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  Can Nokia be beat?
 Nokia has made its position as the world's leading mobile-phone brand by the simple understanding that when basic technology questions are solved, communication leaves the aspect of voice quality for the aspect of design relations. Design will always be as much a language as any spoken word with a conversation individually as well as socially.

Now, this is of course not the full truth behind the success and just moves the subject towards the eternal discussion on design, but to understand Nokian success you cannot close your eyes to this.

Please take note of how Siemens have started to work with a complete design focus the last year which will make it an interesting company to study. However what could happen is of course that the premises change (e-mail in your mobile is not one, but ponder that you connect a pair of projecting goggles/glasses with existing 3G-technology. That kind of shift could drastically change the mobile scene of today). 

Rumblefisher - June 28, 2003
 I think Nokia realises it is in the business of 'bringing people together through communication' rather than providing technology. The problem for them is that it worked so well that others such as Siemens are replicating the brand idea through strong product design and people focused advertising to reach a style-savvy market. 
Rob Findlay - June 30, 2003
 Sure product design matters. But, I'm still looking for the corporation behind Nokia. The innovative people and the unique corporate identity doesn´t show sufficiently. And still, a rate of 80% of all Nokia phoes needing repairs, within the first year, simply does not help their cirsp and proffessional brand image. 
Henrik Cordsen - June 30, 2003
 Sure - Motorola & Samsung will overtake Nokia. And Beta will be making a comback to unseat VHS and DVD. Please... 
Anonymous - June 30, 2003
 The name of the game in mobile phone business is usability, or better how familiar is it to use the next phone, and this fact gives Nokia an almost unbeatable advantage, cause if you have more than half of all cellular users trained on your way of managing a phone the choice for the next model is very much more in Nokia's reach, than that of e.g. Motorola. It is also marvellous how Nokia constantly pushes the boundaries of new designs without losing the family look and feel. Samsung has made a great effort and came closer, but the struggle against customers comfort to select something already used to is quite hard and will leave Nokia still in a favourite position for years. Branding in this case is much about feeling comfortable and familiar with the next product. 
Reinhard Haberfellner, hf consulting - June 30, 2003
 Network operators are spending an awful lot of money on positioning themselves as lifestyle brands as a means of promoting their data services to the consumer. They are also branding the user interface on some phones, and apparently not on others. Look to Vodafone for example. Perhaps it's not about losing market share to other manufacturers because of their industrial design and functionality, perhaps it's actually a question of operator branded phones? Peer pressure prescribes a Nokia amongst generation x at the moment, perhaps it will prescribe Vodafone soon. 
Julian, Marketeer - June 30, 2003
 Nokia was the first handset manufacturer to understand how important brand was going to be in determining success or failure in the mobile handset market. It set out a long-term vision for the Nokia brand as long ago as 1992/3 and it has developed other elements of its business in concert with that vision; it has excellent product design, the most efficient supply chain management, the best distribution model etc. All other handset vendors were incredibly slow to wake-up to the need to build everything from the brand (after-all the technology involved is replicable). However now Nokia's brand power has reached the point where service providers feel threatened by it as they too try and carve out distinctive identities. My view is that Nokia will struggle to grow its market position substantially from here, but I see few credible challengers for its top spot in the short to medium term. 
Peter Richardson, SoundView Technology Group - June 30, 2003
 It is the industry and the wider economy, not the firm. Nokia are all powerful in Europe and hold the key to the next wave of mobile technology adoption. 3G is going nowhere until Nokia have a handset available to European end users- Q3 2004 I believe. Nokia realised long ago that usability first and design/image of the device second are key and they remain streets ahead of Sony/Ericsson and Samsung, Motorola aren't even in the game. 
Anonymous - June 30, 2003
 Beyond style, Nokia led the pack with a user interface that was intuitive and indicated someone had put a lot of thought into the product. Engaging users on this tactile level built a kind of code loyalty -- something Motorola never got, leaving them and Siemens to go the flash route of design gimmickry.

It remains for Nokia to engage us intellectually again. Not easy to do when gimmicks are so much easier and impressive if short-lived. 

Bill Bishop, Director of Brand Management, O&M - June 30, 2003
 Nokia caught the mobile wave in the mid-80's with the mobile phone with absolutely the easiest usability of any of its rivals. Their current way out no.1 position in the market place is due to the fact they have continued to be ontop of the technology AND enhanced usability, experience and design.

It is not going to be possible to hold onto their market share as the likes of Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Siemens play catch-up. The success of Nokia will be based upon how long it takes for their rivals to get close to them. 

Ian Johannessen, Director, AME Design - June 30, 2003
 Nokia's dominance has been displaced by Qualcomm. Nokia and Samsung are on equal ground now -- Nokia's to lose, Samsung's to gain. Qualcomm owns 100% of the next generation market. Nokia only supplies the market.

Yes Indeedo! 

James Leugner, Production Scheduler / Investor - June 30, 2003
 Nokia had the vision and foresight to define the brand, develop products with a clear product and design strategy and had the guts to communicate it in a single-minded fashion. However, when that strategy was developed, it was developed in the 'pure mobile' context. Today, the products are converging, services are becoming as important as the device and the area in which the brands operate in are changing.

Can Nokia stay on top? Sure. Does it have to re-define itself? Of course. Also, it is not easy to be a runaway market leader which Nokia are. One should not look at the erosion of the brand as a weakness but rather the strength of its competitors. It is much easier to chip away at a large market share than to take share away from a market where the top competitors are equally split. There is a bit of alternativism that will undoubtedly creep in.

Have said that, the competition are getting better and more importantly smarter at understanding branding and the brand/product/design/user interface integration which is key in this category. 

DD, Ex-Head of Marketing Comms of a large Finnish telecommunications company & current head of marketing for a large korean consumer electronic company (Asia) - June 30, 2003
 It's something different, I've noticed. It's not whether Nokia loses its 1st place or not. It's how much the author cares for this to happen.

I mean -- how can you make a supposition (and state it so strongly) that Nokia, at 200% the shares of Moto -- is loosing its leadership? Come on -- this is trendsetting??

In fact, I think Nokia has lost the appeal and relevance it used to have, mainly due to general INNOV-DESIGN-ABILITY clutter. But it still has one important driver -- PRESENCE. 

Jacek Sufi Studzinski, Brand Planner - July 1, 2003
 Nokia has it down with user interface and handset design. This is what is keeping them ahead of the pack with market share. I reckon the only competition on the horizon for Nokia is the new breed of Sony Ericsson phones. These have the handset design to compete as well as the brand equity of Sony. There are an army of loyal Sony consumers out there who would comfortably make the switch, I feel. 
Anonymous, Art Director, Broad Street - July 1, 2003
 I don't think really Nokia is loosing its strength since it's the market leader doubling the shares of its 2 nearest rivals. As working in this sector generally consumers don't ask for different qualities of the handsets they only ask for Nokia. 
Ebru Bilir, Sales supervisor, Aria - July 2, 2003
 How long will it be before Nokia finds itself in direct competition with Microsoft? Now that Seattle has previewed operating systems for watches, tablet pcs etc, and has showed its determination to break into established markets (Xbox), will it wait much longer before it weighs into wireless communications? I don't think Nokia's position is threatened as much by current competitors, as by the potential for convergng technologies to reframe its competitive set. 
Anonymous - July 2, 2003
 Nokia, specifically in Europe, is a very strong brand name and already associated with mobile phones. The strong expansion of mobile phone plans and pre-paid phones (more recently) has depleted as expected and the benefits of 3G are not as convincing to the public yet. The Mobile phones however carry a touch of fashion, therefore the market is not expected to just saturate. Nokia with its new models, is reaping the fruits in the market successfully and already clear ahead of its rivals and Sony Ericson joint venture. I don’t see Nokia losing market, and with the clear advantage of perfectly user friendly designs and a common operating system, Nokia users are not willing to change and the company holds a monopoly in the market specifically with the age group >30. Samsung phones recently may pose an avoidable threat to Nokia, but it is evident that Motorola and many other companies are way behind in terms of user friendliness and other technical aspects of mobile technology.

Motorola success in the US market, is heavily reliant on the premature characteristic of the American Cellular Market and the aging infra-structure. GSM technology, however is catching up in the USA, and a proper implementation of the phone sales structure similar to Europe where the user chooses the phone rather than the service provider, will certainly have a huge impact on Nokia sales within the USA market.

In my personal opinion, Nokia offers superior products at similar price levels, and their common operating system on the phone convinces you instantly that you want nothing but just another Nokia. The recent models launched (The radio built in, Game downloadable and Camera inclusive ones) are quite stylish in the same sense and the combination of high and friendly technology with fashion at affordable prices offer superior value.

Nokia will certainly return to its profitability levels, as soon as the consumers start spending money. 

Husnu Murat Erenli, Research Assistant, North Carolina State University - July 2, 2003
 The battle between the handset manufacturers will be overshadowed by the battle with the network operators. How soon will it be before the the likes of Vodaphone brand their own phones or will Nokia beat them to the punch and become a service provider. Its all about who owns customer relationships. There is no reason why both won't get into each others businesses. And while taking that line, wait for the day Disney, MTV and other content owners start providing their own handsets and also become service providers. 
WW, former manager at a telco - July 2, 2003
 The sticky things about Nokia are the user-friendly, all familiar menu. Also there is the after purchase community effect that comes as logos and ringtones. However, I see dangers in the entry-level handsets. In my market Motorola and Samsung are totally absent with less than 5% market share in total. The runner-up is Siemens. An average Nokia entry level phone possesses the marvelous consumer insights, cool desing and everything that builds a "Nokia". However, for the same price, an entry level Siemens also possesses cool design, nice menu and plus incredible technology such as Java. Should the consumers decide to go beyond ringones, Siemens will be a good candidate for top spot. 
Seza Aydin, Business Development, Turkcell - July 3, 2003
 Most of the comments focus on the user-friendly feature and stylish design of Nokia phone to support the success of Nokia and its unbeatable position as a market leader. But these are all tangible features which can be imitated or improvised by competitors. Intangible factors should be strongly emphasized to create consumer's strong desire to associate with the brand rather than solely depending on product features. Intangible factors reduce the impact on the market share when a competitor manages to "catch up" and allow Nokia to reinvent its product as it always does to defend market share. Indirect competitor ie Service provider and IT firm will be a much tougher "fight" if they enter this market which is possible in this technology converging era. 
Ivy, Marketing Assistant - July 3, 2003
 It will be interesting to see how Nokia and other handset manufacturers cope with the introduction of Symbian and Windows phones where the UI is so much more flexible.

My kids have swapped the outer shell of their Nokia for a more funky design and with a new colour interface (which could easily be branded by the operator or a pop group or a football team). The manufacturer's name and interface might actually disappear -- leaving.... well.... not much except the battery length, sound quality, weight and klick-iness of the buttons.

One reason I always choose Nokia is that our house and office seems to be equiped with lots of re-chargers.

Now that is a good USP. 

Paul Youtlen, Biz Dev, Clear - July 4, 2003
 Handset manufacturers have done their best to load their phones with functions and top ‘em off with good design in order to distinguish themselves from each other on the marketplace. But that process can only go so far...

Operators and service providers will soon be scrambling over each other to give us the barrier-breaking services we want and need. When, for example, a regional Vodafone affiliate secures a deal with major banks and content providers in a specific geographic region, they’ll have taken a giant step towards achieving immense customer satisfaction and market domination. And the images that have been associated with handset design will be replaced by, and embedded in, these operator-provided services.

In such a scenario, the survival of essentially identical handset manufacturers will be based upon which strategic partnerships they succeed in building with which operator...  

Kurt B. Geiger, Copywriter, Freelance, - July 6, 2003
 Maybe we -- as consumers -- just don't want a phone camera or still-risky wireless connectivity. If, as you say 'Phone cameras and color screens aren't pushing consumer buttons and wireless services aren't upgrading fast enough to meet the technology' then is the question about brand relevant?

Indeed, is it possible that brand (i.e. Nokia) in itself is not enough to prompt uptake of technologies and services that really aren't quite up to scratch yet? Phone cameras are great -- if eveyone you know has one to instantly receive and view the images. As for wireless, when no-one can hijack my connection and ride my access ports for free, then maybe the attendant comms gadgetry will engage the tech-junkies out there. 

Foobar, Consultant - July 7, 2003
 Even at the basic level of handsets, Nokia is starting to lose customers. Nokia introduced several handsets in last 2 years, without clearly positioning them. Competition has finally woken up and Sony-Ericsson & Siemens have introduced some good products off late. Nokia customers are tired of Nokia and switching. A huge lot have switched to Sony-Ericsson after they had bought 5-6 nokias in the past.... Now if that is the beginning of a trend, Nokia beware. 
RD, Marketing Consultant & a Former Telco Manager - July 7, 2003
 No brand -- no one -- is unbeatable. If you believe no one can defeat you, it is the begining of the end. Look at France in World Cup 2002. Nokia's competitive edge is consumer understanding + creativity + marketing spendings. 
Laurent Berriat, Brand consultant, DDH Communications France - July 8, 2003
 Leading brand, now there's a 70's soap opera triage resuscitation. The mere suggestion of verb tense points to one clear argument: all things are temporary. Great brands lead, are formidably challenged, reinvent and return to lead. Nokia, should it be able to shore the breach, will likely return -- if ever displaced. Fleeting successes are based in pop-culture, spokespersons, economic booms of spend-thriftiness and technological advances. Long-term solid growth and dominance are determined by myriad factors of markets, marketing, product development, partnerships and alliances and, not-least-of-all, vision. The corporate leviathan that figures most prominently in our future of communication likely made a concerted effort to 'let Nokia have its day' while they plotted for dominance based on the 'next great thing.' Turns out that wasn't the phone-camera or the color-screen or the economic pressure of a world-wide recession.

The brand Nokia has built has little to do with its success, in my opinion. The decision to be the commodities manufacturer and aggressively develop partnerships with the carriers whereby building their product into the pricing plans, was the masterstroke. It seems unlikely that another widget-maker won't be able to create that same planned attack with another intelligent approach.

Wanna free the world, Nokia? Buy a broadband company, give away the service and go back to charging for the cellphone, a phone that operates cross-platform. After all, regardless of which 'collect call number' you dial, someone has to own the phone... 

Jayson L. Truttmann - July 8, 2003
 Every user of Nokia will vouch for its superior understanding of latent consumer needs and conver that into strong design outputs most of the time. The role of the brand in these drivers is very high and one can say that Nokia still has a lead over others in this respect. However, its equity has become weaker given the strong performance of Samsung and Motorola. Surely a couple of great products which captures Nokia's essence can stabilise its equity. A corporate ID makeover could also be considered to signal this 'come back'. 
Unni Krishnan, Business Principal, BF India - July 12, 2003
 Nokia is synonymous with cell phones. But sure this is changing. Today it has a strong market presence, strong brand and above all a product that is surely very easy & intuitive to use. Question is can Nokia maintain all these when all others are trying to catch up on the same? Look at Siemens, Sony-Ercisson and Samsung.

Let's see if Nokia can be as ubiquitous and popular as IBM and Toyota!  

Jijesh Devan, Student/Researcher - July 15, 2003
 I used to be Nokia heavy user couple of years ago. But not anymore. I switched to Motorola for the only reason -- Nokia stopped being simple. Nokia is going after the customers who make purchase decisions due to multifuctions or stylish looks -- but at the same time it ignores the needs of those who want "just a good cell phone". I realize that the segment of consumers who want a simple Nokia is not that large but ignoring the needs of the consumers would inevitably end in sales decline. 
Anastasia Belyaeva, Assistant to Media Director, Saatchi&Saatchi, Russia - July 17, 2003
 You should be right Anastasia but sadly I don't think you are in this case. Some years ago Philips launced a range of simple-to-use consumer electronics with fewer features -- nobody bought them and the idea was dropped -- lots of people (amazingly) actually want lots of features -- even if they never use them.

Anyone have any thoughts on the Xelibri phones? ( -- they have much fewer features wrapped in very funky cases... but will Anastasia buy one? 

Paul Youlten, Troublemaker, - July 17, 2003
 Although it seems that Nokia's troubles may stem from the economy, they could be heading for some further woes in the near future.

Nokia's product matrix is too complicated. There is very little between various product, some which seem to cross over. Nokia needs to simplify this matrix and concentrate on more smartphones, because integration of PDA's is the best thing to happen to the mobile phone--not integrated MP3, as Nokia seems to think (looking at their website). 

James, Roscoe, jRawkwell - July 17, 2003
 I don't know about foriegn markets but in India, Nokia has a strong brand presence, a good association with mobile phones and it is known for having user friendly features, and I am sure the company is very optimistic in exploring the same. 
David John, Project Co-ordinator, Sandoz - July 18, 2003
 The reason I feel cheated by Nokia is based to some extent, on the recent Nokia ad campaign -- outdoor posters images were demonstrating various items: a paper clip, a match -- and the headline was "simpler than..." , -- I cannot say for sure -- but as far as I recall it was either 5100 or 6200 Nokia models advertised.

As for Xelibri -- the phones are advertised in glossy magazines. They are sold in fashion boutique stores in Moscow. Xelibri is not my style, because sometimes a ringing endlessly mobile phone makes me so mad that I dream about dropping it into the Moscow river! Quite predictable answer, Paul, isn't it? 

Anastasia Belyaeva, S&S Moscow, Russia - July 18, 2003
 Well, didn't someone once say: 'What goes up, must come down'. I think they have shown how to brand a path through the crowds of hungry callers, but now others may have an opportunity to make another mobile phone brand.

Finally, am I the only one who thinks the model name of phones are beginning to track out? '7110, 3750, T300'. Are we all this technically inclined? In a car we have understood the indications, but on phones ??? 

Martin Sorensen, Brand Manager - July 21, 2003
 Nokia is being challenged by companies like Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony-Ericsson etc. The thing is that despite all the new innovations that other phones bring it is hard to catch up with the sheer pace of innovation, designs and styles that Nokia is famous for. With the double digit growth of this market from America to Pakistan to the UAE, it is inevitable that a few shifts in share will occur, but Nokia inevitably will retain its place at the top by sheer momentum!!! I forgot to mention user-friendliness!!! 
Zeeshan Khan, Media Planner, Prestige Communications - July 22, 2003
 Everyone here is mentioning user-friendliness, intuitive UI, loyalty… All of this reminds me of the first desktop I used: Apple Macintosh, a computer with the first graphical user interface…remember DOS ?? You no longer had to type in commands. Back in 1990, when I was still clicking one mouse button using a computer called Apple IIsi, I would have blurted out the same comments.

Back to the future. Nokia unlike Apple is not showing any signs of falling asleep at the wheel. Nokia seems to have learned from history and are keeping their pricing politics sound while their trendsetting product design gurus & engineers are on top of it with each new model launch. Add magnificent marketing power, brand management and communications magic…and it looks like Sony-Ericsson (brand power synergies) and Samsung (Korean wildcard, Matrix sponsoring digitall life as we know it flip artists) are the only candidates for second. Both already have even better UI in their latest models. Siemens and Motorola are the underdogs, but they’re starting to learn quickly through trial and error.

I predict that Nokia will stay at the top, they will emerge to be the IBM-type-of-behemoth of the mobile phone market. Nokia’s “real” threat lurks in the East: Japanese, Korean (Sagem) and Chinese (Soutec) generic brands (not familiar to most Europeans and Americans) may begin to seriously contend with the well established brand names. A daring claim? Perhaps, but back in 1990 I would have never dreamed of finding myself at work in front of a German-Japanese JV built laptop in Warsaw, connected to a Sony Ericsson T68i via Bluetooth, and cursing Microsoft Windows every day.  

Lukas Jaglowski, HYPERmedia - July 22, 2003
 Nokia is a very creative designer. How could it be beat if the creator is so creative -- unless the competitors could find Nokia threats and weaknesses. In market, it can be seen that most of the young generation, even the medium-age people, like to use Nokia as it is user-friendly, with a lot of features that the young generation likes. But in the future I could not think of Nokia's performance as IT is unpredictable. If we could predict 100% of what will happen, then there will be no challenges in the future. Can Nokia be beat? This is a good question that could not be answered precisely. It only depends on what humans think of and what they expect. 
Morticia Liew, Student - July 23, 2003
 Nokia's solid and reliable brand has true authenticity and heritage. If you look at the alternatives within a typical service provider's shop, I believe the alternatives which try to gain share of their authentic and reliable territory are few and far between.

I also feel that Nokia need to provide more customised options for their consumer in terms of overall packaging otherwise they could be likened to being stale and boring - the alternatives win here. Like in Hong Kong where customisation is easy and the kits are readilly available there is limited availability here.

Very rarely do you see the same BMW with the same bodykit and accesories which I think is very appealing. Porsche also do the same. The software is fine but I feel consumers don't want to accept what everyone else has. 

Andrew Potter, Group Account Design Director, 141 Worldwide - July 25, 2003
 Sorry I thought this was a forum to debate "brand" issues not economic or technical ones.

In the mobile phone business Nokia has the strongest global brand and ranks No.6 in global brands by value (source: 2003 Interbrand ranking). I don't see anything from Samsung and Motorola that is likely to knock them off that perch just yet.

Great Brands focus on the core and deliver on the brand promise consistently. Nokia means great well designed phones for most consumers. What does Samsung & Motorola conjure up for consumers (globally)?


David Renshaw Vaassen, brand asset management guru, - July 28, 2003
 To my opinion, Nokia is still hard to defeat. It is one of the reasons that it has topped international market for its product’s prominent feature. For the Asian region, I reckon Nokia has the highest Brand Awareness, not to mention its achievement of Indonesian Best Brand 2003 for mobile phone category.

Nokia’s ad and promotion were always done to support and strengthen the brand image. Thus, other competitors like Motorola, Ericsson, Samsung, Siemens, etc. should improve their performance in all manners, including their BTL & ATL communication, line of distribution, and make an effort to assign profound brand perception to consumers.  

Felix Ferdinand, MagicDesign (Jakarta, Indonesia) - July 28, 2003
 I don't think that the signals in the last two years mean that Nokia lost the leading role in the mobile market. Probably there is another truth behind it: Nokia, as a lot of other brands, is still trying to digest the fall down of mobile forecast. The problem is always the same: people talk enough using the mobile and all the sector needs is something that has real value for customers (business and consumer) and for corporates and that speeds up market growth. If you see the numbers, you will see that just Samsung grew in last two years. Motorola, Ericsson, SonyEricsson, Panasonic and others are still floating in the market. I think that without an answer to the main question (what will make the value's market speed up?), leaders like Nokia will have some problems to increase the leadership. 
Giuseppe Rollino, Marketing Manager, Cesaweb s.p.a. - July 29, 2003
 In any markets there are market leaders and followers, and in most cases market leaders lose market share to followers, for many reasons such as pricing, availability, "user-friendliness", relevance to the target audience etc. It's inevitable. Can Nokia be beaten? On one hand, it is up to Nokia's marketing department, and its agencies. So far the brand has established itself well in many markets, and consumers have identified with what the brand has to offer. But that does not mean they cannot lose the brand battle. To remain at the front of the pack, one must constantly be innovative, the minute you lose that edge competitors will definitely overtake.

On the other hand it also depends on the competitors. How far are they willing to stretch? Are they willing to take Nokia head-on? How? What will the outcome be? For the same reason that Nokia has managed to gain market share and be ranked number 6 in the Global Brand Scoreboard, certainly someone else can do the same? 

Vuyisile Mzozoyana, Senior Project Manager, Octagon South Africa - July 29, 2003
 Stiff competition will bring us better service and more innovations more quickly. This can only be good. 
James Darling - July 30, 2003
 "Branding agencies" launch a brand and build awareness. Comsumers who buy and continue to buy/use the products decide if a brand fails or suceeds. If no one bought a McDonalds hamburger would it have a strong brand? Nokia continues to maintain loyalty through technology, most importantly navigation software on its phones. Ask any nokia supporter. This is the reason they don't change over to something that looks sexier...they just aren't user friendly... 
Richard Bolton, Managing Director, Ltd - August 1, 2003
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