Nokia has launched its latest smartphone, the N9. But the device does not run on the Windows Phone 7 operating system, surprising many analysts.
Instead, the N9 is running on the MeeGo platform, which Nokia is set to ditch in line with its plans to focus on the Windows Phone 7 operating system.
Stephen Elop, Nokia’s CEO, said: “Our primary smartphone strategy is to focus on Windows Phone. I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows Phone platform later this year, and we will ship our products in volume in 2012.”
The N9 smartphone shows a glimpse of what future Nokia products might look like. It has redesigned the user interface to create a more intuitive experience, such as through the use of swipe gestures and easier pairing with Bluetooth devices.
For example, users through the use of the phones Near-field Communication technology, can simply tap a pair of speakers with the device to start streaming music.
The body of the phone is also sleeker, and does away with a “home” button – allowing for more screen space. But the use of the MeeGo platform has raised some eyebrows.
Bryan Ma, Associate Vice President of IDC, said: “If one were to look at the N9 at face value of the device itself, then concerns could be raised about using an OS that doesn’t have much of an ecosystem yet, especially when Nokia has already said that the future of its smartphones is on Windows Phone instead.”
“But when one looks beyond the OS, the N9 is encouraging in that it shows what kind of effort Nokia is putting into interface development. If they can apply that to future products (including those on Windows Phone), then they stand a chance to differentiate themselves from the crowd when they launch new devices in the upcoming years.”
Nokia is hoping to regain its market share with devices on the Windows Phone 7 operating system.
Still, in order to gain favor with more consumers, analysts said the company will need to focus on introducing a wider variety of smartphones and making them affordable. But it is not going to be easy for Nokia because of tough competition from rivals such as Samsung.
“The Introduction of competitively priced Android-based devices coupled by strong marketing have been key to Samsung’s success. The Thailand market is a good example. Samsung is focusing on models priced between $150 and $300 to gain smartphone market. Android-based Galaxy Cooper at $324 was a notable success in the country,” said Shaker Ibne Amin, Industry Analyst of ICT Practice (Asia Pacific) with Frost & Sullivan.
Some expect the company to be overtaken by Samsung as the number one smartphone maker by the end of the year.
Nomura Equity research expects Nokia’s share in the smartphone sector to drop from 25.5 per cent in the first quarter to 13.1 per cent in the fourth quarter. A key factor is Samsung’s wider variety of products that it offers on multiple platforms, including Windows Phone 7 and the Android operating system.
“We’re able to provide a wide range of Android based devices and Android which is the fastest growing platform, and we’ve launched six new models this year as well as one tablet, the second reason is we’re very committed to providing a full ecosystem. We are also able to provide consumers with different needs and price points,” said Irene Ng, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Samsung.
In addition to Samsung, other rivals eating away at Nokia’s market share include Apple and HTC. Nokia is also set to face more competition in the low end space, as more local brands enter the market.
“Nokia has been losing market share especially in South East Asia and other emerging markets in the region including India. The device manufacturer is facing steep competition from iPhone and Android devices in the high-end devices market, while in the low-end, Asian rivals such as China’s ZTE and India’s Micromax as well as other local brands such as Thailand’s i-mobile and Bangladesh’s Symphony are eating more into its market share,” said Mr Amin.