The Battle Between Web And Mobile Heats Up; Silicon Valley Says Nokia Has A Software Problem


imageDespite the fact that the Nokia (NYSE: NOK) sells a phone every 18 seconds, the Finnish phone manufacturer doesn’t get much respect in Silicon Valley, Forbes reports today. The publication observed these feelings at a July conference organized by TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, who said: “I believe that Nokia and Symbian are irrelevant companies at this point.” In defense, David Rivas, a Nokia vp in charge of its smart phone software efforts, said: “You’re ignoring Japan, you’re ignoring Korea. The statement that somehow the Web has not been mobile until the iPhone is absurd and back to the point about parochialism.” To add injury to insult, an audience heckler yelled at Rivas: “Wake up!”

So, what do you think? To discount Nokia seems like a mistake, but at the same time, the question is an interesting one: Will the mobile Web be owned by Internet giants like Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), or even Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), or will incumbent mobile companies, such as Nokia or even Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC), do the better job? Who’s correct? The iPhone and BlackBerry touting VCs, startup execs and bloggers, or the likes of Nokia?

It’s undeniable that Nokia has been a phone manufacturer for decades, not a software company. But Nokia’s a year into a massive transformation. It wants to own the mobile experience on the phone, not just the phone. It has made investments in everything from music to file-sharing to advertising. It’s also purchased Symbian, the mobile operating system, which it intends to give away and make open source. Meanwhile, it’s hard to not look at RIM’s (NSDQ: RIMM) Blackberry, Apple’s iPhone, or even Google’s Android as worthy efforts, given those companies’ track-records in Internet and software applications vs. Nokia’s background in manufacturing. In an attempt to clear up the matter, Forbes reported a number of races in which the iPhone’s software appears to win. Research firm Perceptive Sciences asked 10 people to send e-mails from an iPhone and an N95. On average, the users took two and a half minutes on the iPhone and twice as long on the N95. Only half of the people could even manage to send an e-mail on the N95. In a separate race, more than 80 percent of iPhone owners use its Web browser, compared with 60 percent of Nokia N95 users, according to M:Metrics, which also reported that the iPhone is used more often for social networking, maps, applications and listening to music, whereas the N95 only beat out the iPhone when it came to watching video.

Clearly, there isn’t a winner yet. Improvements can be made on all sides. An email shouldn’t take two and a half minutes to send, and from most accounts, the iPhone still has to work on keeping a connection while during a call. Who are you placing your bet on?


Michel Bonet

The USA is and always has been behind on the latest and best phones. The iPhone is their only saving grace..if you can call it that. Only 2 megapixels of camera with everyone else doing 5+ , no flash, cannot send an MMS, cannot forward a text message, dropped calls, no video..what planet are these Apple guys living on? These are basic features of a mobile handset.

The writer has no business or knowlege writing this article.

USA wake up!

It is amazing how USA citizens tend to believe they are the center of the universe… Nokia and Symbian irrelevant companies… I hope that guy never gets out of USA! Nokia is the best phone manufacturer by far in the world, and Symbian the most sold operating system for smart phones! Clearly in USA they don't do as well as elsewhere, but definitely not "irrelevant"… Apple new iPhone is a good challenger (old iPhone was a nice looking crappy featured phone), but still is just one model, against the whole portfolio of Nokia. Still they need more experience to seriously challenging a company as Nokia in all the business. I have tried both phone, and I use Nokia N95-8GB instead, and new N96 looks amazing! I don't care about touch screen, if I have a phone as powerful as N96.

Douglas Brown

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Old School

"Research firm Perceptive Sciences asked 10 people to send e-mails from an iPhone and an N95."

This seems like an apples-to-orange comparison. One has a QWERT keyboard, the other doesn't. A more applicable Nokia device to use in comparison would be the E60/61/71.

And that's it's a little too much American hubris to suggest the Mobile Internet world started with the iPhone.

Robert Andrews

"I believe that Nokia and Symbian are irrelevant companies at this point." Whaa?!

I think the US, which has been pretty late to the mobile content market relatively, looks at the business through rather iPhone-shaped spectacles.

iPhone is still an upstart and by no means a mass-market device, Android basically doesn't exist yet.

Nokia's email setup is far from perfect, it's browsing experience is not whizz-bang but acceptable. At least the N95 can capture video.

I'm with you – to write Nokia off is insane, and they'll innovate this year and next.

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