Nokia and the Art of Fulfillment

The current analytical buzz about Nokia’s mind and market share issues tends to be pessimistic, presupposing that the company has no chance of reclaiming its former glory days due to the unwitting tag-team onslaught of Apple and Android.  But this negative assumption arises from ignorance and forgetfulness.

It’s certainly true that customers have a stubborn inclination toward brand loyalty that can be difficult to unseat.  But Nokia was once on the positive side of that equation in areas where it now struggles (or has given up altogether).  What could keep it from returning to that former glory?

Nothing, actually. 

We all have examples in our lives of brand-switching.  All it takes is the proper incentive.  I’ve been a loyal Hewlett Packard customer for a long time, especially with their home office printers.  But it was the combination of quality and price that kept me in their camp all these years.  When my (discontinued) HP Photosmart C6180 recently bit the dust, and I was unable to repair it (not an impossibility with my background), I broadened the replacement search just in case the decades spent largely in the HP stable had led me to miss something.

After all, I’ve been an Epson customer, too, and open to reconsidering them.  In my product searches and comparisons I found that they had a direct purchase special on the Artisan 835 on their site and it had everything I needed.  $100 off for a short time!  I could find no similar deal for equivalent HP products, and indeed, was discouraged by reviews of what I did find.  So I bought the Epson and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Granted this is an isolated anecdotal example, but I think many people can relate.  A brand switch just requires a degree of dissatisfaction with the status quo and an attractive opportunity elsewhere.  After all, isn’t that what has led people to abandon Nokia?  First for Motorola RAZRs, next for iPhones and now for Android devices.

I’m sure most readers are aware that the top two competitors in any product or service class tend to play leapfrog every two years or so.  AMD vs Intel.  ATI (part of AMD although now rebranded) vs Nvidia.  Et al.  But it’s funny how so many industry analysts and armchair pundits seem blissfully ignorant of this competitive reality.  They are all too willing to crown a single participant as king and then dethrone him when the new kid in town shows up.

There’s plenty of nonsensical rumbling across the US mediaspace painting Nokia as incapable of creating compelling product.  Pure xenophobic garbage.  Blame the carrier-controlled market here for that lack of perspective, not the company that has produced innovation after innovation, most of which the typical American will never see.  On the other hand, blame Nokia for being overly-conservative with advertising and some product lines (like Maemo devices) that could have taken the US market by storm with the proper approach.

We tech and business bloggers have not been shy at all about jockeying for position as Nokia’s favorite at-large business advisor (guilty), and no need to get into that for now.  Suffice to say a comeback for any viable company, Nokia included, is entirely possible and anyone currently driving nails in the monolith’s coffin is acting irrationally.  Unfortunately, sensationalism outsells reason.

Let’s give incoming CEO Stephen Elop and company the benefit of the doubt.  They have every incentive, and plenty of resources, to succeed.  As I always say, Nokia just has to get out of its own way.


5 responses to “Nokia and the Art of Fulfillment

  1. I wonder what would’ve happened about 10 yrs ago when Nokia was criticized for not making clamshell phones, and the internet would’ve been as readily accessible as it is now. Sometimes I feel that now these forgetful voices are amplified 10-fold when anyone anywhere can get online and blab all they want.

    I think part of this pheonomenon is also the fact, that people read more online content and a lot of relatively young online content providers have risen to fame relatively fast. For example Engadget. They have quite a lot of power in terms of influence, and yet only a few editors for Engadget have in fact been around long enough to see the mobile industry get built starting from the rubber boots.

    This combined with the general trend of the tech industry moving towards mobile at a breakneck speed all of the sudden, no wonder so much attention is on anyone who falters the least bit.

    • You bring up a good point that I had overlooked: part of the tech churn is in media pundits as well. The younger they are, the less intimacy they’ll have with the roots of technological revolution.

      Just another example of where the world’s obsession with youth has gone a bit far…

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter to Stephen Elop « Tabula Crypticum

  3. I think your blog should have FB like button. So people can share your post.

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