these days you might actually be able to afford a smartphone. When that happens, let us know. Until then you really don't have any knowledge of the subject.

      So back under the bridge...