Nokia Faces Difficult Smartphone Resurrection

by Matt Klassen on April 21, 2015

There are few companies who have been able to resurrect themselves out of the garbage pile of technological irrelevance, fewer so who have been able to do it without significant reinvention and refocus, but with the announcement of the pending acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent last week it seems that once glorious Finnish tech giant Nokia is looking to buck the odds.

Accompanying the recent acquisition announcement I briefly speculated about Nokia’s possible return to the mobile market, rumours that were given legs this week with a report from tech website Re/Code, one that cited sources as saying that Nokia is eyeing a return to the mobile market in 2016.

The clandestine mobile project is said to be driven by Nokia Technologies, one of the few remnants that still remain after the fire sale to Microsoft last year, a division that is best known for its role as a veritable patent troll, licensing the company’s massive patent portfolio to other businesses. It will be this arm of Nokia, the report suggests, that will be in charge not only of the company’s renewed mobile efforts, but several other cutting edge projects, including ambitious virtual reality experiments.

But futuristic technology aside, the greatest hurdle Nokia will have to overcome to resurrect itself in the mobile market will not be the products it offers, but its long association with failure; the lingering image of a company blind to market trends and far too stubborn to change.

As part of the deal that saw Microsoft acquire Nokia’s mobile division, the Redmond Company has exclusive rights to use the ‘Nokia’ name and associated product names in the mobile market until the end of 2015, explaining the proposed 2016 release timeline. Further, the report speculates that Nokia would unveil the device, and then much like Blackberry’s deal with Foxconn, offload the design and name to another company that would handle the production and distribution.

But the company’s proposed resurrection won’t be easy (as if resurrections ever are) as the company’s repeated mobile flops now mean that the ‘Nokia’ name is virtually synonymous with failure and all once loyal Nokia mobile customers have fled to rival platforms like Android or Apple.

That said, with the marketing ban extending through this year, Nokia will certainly have ample time to design something suitably cutting edge, making sure it doesn’t make the mistakes that brought the once great titan to its knees over the last few years. Of course Nokia’s mistakes in the mobile market were caused largely by an inability to recognize their continued failures and the stubbornness that hampered change; it’ll be interesting to see if the company has undergone the culture change necessary to reboot and succeed, saying nothing of the actual products it will need to effectively compete.

While any and all specs regarding the future Nokia mobile project remain a closely guarded secret, with Nokia’s recently released N1 tablet sporting Android it’s certainly possible the forthcoming smartphone would be an Android device as well, particularly given Nokia’s repeated failures at building and deploying its own mobile platforms.

In the end, while I’m impressed that Nokia has risen from the ashes like a veritable phoenix with its proposed acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the company’s mobile resurrection will present its own myriad of difficult challenges, as the company will have to battle not only market incumbents Apple and Samsung, but it will have to contend with its own image as a failed and irrelevant mobile brand as well…and the latter may prove to be the harder battle to win.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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