Nokia N97 – when will they get that it’s not just about a touchscreen?

December 2, 2008
By

Om has a nice post about the forthcoming Nokia N97 Superphone to be released “sometime in the second quarter of 2009.” He says:

As for the 5800 Xpress, a friend of mine recently brought one to the U.S. and after I played around with it for an hour, my response was meh! The touch was OK, just like it’s OK on any other device, but it’s not as responsive as the iPhone. So no, it’s not an iPhone killer, not by any means.

The N97 however, seems, like a worthy competitor… it will be sold in the U.S., where it’s going to cost $650; it will go on sale in June 2009…

I agree with these comments, but I would add that none of these other mobile players, whether carriers or phone manufacturers, seem to understand what battle they are fighting. They seem to think it’s about touch screens and hardware. Even Om emphasizes the touch screen issue:

The very fact that Nokia is only now getting out touchscreen phones shows that as a company it is stuck in bureaucratic quicksand, with a culture of consensus that makes it difficult to respond to new challenges. Nokia — and I have been following them for a while — has become one of those companies that, much like Microsoft, is good with announcements, not so great with the follow-up.

Stuck in a “bureaucratic quicksand” perhaps, but it’s really more than that. Nokia is selling just another piece of hardware. At one time, that mattered, because that’s how the industry worked. Apple changed all that and nobody has really grasped the magnitude of it yet. Apple changed everything about the mobile landscape. It may seem the same, but it’s not. It seems few people really appreciate what happened. That’s good for Apple – bad for the all their competitors.  As long as Apple’s would-be competitors continue to respond in 20th century ways to the new 21st century mobile phone landscape, Apple will continue to run roughshod over the industry.

Nokia is offering a Do-it-yourself solution, where users have to bring their own carrier, service plan and applications. That’s never going to be an “iPhone killer” because it’s not the same market – it’s not the same battle at all.

The problems for Nokia and any would-be “iPhone killer” don’t end with simply realizing the situation they’re in. Once they realize it, they will also realize they can’t compete on the same playing field. Apple owns the hardware, the distribution, and the service plan. (I know people get an AT&T plan with iPhone, but it might as well not be.  It is an iPhone plan.)  Nokia can’t do this. They don’t have distribution or control over the service plans. The carriers can’t do this. They don’t have Apple’s expertise at controlling the hardware. And most importantly, none of them have the App Store.

It’s not about the hardware.  If it were, Apple would already be in trouble. Compared to many other mobile phones, including many of those from Nokia, the iPhone is a piece of junk, hardware-wise. Apple isn’t winning because their phones are better. Apple is winning because the experience is better. People can actually use the iPhone. Ordinary non-technical people are doing things they have never done before on a mobile phone – things they would never do on a Nokia or other DIY solution.

Nokia may do fine in the DIY niche they’re in – but they will never have anything approaching an “iPhone killer” unless they make a bunch of acquisitions and change who there are.

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4 Responses to Nokia N97 – when will they get that it’s not just about a touchscreen?

  1. December 3, 2008 at 8:03 am

    thankss super tel.

  2. Nokia Themes
    October 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

    the xpress music is a great one in my eyes. I used it a couple of times from a friend and really like it.

    i agree with your points though.. touch is not everything

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