Nokia Ends the Year on Disappointing Note: Delays E7 Flagship Phone

by Matt Klassen on December 15, 2010

The Nokia E7

For those waiting to get their hands on Nokia’s newest flagship smartphone, the E7, before Christmas, I’m sorry to say that it won’t arrive in time…wait a minute, what am I saying? The truth is…there is no one waiting for this phone.

Nokia announced earlier this week that in order to “ensure the best possible user experience on the E7 [it has] decided to begin shipping in early 2011.”

But with Nokia quickly slipping into the nebulous region of smartphone irrelevance and with the news that the E7 will lamentably sport Symbian, the unwanted brother of Nokia’s new mobile operating system MeeGo, how can delaying the release of this phone till after the holidays—the one time of year where Nokia is guaranteed to dupe someone into buying their phone—help anyone?

The fact is, however, that this announcement comes as an unfortunate yet appropriate cap on what has been an undeniably abysmal year for the Finnish mobile giant, just another blemish on the company’s floundering smartphone brand.

Like Research in Motion (RIM), I will be honest and say that it’s easy to pick on Nokia; a company that sports the highest mobile sales numbers worldwide yet seems to be forever doomed to be a smartphone outsider. Again, like RIM, part of an elite group of mobile giants that know how to sell phones, but just don’t know how to build them.

Earlier this year I covered the unveiling of Nokia’s previous Symbian flagship, the N8, noting that even before its release it was destined to be a disappointing smartphone offering. For taking such a stance, however, I received copious amounts of hate mail, with counter-arguments stating that the N8 would surely dominate the market and that I was crazy for predicting its imminent failure.

So following a year where the N8 did indeed fail to impress, sporting a mobile OS that not even Nokia likes, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m sceptical about the future of the E7.

To be fair, Nokia is marketing the E7 as a business phone, meaning that direct comparisons to Apple’s iPhone or Google’s cadre of powerful Android phones may be a little unfair, an apt comparison perhaps being RIM’s Blackberry, itself subject to decreasing popularity in the enterprise market. Further, Nokia continues to back Symbian as its business-oriented operating system, hoping that its no-frills interface will attract the corporate crowd.

But this continued distinction between corporate and consumer devices just adds credence to the argument that Nokia has no idea how to infiltrate the current mobile market. If one thing has been clear over this past year it’s that mobile users want one phone that can do it all, business and pleasure, meaning that while Nokia may attract some business users, they won’t stick around very long.

In order to succeed Nokia needs to see the future of the mobile market and respond to it accordingly, meaning that they need to get rid of Symbian and focus on making MeeGo a viable corporate and consumer oriented operating system; otherwise I fear that 2011 will bring much the same disappointment that 2010 has brought.

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