I just don't get it. Apple is setting records for profits with the iPhone, Google is activating over 900,000 Android devices daily, Samsung is getting ready to launch the Galaxy S III across all major U.S. wireless carriers with record pre-sales already in the books, yet Nokia and RIM are on a downward trend with massive employee layoffs and falling market share. I seem to always support the underdog, I don't know if it is my sympathetic nature or if I just look beyond the obvious and find the technology compelling, but as a HUGE fan of the HTC One X with ICS and Sense 4 I am thinking it might be time to just stick with Android as my primary smartphone platform and give up on others. I follow the mobile space and am a major smartphone fanatics, but I am not a mobile company representative and don't have the answers myself. It seems to me there are smart folks at all these companies and you would think they would know how to stay successful when the market is so hot.
I have been a major Nokia fan since 2006 and really enjoy using the Lumia 900. I personally was excited when I heard that Nokia was going to launch future smartphones running Windows Phone because I like using the WP platform. I also enjoyed using Symbian and MeeGo and think that further MeeGo development could have led to some very compellig products (PureView MeeGo device would have been much better than a Symbian PureView device). Nokia gave up on Symbian and MeeGo too early in my opinion and now are struggling to stay afloat with WP as the primary platform. Tomi Ahonen has a detailed analysis of the impact of CEO Stephen Elop's decisions and it is quite disheartening. Microsoft hasn't appeared to care much about promoting Windows Phone and neither have other manufacturers so right now it seems to me that Nokia is out there leading the WP charge, but the crowd isn't really listening.
Nokia makes great hardware and the Lumia 800 and 900 are even rather unique in the Windows Phone space. There are a lot of junk Android devices, yet people still continue to buy them and Android is dominating the smartphone market. While I think Nokia has made better devices in the past, it really doesn't seem that hardware is the issue for Nokia.
Prior to the Windows Phone announcement, Nokia's market share was falling. This may have been due more to iOS and Android adoption though, rather than a vote of no confidence in Symbian. The latest version of Symbian, Belle, is actually a fairly powerful mobile operating system that functions much like Android. With continued development and promotion by Nokia, I think Nokia with Symbian and MeeGo would be more successful today than they are now with Windows Phone.
I am curious to hear what you think Nokia could have done to turn around the ship and succeed in the mobile space. Will they indeed end up being a Microsoft company? Is their future in question?
I've never personally been a heavy BlackBerry user, primarily because the small company I work for uses Exchange and will not roll out a BES for just a couple of folks so the experience was never as good for me. I enjoyed using physical keyboards in the past and RIM made some of the best, but the touchscreen ones have gotten so good now that I don't find a physical keyboard a necessity any longer. RIM dominated the corporate market and a few years ago really started reaching consumers with easy, turnkey solutions. However, they too are struggling to find their way in the current mobile space with recently announced layoffs and many changes in leadership.
Some are predicting RIM won't make it to BlackBerry 10 and from the little we have seen of it, BB 10 looks similar to Android in operation and functionality. I think large companies and government organizations will continue to purchase BlackBerry devices, primarily for security and control reasons, but as more and more people are bringing iOS and Android devices into the workplace this may not be a long term strategy that leads to success.
What can RIM do to stay competitive in the mobile space?
HTC was on top of the world for a couple of years with record profits and is seeing a major drop in profits lately. However, with their refocusing efforts and full support for Android I think they will continue to succeed along with Samsung and am not worried about their financial situation at the moment.
As smartphone permeate throughout all of our lives and start to become the standard purchase for mobile phone owners, what can Nokia and RIM do to turn around the downward trends? Is the writing on the wall for one or both? It is an exciting time to be in the mobile space, but also a sad time as long time leaders fall. Palm was first, but I fear they will not be the last.