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This article was published on November 18, 2009


When Nokia lost the grip of the mobile

When Nokia lost the grip of the mobile
Fawzi Rahal
Story by

Fawzi Rahal

Based in Dubai, Fawzi Rahal is the Editor of The Next Web Middle East and Regional Communications Director at G2. Follow him via Twitter. Yo Based in Dubai, Fawzi Rahal is the Editor of The Next Web Middle East and Regional Communications Director at G2. Follow him via Twitter. You can reach Fawzi at [email protected].

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!