On the attack

Nokia is finally on the attack; hungry to stay ahead of the competition by taking its first steps to diversify

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On the attack Nokia 3G Booklet will run the new Windows 7 operating system.
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By  Vineetha Menon Published  September 6, 2009

Blame it on Obama but we all expect change now. In fact, we demand it. And Nokia is finally listening.

Signs of a transformation have been evident for months now but at the Nokia World conference last week, head honcho Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo finally made an official and very public acknowledgement that the company was shifting its focus beyond just technological innovation to a more consumer-driven approach.

Nothing reflects that more than Nokia’s entry into the profitable netbook market with its ‘Booklet 3G’. I wasn’t overly impressed when I heard the announcement last month but after having the chance to play with it, I now believe Nokia has a decent first candidate on its hands – good form factor, fast and responsive system, easy sync with Nokia handsets, and an admirable battery life of 12 hours on a single charge. While I’m not keen to shell out 575 Euros (more than AED 3,000) to own one, the point is that Nokia is finally on the attack; hungry to stay ahead of the competition by taking that first step to diversify.

Later this year, it will also shake loose and release its first non-Symbian smartphone – the N900 – that runs on the latest Linux Maemo software and boasts the ability to deliver PC-like performance.

Another noticeable change is Nokia’s eagerness to reach out. The company now recognises the value of key partnerships, reflected in its recent alliance with both Microsoft and Facebook, with more on the cards in the coming months; though only time will tell if it holds a winning hand.

“We recognised the change was coming some time ago and we began to take action to transform Nokia. With the emergence of new competitors, the near complete spread of mobile phones to even the most remote areas of the globe, and now the global recession…When you look at the global breadth and scope of what we are trying to accomplish it becomes clear that we are piece by piece building a new Nokia,” Kallasvuo told the thousands of delegates that converged in Stuttgart for Nokia World 2009.

Going forward, the company will bring out products that fall in three categories – phones, smartphones and mobile computers – while fervently pushing service offerings that it considers ‘critical’ to Nokia’s future.

It’s doing well so far – more than 1 million people registered for Ovi Mail in a little over six months, while over two hundred tracks are downloaded on average every few weeks through the Comes With Music service.

In all, Nokia has more than 55 million active services users today and has set a target of 300 million within the next three years.

Nokia has the chance to get it right – after all, how many other mobile phone makers have a reach of over 1.1 billion users in the world today? It may be ahead of the game now, but competitors are fast closing the gap, forcing Nokia to push harder, faster and stronger.

“Our ambition is nothing less than to be the biggest services platform for services for mobile,” Kallasvuo added in his keynote address. Finally, the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer gets it - that a phone is just a phone…until it becomes yours.

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