Nokia staging an epic comeback at CES 2012 to regain U.S. market share?
But things weren't always like that, you know. Back in 2002, when the manufacturer was under the guidance of Jorma Ollila as CEO, Nokia controlled a spectacular 35% share of the phone market! That's as much as Nokia has had in the U.S., so it wasn't always a stranger to the U.S. customer. But what has happened since then? What has caused such a drastic decline for the largest phone maker?
The biggest reason can be associated with the launch of the iPhone in 2007. That was the moment when Nokia suddenly lost its appeal and was no longer viewed as the premium handset manufacturer of the world. Of course, the iPhone wasn't the real reason for Nokia's consequent slump. It was the company's stubbornness and refusal to adapt to the new trends. It wanted to continue on its established course, without acknowledging the fact that there is innovation happening elsewhere in the industry – innovation capable of redefining the users' perception of smartphones.
Well, the iPhone has always been available globally, and Nokia's certainly doing better anywhere else in the world than in the States. Apparently, there's something else at play here. We should add two more reasons for this situation – the manufacturer's poor U.S. portfolio and the fact that its main business comes from developing markets.
When you look at the latest Nokia phones offered by a U.S. carrier, it becomes evident that it hasn't had much chance for a breakthrough. Right now, it is only T-Mobile that is offering Nokia devices, and these are the Nokia X2-01 and the Nokia 1616. We needn't explain that these are sub-entry-level featurephones. The products in recent past weren't much better as well. Ever heard of the T-Mobile 5230 Nuron, or the AT&T C3, or the Verizon 7705 Twist... See? Nokia has been trying to play the same game in the U.S. as the one it's playing in India, for example, and that's why things don't work out for it.
Getting back on the right track
Since the Finnish giant has recently made some radical changes in both its management and product strategy, we wonder if this will help it regain some of those lost positions. The first fruits bearing features of this recent shift have already launched in Europe – the WP-powered Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, but it seems that at least for now, they aren't the smash-hits Nokia hoped for.
Nokia Lumia 710 on January 11, and believe it or not, the Lumia 710 might be able to outshine many of the other smartphones available through the carrier due to its very aggressive price of only $49.99 with contract. For that amount, you're getting a 1.4GHz processor, 3.7” screen and a 5MP camera with 720p video recording. Doesn't sound like a bad deal to us, especially when you keep in mind that some inferior phones like the myTouch Q are available for $79.99 right now.
Nokia has always targeted the mass market, and this launch only reaffirms this approach. However, with phones like the Lumia 710, the manufacturer is playing a completely different game now, by actually offering a handset which can compete with the Android pack. Previously, there weren't many people who would choose to side with the S60-based Nuron, for example, as it could neither compete in the apps department, nor it anything else – even the entry-level Androids delivered a better user experience. Now, things are different, as the Lumia 710 can match, and oftentimes even best its competition in that very same aspect.
It's as clear as day, however, that a mass-market product like the 710 will not be enough to reestablish Nokia's brand on North American soil. The Finns are also in dire need of a hit product – one that can go head-to-head with the beasts out there. The kind of product that will not only sell well, but will also steal the audiences attention, so that people start talking about Nokia again.
Nokia Ace (aka Nokia 900), which is said to be an AT&T-bound Windows Phone smartphone with some impressive specs, including support for LTE. But that's the optimistic scenario. The slightly more realistic one involves the Nokia Lumia 800, designed for AT&T or maybe even Verizon, complete with LTE. Although not as pumped-up as some top-of-the-line Android powerhouses, the Lumia 800 can still prove to be a very good, highly-capable smartphone for the not so geeky user, if the price is as alluring as the one of the Lumia 710 for T-Mobile.
All in all, conquering the U.S. market will be a very, very bumpy ride for Nokia. It's certainly not mission impossible, though, so why not give it a try. By now, the Finns have discovered that their brand appeal is fading away as they are becoming more and more of a third-world phone manufacturer. They need to regain their lost positions in the U.S. if they want to make headlines again. For the purpose, Nokia will need some hit products and great marketing. No one can be 100% sure if a product is going to become a hit prior to launch. It's not all about the specs, and it's not all about the looks – it's the overall quality of the combination of all important device aspects, like its appearance, specs, software, performance... And even when you have finally nailed it, everything can turn into one big flop if you give the thumbs up to the wrong ad campaign (the Palm Pre is the “brightest” example in this respect). At least resources won't be a problem in this case, unlike with the Pre.
One thing is certain – this year's CES will be one of the most important ones for Nokia. The company is preparing something new for the U.S. crowd, but let's hope that it's something good, as Espoo doesn't have too many shots left.
What do you say, U.S. users - are you willing to welcome Nokia as a new big-time player in mobile, or you don't really believe that Stephen Elop and company will be able to unleash a product which is that cool?
1. OhSo3D (Posts: 39; Member since: 22 Feb 2011)
I honestly think that once the Apollo update goes live, and dual/quad core WP devices equipped with LTE, HD screens, and 1080p capture start becoming more common across manufactures, then playing ground is even throughout Android & WP. That's when I think that Nokia will be able to capitalize & hit home with gaining a solid U.S costumer base. But that's just my thinking.
3. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
very true.. but nokia must be willing to achieve this goal.. they need to realize that they arent apple… making a beautiful phone with a simple but useful interface doesnt work for them.. if they are only willing to achieve half baked phones then they are only going to het half baked sales
6. OhSo3D (Posts: 39; Member since: 22 Feb 2011)
That's true too, and you're right. It all comes down to what Nokia as a WP manufacturer is willing to do.
13. Ray.S (Posts: 250; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
I guess the hardest thing for Nokia will be to target just the right type of users with their marketing. WP is more of a closed experience, so it won't appeal much to the Android user. People eying the iPhone will be more likely to pick up a Nokia Windows Phone, but I guess Nokia will still have to be very aggressive with the pricing in order to lure as many of those reluctant to pay for an iPhone as possible.
22. DIYguy (Posts: 190; Member since: 27 Feb 2011)
Did you know that about 50% of android users aren't happy with their phones? Android is crap no offense to anyone, I'm not a hater nor a fanboy that's just how it is.
23. Glim12808 (Posts: 391; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
That makes me part of the other 50% because. I'm a happy Android user! But wanted a 2nd phone so decided to try a WP7 about 2 weeks ago. Now, I'm also a very happy user of the WP7 OS!
So I'm now a contented user of both Android and WP7!
4. Just_a_boy (Posts: 183; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
Nokia will make something big. The lumia 800 was just to make some noise in market, the real phones are coming.
7. nghtwng68 (Posts: 73; Member since: 26 Nov 2009)
Good point. The Lumia 800 and 710 are just a taste of something bigger and better to come.
20. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
Yes and what about the other oems like Samsung and HTC. WP ain't s**t without them. They started it all. And now MS seems like shoving them to the side for Nokia. Plain all around dumb! No wounder MS phone devision never made a slash. Now the they betting it all on ATT and Nokia? Good luck!
24. Glim12808 (Posts: 391; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)
I don't know where you get the idea that MS is shoving HTC & Samsung aside! In fact, HTC is coming out with the Radiant, a new WP7 flagship for HTC. Obviously, contrary to your comment, HTC doesn't feel shoved aside by MS.
And I doubt it's MS', or Nokia's, decision to go to AT&T. In fact it's the other way around: It is the decision of AT&T to open the door wide to WP7 phones also, as they have done to Android and iOS! If Sprint and VRZ where to do the same thing, I'm sure both MS and Nokia would just be too happy to jump in!
5. RazaAsad (Posts: 100; Member since: 24 Nov 2011)
@Ray S: very well-written and I do agree with every line.
PA needs more writers like you, "rational and analytic".
Now my comments: Nokia 800 is a good device but I guess Nokia needs to deliver better than that if it needs to bring things to a brand new level and to compete with beasts. If you talk about geeky users, they are more interested in what they are going to get from a device in terms of tech including built, features and looks but there is a big market of those not so geeky but fanboys who are "hay yo crap, icraptoo" so Nokia will need to do also its best in the marketing and brand recognition segment.
15. Ray.S (Posts: 250; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
Thanks for the positive reply! It's really motivating to see that readers are enjoying your work. :)
I agree that Nokia will have to do better than the Lumia 800. Not that it's a bad phone, but this isn't about keeping an established position, it's about making a complete U-turn in how customers see the company (especially in the U.S.), and for that, they'll need something much more impressive.
8. Landmarkcm (Posts: 410; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)
I love wp & switched back from Sprint due to there slow support of wp. And better data speeds on Tmobile. I was going to get the Radar but am holding out for the Lumia which appeals to me more overall. As this article states you get along of bang for your buck with the 710! & I even like the way it looks more then the 800. I dont see any reason why other people esp those looking for a great windowsphone device wouldn't want it. I hope Nokia succeeds! Cant wait to get mine in white & with that Happy New Year!!
10. rsiders (Posts: 232; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
But the Lumia 710 lacks front-facing camera support is visually less appealing in design compared to the Radar 4g in my opinion. The physical buttons just look old. I would encourage you to go with the Radar.It's a fun phone. I know cause I had one.:)
21. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
Who cares! Just get the products out and make the easily accessible, which MS is not doing!
27. Landmarkcm (Posts: 410; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)
I actually like from what ive seen the looks of the 710 best & want to see it in person before I decide betweeen it & the Radar. The front facing camera I would hardly use, I would rather have the nokia drive app & am curious to test the Nokias camera! I actually prefer the physical buttons as well and they look like there pretty flush with the device as well. So to each there own right.. But ya im holding out till the 11th..
29. Landmarkcm (Posts: 410; Member since: 11 Aug 2009)
With the reviews im reading coming in I have decided to go with the radar afterall! I have read it takes better photos and has a brighter camera flash which is impt to me as well. Nothing more compelling on the 710 afterall..
31. andresgalcia (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Jan 2012)
hey u know that nokia have the best hardware in the mobile marker, best camara with zenon flash, peaple they not buying nokia because they not using android as OS but let me tell you that sybiam, maemo or harmathat are better than apple, wp7 or android because those system are truly multitasking, apple get not even close in the ways that nokia device, if not because some hacker created cydia for iphone, iphone user wont know was is to be independent, like sending multiple mms to any phone carrier in any format, plays all kind of music without hacking the phone or adding music to the device not been affray that itune lock your device jajajajaja
9. rsiders (Posts: 232; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
Here's a thought: whatever flagship phone(Nokia 900?) they do present at CES, make an effort to get it on all major carriers instead of one. Doesn't that make sense. A premier Windows Phone for everyone. The carriers are competing against each other. It's the same phone that everyone wants, available to everyone that wants it. Carriers win. Windows Phone wins. Nokia wins. Most importantly, the customers (especially those not sided with ATT) win. Make it happen Nokia and Microsoft.
18. Ray.S (Posts: 250; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)
I agree. Part of the reason why the Galaxy S line was so successful was because it was available on every carrier in one form or another. Nokia has to do the same thing to get some decent exposure.
25. rsiders (Posts: 232; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)
Yes and Apple has done the same thing for the most part offering the iPhone on multiple carriers as well. It just makes sense to me. People want an iPhone, Apple made it available. Samsung had the right idea with the Galaxy S2. HTC and Nokia need to get on board with their offerings of flagship Windows Phones. I mean really, how many T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon WP users would object to the HTC Titan being offered on their network? I'm still hoping T-Mobile will announce that this year.
12. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)
Great article, I'm sure we'll hear more about Windows Phone and Nokia this year. I just hope Nokia brings on more design, range of prices, good support (hardware/software. And more apps of course.
14. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
Ok so every great WP is going to ATT and Nokia is going to be their top. So what happens to the HTC titan and radient, Samsung focus s and Mandel? Stupid stupid! Pitting WP against each other where as radiant and Mandel or titan and focus could go to tmo so the products won't overshadow each other and that's what Nokia is doing to the others. How is WP going to gain market share with this of bs strategy! f**k MS! Got the worst sales and marketing team!
16. Stuntman (Posts: 707; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)
I'm not sure what Nokia can do to make Windows Phone more appealing than HTC or Samsung has already tried to do. I personally need to be impressed with Windows Phone first before I consider a Nokia phone. I have used Nokia phones in the past and am impressed with them. Now, it's more about the mobile OS first for me when talking about modern smartphones. If Nokia made an Android smartphone at the time when I was in the market for one, I would seriously have considered it. If I were to buy one today, WP doesn't do it for me and Nokia won't make me consider WP.
I'll see what happens in a year. I'll be looking at possibly getting a new phone then. Perhaps WP will impress me more by then. If not, then I will not be considering any Nokia phones.
17. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)
Another complaint, do they expect customers to drop their carrier to join ATT for a great WP? f**k that! All I can say good luck MS with your ATT strategy. I estimate MS market share this year either be stale it continue to loose. Nokia is not MS savior! It sales, marketing, and making products easily accessible to all consumers, just like Android that will save MS. And those already with Att can and will say yippy jumping up for joy but they don't look at the big picture.
26. -box- (Posts: 3714; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
One correction I wanted to make on an otherwise exemplary article: T-Mobile is also selling the Nokia C7 Astound, and has been pretty aggressive with its pricing, though not with its availability or rep training on it. I had a rep try to convince me not to get the one I got because of all the returns they claimed to have had. Haven't had a problem with it, and it's already been updated to Anna.