Blog Post

What Will Nokia Accomplish with its 2010 Operational Strategy?

Nokia has taken quite a beating of late — although the reality is that market share continues to erode — so this press release out of Espoo is rather timely. This quote from Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia, best summarizes the plan for next year:

“In 2010, we will drive user experience improvements, and the progress we make will take the Symbian user interface to a new level. As an operating system, Symbian has reach and flexibility like no other platform, and we have measures in place to push smartphones down to new price points globally, while growing margins. I see great opportunity for Nokia to capture new growth in our industry, by creating what we expect to be the world’s biggest platform for services on the mobile.”

While much of the statement could be construed as repetitive rhetoric, Nokia has set some targets to make this plan a reality.

  • Improve the user experience — this will go a long way towards helping Nokia gain acceptance where it’s not the dominant device. I realize how popular Nokia phones are outside of the U.S., but here folks are enamored by a seamless, simple and initiative interface.
  • Re-engineer the Symbian user interface — Nokia plans to deliver one major product milestone by the middle of 2010, followed by another before the end of 2010. That sounds like two hefty Symbian releases to tweak the interface.
  • Deliver the first Maemo 6-powered mobile computer, with an iconic user experience, in the second half of 2010 — If you thought the N900 is drool-worthy, I expect what follows to build upon the N900’s positives and address many of the negatives. The question may be one of app availability.
  • Increase the proportion of touch and/or QWERTY smartphones — While I agree with this conceptually, Nokia may be better off by focusing efforts on fewer, but better devices, not more models. Choice is good, but if efforts are watered down across dozens of phones, I’d prefer fewer choices that offer a superior experience.
  • Increase mobile device market share slightly in 2010, compared to 2009 — Definitely a step in the right direction.
  • Have 300 million active users for services by the end of 2011 — I’m not clear on the services strategy considering Comes With Music isn’t yet setting the world on fire and N-Gage is a goner. Ovi hasn’t impressed me yet.

Ultimately, these are all good strategies so I’m not questioning the approach. The question in my mind is: what’s the expectation? Does Nokia expect to win back smartphone market share lost to Apple (s aapl), Research in Motion (s rimm) and others or is this just going to plug the hole in the dyke, as it were? And more importantly, where will those competitors be with their devices and service when Nokia accomplishes their plans? I’m not trying to paint a “doom and gloom” picture of Nokia because I don’t think they’re going anywhere. They’ll continue to exist as a major brand long after I’m gone. I’m simply trying to wrap my head around what’s going to be different in this approach from any others in the past few years.

Matt Miller shared his opinions on Nokia’s future — the day before the release, which is most impressive — and offers plenty of solid analysis on a bright future for Nokia. And the boys at All About Symbian take a deeper dive with more details on the platforms and devices, which is well worth the read. What do you think? Are the planets aligning for Nokia to stem the market share losses in 2010?