Nokia is facing some serious issues some of them are technical, but the major issue right now is how it can rebrand itself as a smartphone manufacturer (rather than just a mobile phone manufacturer).
A bit from history,
Xerox invented and popularized photocopy machines to the extent that “Xerox” is a synonym for a photocopy.
It invented the concept of WIMP (Windows, Icon, Menu and Pointing Device) but even then it cannot capitalize on the emerging era of computing in 80’s and 90’s. After 25 years of effort and spending 2 billion dollars, it is still nowhere in the computer business. Why did they fail?
Xerox was (and is) a big brand but of copying and not computers. The perception of Xerox has become so strong to convey photocopying that consumer cannot think of it being associated with computers. Had they tried a different brand name things might have been different.
Now consider present-day Nokia‘s situation,
Symbian is still the world’s largest used OS in the mobile market (even in so-called smartphones), in 2008, Nokia acquired and open-sourced Symbian OS. But over a period of last four years, Nokia’s share of the smartphone market has fallen from 62% to 37% global unit shipment which clearly shows that Nokia has lost the limelight in the eye of consumers especially its Symbian OS whose share in the USA is mere 2%. Its Ovi-store launch was such a disaster, even die-hard Nokia fans are leaving it. Recently, Sony left Symbian foundation followed by Samsung, leaving Nokia as the sole phone manufacturer of Symbian based phones. Now, the Symbian Foundation website (including the online source code repository of Symbian OS) is planned to shut down making it closed-source for all practical purposes.
Nokia is still a big mobile phone brand but not a smartphone brand. Most people perceive Android and iPhone as smartphones (and Blackberry as enterprise phones/business phone), the same is reflected in the preference of many internet companies, some companies like Twitter have no official Nokia app at all while some others like Facebook first release apps for Android/iPhone and later on for Nokia. Symbian as a brand never existed in the eye of consumers except for the tech-savvy ones, and now even developers are coying away, it seems that in the internet-centric world of today, Nokia has to take some tough decisions lest it is ready to become the next Xerox.
Nokia has to accept the fact that not only rebranding Symbian as a smartphone Operating System is tough at this stage but also being a hardware-centric company; it is tough for Nokia to bring Symbian to the level of Android/iPhone. Nokia brand is not about smartphones and let’s accept that it can never be (just like Xerox cannot be about computers). But Nokia has an option to rebrand itself for its smartphones, Android, the phone which revived Motorola and helped HTC gain market share. The issue of Nokia using Symbian has been raised time and again till it was dismissed by Nokia
Anssi Vanjoki, outgoing head of Nokia’s smartphone division, likens mobile phone makers that adopt Google’s software to Finnish boys who “pee in their pants” for warmth in the winter. Temporary relief is followed by an even worse predicament. [source]
Note: The example of Xerox has been taken from “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate them at your own risk” by A. Ries and J. Trout (under Fair Use)
Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.