An Open Letter to NokiaTM Arun Kumar, 21 Sep' 2011
There was a time in the not too distant past when you were the king of all you surveyed in the world of mobile phones. People used to talk only in numbers when talking about mobile phone models – 9110, 6250, 8230, or almost any random four-digit number. Needless to say, they were all Nokia models.
Because those were the times when Apple reminded people of a fruit and not a phone; Android evoked memories of sci-fi movies and not mobile phone operating systems; Blackberrys went hand in hand with cool suits and shiny shoes and Motorola despite all its efforts remained a distant second.
It was almost akin to the PC era of the 1980s and early to mid-1990s when there were IBM PCs and IBM-compatibles. And now it increasingly looks like you have chosen to go down the IBM path. While IBM has exited the PC business, you have ceded both market share and mind share to the rivals who were nowhere in the mobile phone scene just a few years ago.
Look at you now, struggling to make both ends meet; having to see parts of your empire being gobbled up by rivals; being mentioned almost as an afterthought in the list of major players, as if you have lost your mojo.
So, what went wrong? How come you didn’t see what was coming? Did you misread the market or was it just plain arrogance of a market leader?
But, whatever the reason was, it is sad to see your current plight. The industry needs you to be a strong player; users want you to fight at the leading edge.
Yes, everyone is aware that you are betting on your recently inked pact with Microsoft. It certainly is a good move (the pact and not necessarily the bet) as Symbian was going no where. The bet may prove to be good in the short term, but remember, it’s the same Microsoft that developed DOS and Windows and sold it to anyone who wanted to make a PC. And please learn from what that did to IBM, which thought that it had invented the PC.
Also, even in the short term, just hoping that Nokia handsets with Windows Phone software will fly in the market is not enough. You will have to work doubly hard to make your handsets look sleeker, work better, and package it attractively. It's almost like wooing back your girlfriend after a nasty fight – difficult, but doable.
For that you will have to come out with a handset that is the best in the marketplace, much like how you used to do in your glory days of yore.
Lot of people still have the confidence that you have what it takes to come out with a game changing handset. The question is, do you?
A Former User
TM Arun Kumar is the Executive Editor of PC World India and has been covering technology since the time an 80386 was cutting edge and Internet access in India was still a few years away.