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Communication and mobile news


Arrogance, the reason for Nokia`s downfall

15 February 2011

The resultant sum of two negative numbers is always a negative number. Though this operation holds true arithmetically, will it prove otherwise when it comes to business partnerships? Let’s hope so. Last week, the media was abuzz with reports of the big daddy of mobile handsets, Nokia, partnering with software giant, Microsoft. It doesn’t need an Einstein to figure that this was a desperate move by both companies to stop the dwindling sales of their handsets and save their faces.

So how did Nokia, who was once the undisputable leader in the mobile handset space, and Microsoft, a worthwhile contender in the mobile OS space, manage to botch so terribly that now they are in dire need for each others arms. Let us consider Nokia; this Finnish giant was too arrogant to notice the changing trends in the mobile user landscape. A little over a year ago, I asked a couple of officials from Nokia, which included their chief designer from Finland, that wasn’t is about time for them to come out with a dual sim product to counter companies such as Micromax, Spice Mobiles, Maxx Mobiles etc. While the Finnish designer refused to comment, the Indian official from Nokia was blunt enough to reply, “Who needs a dual sim phone anyway�. Post one year and you have the result of this arrogance. The company, which commanded two-thirds of the Indian handset market share, is now down to less than 50 percent. And this number still continues to drop.

Well it is not surprising that this drop in Nokia’s market share is due to the growing popularity of Google’s Android, RIM’s Blackberry OS and Apple’s iOS. However, there is more to it, for one most MNC’s talk about offering products for the Indian market. I am not sure if Nokia really adhered to this when it ignored the call for a dual sim handset. According to an article on, the apparent reason why the biggies in the handset manufacturing space avoided offering multi-sim phones was because of their closer ties with the operators in the western countries, where a majority of handsets are sold by the telcos. So while Nokia was busy pleasing the western telcos, it turned a blind eye to the needs of the Indian market.

Now the dual-sim story holds true in the Indian context, but what happened globally is another ball game. Few months ago I came across this interesting column on Nokia’s downfall by Matthew Lynn from Bloomberg. According to this article, Lynn explains that the handset maker was never in tune with the latest trends in the mobile industry such as the growing integration with computing and social networking. Additionally, the company was too keen in keeping its market share intact rather than create appealing products. Here I remember a line from the Bollywood movie ‘3 idiots’, where the protagonist, tells his buddies “Baccha kabil bano kabil, Kamyabi to sali jhak maar ke peeche ayegi�, which translates to “Son be worthy, success will follow without hassles�. I wish the top brass at Nokia took a lesson or two from here.

Now if you consider Windows Mobile, now known as Windows Phone, the OS was as good as the miniature version of Microsoft’s desktop OS. So it is hardly surprising that the OS never got users hooked on to it and the majority preferred Symbian. And with the advent of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, Windows Phone was never able to compete in the smartphone space.

Now that Nokia has found solace in Microsoft and vice-versa, it would interesting to see what fruits this partnership bears. And in this bargain, what happens to Symbian, Nokia’s affectionate mobile OS? Stay tuned.

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