When Nokia lost the grip of the mobile

When Nokia lost the grip of the mobile

E71_dumpIn my other ongoing life as a digital marketing director, I used to handle all of the marketing initiatives for Nokia in the Middle East & Africa, and although we parted ways as client and agency earlier on this year, I stuck to my E71 and N95 for a while. I am on a 5-year non-disclosure agreement, so make sure to stop me when I’ve said too much!

I wasn’t that faithful throughout. Although I’ve spent a monogamous relationship since I ever used a mobile phone back in ’94, I did, and for a short period of time, switch to an iPhone only to discover that the whole inexistent multi-tasking environment isn’t my cup of tea. So I went back to my E71 with my tail between my legs knowing for a fact that 40% of the mobile market share is their playground and being quite aware (and involved in marketing) of a lot of the services they were about to offer.

That was until I spent 2 months roaming outside of my hometown Dubai and got back with a phone bill that gave my CFO a mild (yet quite audible) heart-attack. An 18,000 AED ($4900) phone bill per month on data is a joke!

So I had to make the inevitable migration to BlackBerry and bought a Bold 9000. I hate the way the phone looks like. I hate the fact that there are limited apps. I hate how you sometimes wander amongst the apps trying to figure out why is that red light still flashing. I hate walking around aimlessly staring at the phone hoping it gives me something more than what it is. And I certainly hate being yet another BlackBerry user when I used to preach about how Nokia is the cream of the crop.

Why is it that the majority of the business community have switched to a BlackBerry and swear by it? The phone bill! I recall the first time I was on the phone with my service provider Etisalat (insert negative adjective here) and they were trying to explain to me that no matter what type of data connection I create on my BlackBerry, wherever I am in the world, I pay nothing above my subscription fee of AED 295 ($80) – tethering included! That was heaven! Guilt-free surfing and email from anywhere!

The Symbian platform is quite stable, customizable and is open-source! They’re also introducing Maemo and by far have the most user-friendly devices ever created.. I might have stats! Why are we cheering for Google Android when Nokia created such a platform 5 years ago? What is Nokia waiting for to realize that a good product and a great user experience is worthless if it doesn’t make any financial sense? How difficult is it to sign a deal with the operators and setup a real unlimited plan?

I find it hard to believe that a North-American manufacturer and service provider like RIM has managed to penetrate the Middle East while Nokia, a European leader with an overall market share of around 40% has still not managed to create a single proper data package with any operator aside from the usual ‘Buy a Nokia and get 2 months of data free’.. followed by an asterisk of course.

Time for the Finnish giant to shape up and get some deals signed!

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