Saturday, December 06, 2008

Mindshare vs. Marketshare

Nokia's announcement of their new flagship handset for the first half of 2009, the N97 (or perhaps just one of them?) got lots of buzz two weeks ago at Nokia World 2008.

The hardware specs are impressive and when handling the device, it does not feel too large in the hand. The form factor resembles a cross between the E90 and 5800 Xpress. They've added a decent battery but it still has a resistive non-OLED touch screen. Build quality felt ok.  The software is too alpha at the moment to really comment, but the device is running Symbian 9.4 with a version of Series60 edition 5 (same as the 5800) with extensions like Web Run Time widgets on the idle screen.

As many have commented already, the timing of the device entering the market may be a problem, as other device manufacturer's flagship devices will be refreshed or newly introduced by mid next year. This is normal as part of the device OEM roadmaps, there's always new handsets on the horizon, but a 6 month 'lead' time in today's competitive device landscape for a flagship replacement is a long time off.  I wonder whether Nokia wanted to 'get in first', pre-empting Macworld, Mobile World Congress, ceBIT 2009 to recoup some lost Mindshare.

Have Nokia really lost Mindshare this year?

A couple of subjective pointers from the conference lead me to the belief they are now playing catchup:

  (i) Having attended previous Nokia World events this is the first time I've seen the competitor devices acknowledged and openly mentioned comparing the G1, Blackberry Storm and the iPhone to the new N97 by Anssi Vanjokki during the ketynote speech.
  (ii) Several of the Execs wandering round the event were using iPhones. 2 years ago Execs would have been touting the latest Nokia flagship handset.
  (iii) The Ovi email service (see previous post on wondering where Ovi email was) is late in coming to the market, although the upgraded  Ovi Maps has potentially leapfrogged ahead of say, Google Maps (too early to say).

The N97 would have been on the drawing board 12 months ago, if not longer. During that time whilst Nokia's Marketshare has remained stable the Mindshare drifted to Nokia's competition. The Sony Ericsson X1, the HTC Max 4G/G1, Samsung Omnia, PradaII, Apple iPhone, RIM BB Bold/Storm etc... are all vying for the top slot and have been the focus of consumer attention in mobile devices in 2008 (versus Nokia's N96 and 5800 Xpress).

All of the above manufacturers will have new flagship devices in mid 2009 to compete. So, whether 2009 Nokia devices and the N97 can regain the top slot flagship product and get back some Mindshare remains to be seen ...