Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Nokia: A Falling Star

Why Nokia is lagging in the tech race.
 by Brandon Janse Van Vuuren 

Smartphones today saturate the tech market with over 10 million active smartphone users in South Africa alone, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte. Years have gone by since the mobile giant, Nokia, constituted the biggest market share. The only thing that seems to be left of this giant's presence is nostalgia of the mobile game Snake.

Nokia has not only lost market share in South Africa, but across the world. Frequent job cuts have headlined news for years, and Nokia has been reporting losses since 2011 according to annual results published in 2013.

So what is the reason for this decline? According to various sources, one of the major reason for the decline is Nokia's hesitation to move forward, which is quite ironic for this once great innovator.

Wayne Lam‪, Senior Analyst at IHS technology, said: “They [Nokia] didn’t make the leap of faith onto Windows Phone until 2011. Now they are suffering from their slow response." Various groups have criticised Nokia for their lack of innovation when it comes to the adaptation of MeeGo, the kernel/ linux based operating system that comes standard with the Nokia N9 range.

The slow response to the release of the iPhone and its market changing app-based operating system is one of the main reasons Nokia is left behind and one of its competitors, Samsung, flew ahead. Upon the arrival of the iPhone, Samsung was quick to retaliate with its flagship Galaxy S range and the adoption of Android OS, while Nokia held on to Symbian. Later, with the adoption of Windows Phone, also highly criticised, the mobile developer was left scrambling for innovations Android and iOS had already conquered.

These factors explain why Nokia fell behind, but the question now is why it hasn't caught up yet. IHS Screen Digest analyst Daniel Gleeson states in an interview with TechCruch that “Nokia vastly underestimated the importance of third-party applications to the smartphone proposition." He goes further to state that one of the main fallbacks is that Nokia never quite caught on to the app trend; or rather, they caught on too late. Simply put he says: "Consumers are attracted to smartphones for their ability to be more than just communication tools, and so the lack of apps hinders adoption."

Lastly, one of the factors that hinder consumer adoption is value for money. According to a review conducted by cellphone compendium, GSM Arena, where the new Nokia 1520 is compared to the Galaxy Note 3, they concluded: "Adding the more balanced software package of the Galaxy Note 3 to the very closely matched hardware on the two devices, makes the Samsung phablet the better all-rounder. In many markets the stylus-touting phablet is also notably cheaper..."

In nostalgic fashion, I long for the days where Symbian ruled supreme, but the sad fact is that it will take a lot of hard work for this giant to regain its market share and impress the masses once again.