Nokia’s brand tagline is perfectly summarized in the announcements made this morning at Nokia World in Barcelona.
– launch of Nokia Messaging. The offering will launch in Q1 2009 mainly in developing countries and on S60 solutions. However, support for S40 is expected in second half of 2009. The challenge here will be to offer a really seamless integration/synchronization with existing brands and solutions (Yahoo! Mail and Messenger, Windows Live, Hotmail, Gmail, Google Talk, AOL Mail and thousands of ISPs).
– Mail on OVI. The interesting point is that the beta version will roll out in 12 languages (with many more to comes) including Hindi, Bengali, Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia. It is often forgotten how fragmented and diverse the Indian, Indonesian (235 million people on more than 17,000 islands) or Malaysian markets are. To adress emerging countries, the offering has to be driven by local content and offerings, in local language and on the mobile device (due to limited PC penetration). The simple fact that the service is available on all currently shipping Nokia Series 40 devices is another clear sign that Nokia is targeting masses. Nokia does neither restrict the solution to its high-end S60 solutions not does it want to address the niches that currently use mobile consumer e-mail. The web access version will launch in February 2009 and will be a key component for driving traffic into the OVI Web site. Consumers need to have strong benefits to regularly visit OVI. If the service is really simple to use, open, and as reliable as the Nokia brand, expect the company to really start promoting OVI.
– sharing your "social location" or "sensing your ‘So-Lo’" as stated by Nokia in its PR. Beyond the announcement of a new flagship device (the N97, first QWERTY NSerie phone with an amazing 48GB storage!), Nokia insists on the concept of ‘social location’: "the Nokia N97 makes it easy to update social networks automatically with real-time information, giving approved friends the ability to update their ‘status’ and share their ‘social location’ as well as related pictures or videos". Loopt, Wrrrl, Where, GyPSii and many other services offer these services today. Business models vary quite a lot but many start-ups should be aware there is no way for them to have a return on investment anytime soon if they rely exclusively on mobile advertising. In addition, such features should logically be increasingly offered on existing social networks. Combined with the growth of social networking and its expansion in the mobile space, LBS are set to finally (8 years after initial launches!) become a key serivce. The new version of Nokia Maps (integration with OVI, 3D enhancements, and availability to pre-plan a journey on the home PC and then to synchronize with their mobile) should definitely help. Check out the beta version here.
All those announcements are really at the heart of Nokia’s brand and a clear signal that Nokia is now competing with the likes of Google and other Internet players. I can see 2 main challenges for Nokia:
– How well and how quickly will this strategy be executed? Internet giants tend to be react very quicly and to offer compelling user-experiences. Shifting from a hardware to a software company is Nokia’s toughest cultural and organizational hurdle but the company is used to re-inventing itself.
– How will operator clients react and how will they be associated to Nokia messaging efforts? How will other handset manufacturers evolve? For the moment, they claim to support their clients and position themselves as enablers and partners but I wonder what’s really in the pipeline if Nokia proved to be more successful than expected in their services’ strategy?