In an interview with Pocket-lint, Niels Munksgaard, director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales at Nokia Entertainment Global said the youth of today are fed up with iPhones and Androids are too complicated and insecure. My informal analysis of the situation shows that yes, many people do think Android is too complex but I am not sure security on mobile devices is a main concern of consumers. Regarding Apple, it is very possible he is right but the flipside to this argument is that Apple consumers are locked in.
Consider the fact that once you switch to another phone manufacturer, your apps no longer work and your chargers don’t either. Then there are podcasts, iTunes music and the ecosystem of devices you may have such as alarm clocks with built-in connectors. If you have a tablet, the odds are it is from Apple as well. Does it make sense to have a phone from a different company that won’t sync with iCloud?
Interestingly Munksgaard says the company’s approach will to be different in a sea of sameness. This was Apple’s slogan and still is. Making this statement a huge challenge. How do you out-different the king of different? Moreover, Apple is not only different it or Steve Jobs anyway was ahead of the curve giving us a tablet which the world embraced even though Microsoft had tried to do this a few times and failed. They finally gave us music players we wanted although music players had been around for years. Moreover, the PC Ultrabook market was launched to take on the Macbook Air – another product we didn’t know we wanted.
The challenge is not only to be different but to know what consumers want years ahead of they do and invest potentially billions of dollars in a supply chain which allows you to meet market demand and get ahead of other companies ready to imitate your every successful move.
As my long-term readers may recall, Nokia beat the iPhone to market with a superior tablet the N800 priced very reasonably and supporting Flash a few years before the iPhone appeared.
The challenge with the device was it needed a stylus and wasn’t very easy to use. Otherwise it was superior to the iPhone in virtually every way.
What this tells me is the Nokia of yesterday couldn’t beat Apple with a superior product!
Today the company believes the Lumia 800 is the answer to the iPhone and although I haven’t had a chance to have a hands-on review – it doesn’t seem so revolutionary. And when you go up against Apple, you need to do something not only different but better. Sure, a single piece of colored polycarbonate is a great touch but is it enough for me to say goodbye to every edition of Angry Birds I have ever purchased? Probably not.
Nokia really dominated the US cell phone market in the nineties and the story goes the company was unwilling to work with US wireless carriers to give them the specific phone functionality they requested (read: disabling some features and functions such as bluetooth sharing etc.) so they lost share rapidly.
This in turn allowed Apple to take over the market rapidly wiping away just about everyone immediately and RIM more slowly.
The only thing which has slowed Apple down so far is the abundance of amazing Android-based phones. And Nokia too could become a winner if Windows Phone 7 devices start to catch fire in the market.
There are a lot of “ifs” here and we will have to look at Apple’s earnings closely next quarter to see if the iPhone 4S is the winner it hopes it is. As I have mentioned before it is a good phone but not a blockbuster. I still think a phone with a larger screen can generally beat the iPhone in many head-to-head comparisons as there is so much mobile video and web surfing going on these days. And Siri needs much more polish.
But saying young people are sick of Apple may be premature. I agree that consumers are fickle and will leave Apple if there is a far better product at a lower price. Lance Whitney reminds us that Samsung has shown it is possible to take on Apple and grow like crazy. So has HTC. But then again much of this growth has been riding the Android wave. Only time will tell if consumers are really tired of Apple and ready to embrace Microsoft – the same company they have likely been using on their laptops and PCs for many many years.
Disclosure: I own Apple shares.