Nokia Nowhere


I have written about cell phones in the past.

Today’s experience proved that what I had stated earlier about the downfall of Nokia is correct.

My daughter wanted a new (smart) phone.

She came up with only two choices: HTC and Samsung. She was also specific about her preference for a mid-range Android phone. So there you go – no Nokia, no Symbian, no iPhone. She felt an open operating system is better and probably she was influenced by my HTC Desire HD phone. She did not want too big a phone, so the choices narrowed down to just two variants – the HTC Salsa and the Samsung Ace, both of which are priced around INR 14 to 15K (USD 300 to 320). She analyzed the models and came up with the pros and cons of these two phones. She also considered the HTC Wildfire and Wildfire S.

Once the brand and the exact model were chosen, the actual buying process started. After examining the online and offline options, the offline option of actually visiting a shop/mall to buy the phone was selected for the purpose of getting the feel of a brand new phone and check to see if it really works well as promised. Couple of shops were visited, but the above models were not available.

After locating the models at the Mobile Store, I went to purchase the same. All Mobile Stores are unique in their design – they are all small in size, say less than 600 Sq Ft or so, there are not many display models, there are only limited accessories. The phone brands are organized according to their popularity, I guess.

Previously, I have seen Nokia prominently. Nokia was the best-selling cell phone brand in India for, may be, a decade or more. Nokia has its own shops in malls, and has a good display position in electronic chain stores, no doubt. But Nokia’s influence has constantly dropped over the past couple of years, its market share also has dropped. Nokia has been under severe attack at the lower end by Micromax, Karbonn and the likes. It has also been under a brutal attack at the higher end – in smartphones, where it has ceded place to HTC and Samsung.

So, I was not surprised to note that Nokia was nowhere to be seen prominently in the Mobile Store. Almost all display phones were from Blackberry, Samsung or LG, and some other emerging brands. Obviously, the store will only promote brands which have a mass appeal, and Nokia seems to have lost that appeal which it enjoyed for a fairly long time.

I bought the HTC Salsa, a well-designed phone from HTC – simple and elegant. My daughter was very happy in getting this phone. We have to see the performance though, but given my experience with HTC phones over the last 3 years, I am confident that the new phone will hold its ground. HTC seems to be constantly innovating, and its phones are now widely getting acceptance around the world. It is becoming a popular smartphone brand in India.

So, my conclusion – forget Nokia. It has fallen out of favour, and has not been keeping in touch with the fast-changing consumer tastes.

Welcome to the new world of smartphones. My recommendation is the same as that of my daughter’s : go for Samsung or HTC. Both seem to have mastered the art of making innovative Android phones with sleek touch interface and advanced features. Check these out for your next cell phone purchase !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
22nd August 2011
(Today is a public holiday in Mumbai !)
Mumbai

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