back to article Nokia, Apple and Sudden Extinction Events

Every day brings fresh gloom for Nokia - and the criticisms are now so familiar I won't elaborate on them. But I was struck by a recent observation likening Nokia's plight now to Apple's in the mid-1990s. It seems absurd, at first - Nokia is still turning a profit in the billions, while Apple's annual loss was in the billions …


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I think Nokia has a long term plan rather than a short term. Everyone is jumping on the Android bandwagon, but Nokia is working on MeeGo which is their answer to Android. Maemo though is pretty darn good, I own an iPhone and an N900, since I got the N900 I haven't even bothered to charge the iPhone (the N900 is that good).

The problem (I believe) is that Nokia never really penetrated the US market place, they were huge everywhere else but Americans preferred American phones (go figure) so they naturally prefer the iPhone and any other US based device, Nokia was always fighting a losing battle on that front, the yanks just don't get it, Nokia phones are better than Apple phones, but the yanks would rather have an inferior phone than an European one.

Will Nokia manage to fight back with a killer phone? I don't know. They can't compete with Android, no one can, Android is in a class of it's own with anyone and their mother being able to release an Android phone with a huge ecosystem. It can however bring out incredible high end mobile phones, and if MeeGo is a success (which I hope it is) they may just do that.

Should Nokia be worried? Not really, they produced a mobile which is the most bought electronic device on the planet, ever, selling more of that model than Apple sold iPods.

I would however get someone to address Ovi, it's pants, and Nokia Maps takes too long to load on the N900 compared to Google Maps on the iPhone, apps wise, Maemo is Linux, just compile it in scratchbox and hope, but the N900 is more a geek device than a phone, but damn it's a gorgeous bit of kit.

Me though, I'd bring out a version 2 of the N900 with capacitive rather than resistive, I'd bring out a new version of QT designed specifically for mobile development, add .NET (mono) to Maemo native so people can hack in C#, I'd make minor tweaks, but yeah, the N900 just ticks every box, including the "blinds niece when she takes a photo of herself and the flash blinds her" box.

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I agree with you

I've not even bothered with my iPod touch since I got the N900. Its terrific hardware and impressive Linux OS.

Unfortunately, Nokia dropped the ball on minor UI issues making the N900 quirker than necessary - its so hard to believe !!.

Nokia's problem is of its own doing, its almost as if it is trying very hard to FAIL; could sabotage may be at work over there I wonder ?. How else can one explain the decision to spend ages transitioning Symbian to open source without any effort to improve its UI first and foremost. Nokia has made life so easy for Android, iOS and RimOS. The N8 is great hardware and is also packed to the grill but its bound to be let down by lousy Nokia marketing. Lets see what the new mobile exec Anssi does.

As for me, I'll stick with Nokia - its all about the tech (HDMI, Xenon, writeable data paging, Dolby sound, full Linux etc) for me but I am not a very fashionable person, sadly for Nokia there are not a lot of us to go round

Anonymous Coward

Nokia is coasting w/o a direction

I remember the Graphic Artist Apple People. Most of the ones I knew were really smart people that had no clue about computers. You'd expect intelligence to cover that base, but with these people, it didn't. It was some left brain/right brain thing, perhaps. I remember one of them not understanding her Apple didn't have enough memory to hold a full-size scan from her scanner, so she thought scanning stuff at high-res was "working the computer too hard" and could break it. Honest. "Don't pick 1200dpi, you'll break the computer" [facepalm]

Anyway, Apple had one niche market completely covered, which kept them alive until the breakthrough of the iPod, which was pretty much the opposite of the Sudden Extinction Event.

Nokia no longer has any must-have products. Their phones are no better than commodity Android phones, and they no longer have the brand recognition. Nokia is now the Dell of cellphones. At least among the people I talk to, Samsung and HTC are considered higher quality than Nokia. "Why would I get a Nokia, I want a *good* phone...?"

Their internet tablet effort has lost its way and fragmented into at least 3 Linux-derivative OSes, and the hardware is no different from an Archos tablet available for 1/3 the price with a better OS. The N900 and latest Maemo/Meego/whatever OS are not compatible with the old N770/N800/N810, so they screwed their first-adopters that stuck with them for several years and iterations, who've now left for fresher territory. This is from a guy that loved his N800, but had no choice but to get a Droid. None of the apps I wrote function in the latest version of Maemo. Since I had to rewrite them, I did so in Java for Android.

You could never get their Communicator smart phones in the states, and when they brought the N900 over, it's with the vile T-Mobile bunch who couldn't keep 2 tin cans and a string in continuous operation. I've had T-Mobile "service" and not even a free N900 could tempt me back.

Nokia's got enough inertia and money to last about 2 more years, is my bet.


Copy the addressbook to a SIM? You gotta be kidding

SIM as data storage is dead. Nobody in his sane mind keeps any contacts on the SIM any more.

There will be less than 10% of the information left when copying a phone addressbook to a SIM. Secondary phones, addresses, notes, labels, etc are all going to bite the bullet in the process.

Copying to a PC (or online service like scheduleworld) and back is a usually more successful, but even in that case some data will be lost. Add to that map coordinates, routes, bookmarks, etc and the picture becomes very similar to Apple vs MSFT around the end of the nineties and beginning of the naughties.


Hurray for bogus numbers.

Every 27,000,000 years? Is someone somewhere timing asteroid trajectories to reboot the planet?

No, it's just an average with a huge variance.


It's not all about the phones

Nokia, don't just make phones you know. Yes, that is probably their best consumer device, but they also make a lot of other electronic devices, but you'd be hard pushed to find any information on their corporate website.

Back in the late 90's early 2000's, I remember when Nokia was THE default choice for a phone for me and many others.

Back then it was either Nokia or Eriksson (pre Sony)

For me, it was a no brainer, especially with the metal 8850 and the small, but perfectly formed 8230? I owned both and the 8850 was very good. Eriksson were still producing mobiles with one or two line displays. No good for playing snake on. :-)

The last Nokia I owned was a N82 back in 2007/2008. I just couldn't get on with the interface at all. It's the same for my work phone a E71. The interface is slow and clunky and very un-intuative.

I haven't seen anything of their new OS, but it's got to be an improvement on what they currently have.

Beer, because it's Friday.


I was part of that survey

If it is the one I am thinking about and wa an absolute monster and nightmare.

I gave full marks for the N900 but on every opportunity to reccomend them refused due to their abysmal, near non existant level of support.

Anonymous Coward

Nokia's direction and stuff

Nokia have just gone through quite a managerial reshuffle, lots of projects canceled etc. They are about to launch the N8 (which is almost as good as the iPhone but for half the price). They have some really quite interesting phones coming up for Symbian (last of line I would imagine, but all very good), and they have Meego in the offing.

I think there is life in the old dog yet.

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There's a flaw in your logic...

Your logic that there's a sudden death is flawed.

You state that Palm died. If anything Palm is in Limbo until we know what HP plans to do.

(Palm is Schrödinger's cat)

Apple enjoys a much higher Q rating globally than Nokia. Apple also has a diverse product line while Nokia is strictly a telecommunications company.

You're right that there is less of a barrier to competition... just buy a new phone and swap out the SIM card. Apple? Not so easy.

Nokia needs to definitely improve upon their phones and I believe that their partnership with Intel (Meego) will help create a noteworthy phone OS and then app.

The only thing that Apple has is Jobs. I don't believe that Nokia has anyone who can fulfill the role Jobs has.

If anything Apple is emulating Nokia with their latest acquisition. ;-)

Not that I'm a Nokia or an Apple Fanboi.

There will be no sudden extinction. Just look at Sybase. ;-)


Apple never gambled, they took their users through well charted compatible waters.

Andrew Orlowski writes, "Apple could afford to annoy partners and customers as it fought its way back to profitability. It did so again with the move to Mac OS X, before it was ready. Each time Apple gambled that customers could endure a bit of temporary pain. That's not the Finnish way"

Temporary pain, are you kidding me?

The movement that Apple did from M68K to PowerPC was seamless... the old software ran and the new machines were faster with the native software. There was no pain.

The movement that Apple did from MacOS9 to MacOSX was seamless... the old software ran and the new platform was more stable, offering many more features. There was no pain.

The move from PowerPC to Intel was seamless... the old software ran and and the new machines were about the same speed. Once again, there was no pain.

Apple's way had been to make it seamless for it's user community. All of the other system vendor ever took their user communities through such courses, survived, and grew.

One of Sun's greatest mistakes when migrating from 68K to SPARC and then toying with x86 to bring it back full force. Software compatibility between architectures was lacking, limiting software for the user community, so Sun tried to concentrate on binary compatibility within SPARC family. Sun tried to do an "Apple" by moving all of their software to Java, to give them cross-compatibility between Intel & SPARC (and other RISC architectures) - but the complexity was not as seamless to the user community as Apple's was.

All the other major UNIX workstation and midrange system vendors who tried migrating from M68K to a RISC architecture (from Motorola 68K) are pretty much dead or mitigated as a minor player. Apple's desktop workstation market seems to have survived as unique entity on Intel with MacOSX (migrating to a UNIX system based upon NextSTEP.) The only two big RISC's left are Oracle/Sun/Fujitsu SPARC and IBM POWER. Sun's Java helps make software compatible for both vendors, the unintended consequences of Java everywhere also made software available on clone platforms (clone x86 and clone linux) that the surviving RISC UNIX vendor have no control over.

Apple did not make the Java mistake, either. (This could be the factor involved with Flash under iPhone that Steve Jobs is trying to navigate around.)

David Webb posts, "the yanks just don't get it, Nokia phones are better than Apple phones, but the yanks would rather have an inferior phone than an European one."

Ummm... no...

I tried an American phone, but web access was horrible. I tried an Asian phone, but web access was horrible. I tried an iPhone, and the web experience was WONDERFUL. At the time, there was no European phone with great internet experience.

I have owned the same old iPhone for over 2 years and now, I am interested in compatibility with my contacts, mapping, recorded movies, recorded tv shows, photos, notes, personal email, exchange email, music, television connection cable while traveling, and calendaring.

Will a European phone sync to a home Macintosh as well as to a work PC for all of these items?

I kind of like the applications on the iPhone, I have over 100 on there, and most of them get use (I only removed 4 or so.) It is not perfect. (I want my bluetooth keyboard, bluetooth stereo headphones with microphone, bluetooth printer, and bluetooth mouse!)

At this point, I don't see another option. I need something compatible with home, work, and hotel. Apple seems to be the only game in town.

Unless Apple really screws up, I don't see anyone else coming close for awhile. Google Android has the potential to come close... let's see how the MacOSX compatibility comes along!

Compatibility with what the user community is expecting is the key...


Asian markets

The presumption is that Nokia will fail because it's not doing well in the US and parts of Europe where Jobsian trendiness is popular.

Fact is that Nokia sells vast (and I mean *vast*) amounts of standard feature phones to Asian markets. It's the feature phones they always did best and still do. S40 is still an excellent phone OS. Makes calls, sends texts, plays tunes, nice ringtones. Satisfies the majority.

They could abandon the smartphone market entirely if they liked and still be the number one mobile seller.

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Dead Vulture

"They copy the address book to a SIM, and off they go"

If they want to mangle their contacts and lose their messages/MMS/e-mail/notes/calendar/todo list/photos/videos, they do.

Ye gods, how can someone write what is supposedly a serious comment piece about a mobile phone manufacturer with something like that in the same article...

The problem is basically Nokias aren't trendy and if that weren't enough their US marketing division couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery. From the US point of view, Nokia has been dying for years, much like BSD.


"Nokias aren't trendy"

Indeed. The 6310 was *the* business class phone of its era, but to call it "trendy" would be wrong.

My other half still has my old 6310, even though we get offered a new phone every couple of years, she prefers the 6310. It's a phone, it works, it isn't fragile.

Currently I have an E65. Maybe it's not trendy, but it does pretty much everything I want it to, and unlike the WindowsCE kit I have experienced from HPC2000 through PocketPC to Windows Mobile, its implementation of Series 60 is stable in normal (and occasional abnormal) usage. I was a bit disappointed with the backup/restore utility which (after a firmware update) refused to restore anything, but Nokia's PC software has always been a bit off, ever since my first 6150.

My next phone, maybe later this year, may be a Linux thing. Maybe. But it'll primarily have to be a decent phone, unlike (say) the Judas phone.

And a +1 to all the folks who said what kind of idiot uses a SIM for address book (and PIM in general) info these days. uSD card maybe, but then there are (I assume) compatibility or transportability issues to address? [Maybe the yanks still don't really know what a SIM card is yet? ;)]

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Nokia has spent far too long building products for their customers to the detriment of everything else.

The problem is that their customers are/were the Telco's and not Joe Public.

Their low end phones these days are utterly cheap and plasticky. I have no idea what their supposed high end products are like because there is no way in gods green earth that I would ever buy one.

I could never understand what people saw in Nokia's products. I've never seen one that wasn't 'orrible, but of course this is just IMHO & YMMV

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There are still many many Nokia fanbois

I'm one of them and was chuffed to win an X6 with a years Comes With Music at the beginning of the month and should also be getting one of the Booklet 3G's from WOM World on a trial basis. They seem to be throwing money at new media at the moment along with everyone else. As you said they are still making BILLIONS! Sorry for the caps there, got a bit excited butyeah , billions is not small fry in this economy. Big up Nokia BOOYAH.

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