Nokia Struggles to Keep Pace with Technology

by Matt Klassen on March 11, 2010

Like Canada’s cross-country ski team, Nokia is finding itself hard pressed to keep up to the leaders of the smartphone pack. In a recent report released by Ovum, the evidence is clear that the world-leader in mobile sales is struggling with the rampant pace of technological growth in the field.

All of Nokia’s flagship hardware, the study shows, is significantly underpowered compared to its rivals, and Nokia’s mobile line-up sports only one phone with a next-gen smartphone process/chipset, the N900. All other Nokia phones, analysts point out, run older, almost archaic, technology that simply can’t handle the graphics demands, high-def video, and richer user interfaces that customers are now demanding from the latest mobile devices.

Currently, the Snapdragon chipset, used in HTC’s cutting edge phone the HD2, is the high-end market leader, with a 1Ghz process and 448MB of RAM. As Ovum analyst Tim Renowden writes, “Nokia’s current smartphones, including the flagship N97 and N97 mini, run on ARM11 below 500MHz with an anaemic 128MB of RAM, a point that most other platforms have abandoned.”

Not only do Nokia’s premier devices significantly underperform when compared to other manufacturers smartphones, the Finnish company is clearly unable to produce devices that match the screen resolution and graphics technology that most leading phone’s now have. In a list of the top 20 handsets with the highest screen resolutions, Nokia has just one, the N900, while most top manufacturers boast several phones on the list.

The issue here, the report indicates, is that Nokia continues to employ resistive screens for its touchscreen handsets, rather than the capacitive screens favoured by most consumers (click here to learn the differences); not to mention that Nokia is the only manufacturer still producing multiple smartphones in the candy bar/numeric keypad form.

Simply put, lagging behind the leaders in phones that exhibit cutting edge technology will almost certainly negatively impact Nokia’s market share, as consumers will bypass the less impressive looking (and functioning) Nokia devices in favour of other manufacturers. But there is hope in Nokia’s future, as a notable dearth of announcements from the cellphone giant may indicate a significant addition to the mobile market is being developed as we speak. Further, the expected launch of Nokia’s Symbian 3 OS later this year may mark the release of several cutting edge devices for the Finnish company.

Regardless, I do feel that Nokia’s mobile profits won’t start to suffer anytime soon. Across most the world, where 3G networks still seem like something out of a Star Trek movie, Nokia phones continue to be in high demand, as their archaic devices are still considered technologically innovative for people who were most likely communicating with smoke signals in the not-so-distant past.

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