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Nokia's quiet comeback

Rory Cellan-Jones | 11:44 UK time, Friday, 29 January 2010

Who is the biggest noise in the mobile world? In what looked like a moment of hubris during his iPad keynote on Wednesday, Steve Jobs claimed it was Apple.

Steve Jobs

That raised eyebrows, because Apple has a tiny share of the mobile phone market, compared with Nokia. It may have reached around 2% by now, while Nokia has for many years had between 30 and 40% of the market. Ah, but Mr Jobs was talking about more than phones, he was chucking in laptops and iPods in his campaign to convince us that Apple is now a mobile business - and the biggest in the world.

But then came the latest figures from the Finnish company. Nokia's fourth-quarter figures appear to show that the wounded mammoth of the mobile world has come charging back. Revenues were still down on the previous year - most of the mobile industry will want to forget 2009 - but both sales and profits leaped ahead compared with the previous quarter. So sales were up 22% and profits almost doubled. More significantly, its share of the entire mobile-phone market was up at 39%, just short of its target of 40%.

Ah, the sceptics argue, but Nokia is losing out on the new frontier of the mobile market, the smartphone, where Apple's iPhone is carrying all before it. Not according to these latest Nokia numbers - its share of what it calls the "converged mobile device" market has leaped to 40%, up from 35% last quarter. Here's what Nokia's earnings statement says:

"Of the total industry mobile device volumes, converged mobile device industry volumes in the fourth quarter 2009 increased to 52.4 million units, based on Nokia's estimate, compared with an estimated 47.0 million units in the third quarter 2009. Our own converged mobile device volumes, comprising our smartphones and mobile computers, were 20.8 million units in the fourth quarter 2009."

So around 21 million smartphones in a quarter - as many as Apple might hope to sell in a year. Also note that mention of "mobile computers" in this category - Nokia is trying to point out, ever so quietly, that it's already in that new category described by Steve Jobs on Wednesday.

I've not yet had a look at it, but a number of people have told me that the N900 is pretty impressive. It's sold by retailers as a smartphone - but Nokia describes it as "a powerful touch-screen computer with excellent communications capabilities." it's obviously rather a different beast from the iPad, but its existence shows that Nokia does not want to be caught out again by the arrival of an innovative device which shapes a new market, as the iPhone did.

Nokia phoneAnd we've been here before. I've visited Nokia headquarters in Helsinki a couple of times, the first in 2000 when the company seemed to have a total grip on the future of mobile communications, explaining to the world that we would soon be using our phones for all sorts of outlandish things such as sending photos to friends from the pub.

My second visit was in 2004 when the company appeared to have lost its grip. That was because it had failed to spot a key design trend - the fad for clamshell phones, which Motorola and Samsung pioneered, grabbing some of Nokia's market share. So confident had the Finns been that they were the "thought leaders" in mobile design that they had dismissed clamshells as a temporary fad. That turned out to be true - but in the period they were popular, Nokia lost out.

Nokia soon put that right, and began to build towards that 40% market share which has always been its target - quite an extraordinary ambition when you think of the size of the global mobile phone industry.

Then it was caught out again by another trend - touch-screen - pioneered by another company. So there is a pattern developing - Nokia is still the leader in technological innovation in the mobile industry, but others are showing more foresight in understanding exactly what customers will want next.

But let's get back to where we started: Steve Jobs' assertion that Apple is king of the mobile world.

He based that on its quarterly revenue of $15.68bn - which, of course, includes desktop computers as well as all those mobile laptops and iPods. Now let's look at Nokia's quarterly sales - which, to be fair, include its Nokia Siemens network business as well as mobile phones. The sum total is 11,988 billion euros - when you translate that into dollars at today's exchange rate, it turns out at $16.7bn. For now at least, Nokia still rules the mobile roost.

Oh, and by the way, thank you to those readers of this blog who suggested that Nokia deserved some attention here. You were right.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    So today's exchange rate is 717.84 Euros to the dollar!

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh, and by the way, thank you to those readers of this blog who suggested that Nokia deserved some attention here. You were right.

    So will we be seeing just as much coverage for Nokia as for Apple from now on?

    I'm not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nokia defiantly deserve some focus, talk about distorting the figures with Steve Jobs - since when have laptops been in the same realm as mobiles? Techcrunch have an article about Nokia's OVI store getting 1 million downloads per day, low compared to the App Store. People trust the Nokia brand, they're unrivalled in terms of call quality, and they're starting to innovate more with free maps, touch screen and improved operating systems. Plus they're service is excellent, especially when compared to new market entrants such as Google's Nexus One.

  • Comment number 4.

    Each of the handset providers in the smartphone market has it's strengths and weaknesses.

    Apple is strongest when it comes to music, browsing and user experience. It fails on cost.

    Nokia is strongest in terms of being a good all rounder, being cheapest, and having a huge user base on non-smart phones which, when users want to upgrade to a smartphone inclines them towards Nokia so they don't need to learn new a new texting approach or menu structure. Nokia is also more open to customising its phones for individual network operators.

    RIM/Blackberry is best at email and security which is why it has cornered the business market.

    There are allegations that each of these companies has infringed copyrights of each of the others. It may be the results of these suits that determine who leads in future.

  • Comment number 5.

    "He based that on its quarterly revenue of $15.68bn - which, of course, includes desktop computers as well as all those mobile laptops and iPods."

    Actually I'm pretty sure he didn't include desktops, or rely on the 15b figure, in order to make that statement: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobs-claim-on-apple-mobile-leadership-debatable-2010-01-28

    A classic example of Jobs reality distortion nonetheless, and highly disingenuous to overlook Nokia's unit sales which vastly outstrip Apple's.

    But it did give me pause for thought - obviously since the 'Computer' was dropped from the name of 'Apple, Inc', it's been clear that the Mac is not the primary driver at Apple. But it is interesting to note that the biggest markets for Apple are in portable personal electronics. The iMac, Mac Pro, and Apple TV are sideshows next to iPod, iPhone, and MacBooks.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks, Rory. I appreciate the article.

    Nokia are a conundrum to me - I understand their strategy of dominating the low and middle tier which is where the real growth and stability is but I do get frustrated at their product development team and some of the blunders they make.

    The N97 was never going to cut the mustard at the high end - too little RAM and too slow a processor to do what was needed. The N97 mini is a far superior phone but it's really top-middle than absolute top. The X6 was also released in a shocking state although I hear they've resolved the issues since.

    On the other hand the 5800 is a brilliant, brilliant device which Nokia have paid a lot of attention too and upated regularly and the N900 looks good although it's clearly a prototype (Nokia, to their credit, have been quite open about this).

    If Nokia want to win back the high end they need to focus on user experience as well as feature set. Despite the moanings of some of the tech community, S60v5 isn't difficult to use, it's just a bit untidy so the Symbian rebuilds need to get this bit right although, to be honest, Maemo 6 units seem to be the way forward for this sector.

  • Comment number 7.

    They haven't done a decent phone in years. It's been at least 6 years since I owned a Nokia handset.

    Appalling battery life and very buggy software seem order of the day. They always seem to rush out products, pack them with the latest features, half-finish the software and then chuck in a low capacity battery.

    I'm not surprised Windows Mobile, Android and iPhone handsets have gained a lot of ground.

  • Comment number 8.

    @Michael

    "It's been at least 6 years since I owned a Nokia handset."

    Really. How do you know "they haven't done a decent phone in years" then?

  • Comment number 9.

    n900 is an interesting beast. people who know me are suprised I don't have one - I've had the 770 and n800 tablets, a Palm T3, a few Sharp Zauruses (recently stolen - be on the lookout for a C3100 running ubuntu!) and others. Currently I use the n800 tablet a great deal, for RSS news, web, multimedia (podcasts, music, fm radio) primarily, with a 3G phone acting as internet gateway when mobile.

    I wouldn't call the n900 a tablet, it's definitely a smartphone, a tablet for me would be 4" at the very least. However, it has the performance and features of a tablet, and is really a pocket computer with phone features.

    The n900 has a very rich potential, it can already run Android stuff, and has a sophisticated community developing for it.

    Why don't I have one. For a start it's too expensive, even on ebay over £400 typically. It's also a little small. I am hoping that there will be an n910. But I might succumb to the Motorola Scholes or Milestone, or maybe even the Dell mini5.

    S60 is dying, so at the moment it's a three-horse race between Android, iPhone, and Maemo/n900. Whether Windows Mobile can fight back and get mind share will be interesting to follow.

  • Comment number 10.

    Anyone else find the Ovi suite horrendous?
    There seems be be huge room for improvement there.

  • Comment number 11.

    Am I the only one that liked clamshell style mobiles? I know in this era screens tend to dominate a phone in terms of surface area, making it harder to squeeze into a clamshell style, but I loved them because later ones had a mini screen on the outside for displaying time, caller details etc, but guarded the main screen from scratches.

    They also had the advantage of putting the microphone nearer your mouth when in a call, which was good in noisy or windy conditions.

  • Comment number 12.

    About time someone covered this. Thank you Rory. People have rightly pointed out that the coverage of Nokia's results has been unjustifiably low. And who is the biggest culprit in this? Why its our very own BBC.

    I am not saying that the BBC is biased towards Apple, although you could be forgiven for thinking that, based on muliple articles covering all aspects of the iPad launch. However, I noticed in the last 2 days that the BBC seems to be more focused on techonolgy news originating from our cousins across the pond.

    Lets see the facts. In the last 3-4 days, 3 giants annouced their Q4 2009 results. First it was Apple, which ceremoniusly got its place on the 'font page' (!) of BBC News Online. Fine, with its 50% jump in YoY profits, I can perhaps see why.

    The comes news from Nokia, with its 65% YoY jump in profits. I must say, I struggled to find this news on the BBC website. For a player so big in the mobile world, such an increase should be noticed. This especially since Nokia was being written off by everyone, and bounced back like the classic underdog. But no big headline on the BBC, not even in the Technology section! I found the story burried deep somewhere in the Business section.

    But just when one was beginning to believe that the BBC IS in fact what they call an 'Apple fanboy', I see a headline article about Microsoft's 60% jump in YoY profits.

    Now out of all 3, Nokia had the biggest jump in YoY profits, besides coming out of nowhere to post such a profit. I ask you, does it not deserve some decent coverage on the licensee-paid new media that is the BBC?

    I'd suggest that the BBC start looking at this side of the pond as well for technological news and success stories, and not just go with the hype in internet blogs about all things North American. Seeing Apple all over the Tech news maybe the BBC's idea of good Tech news, but its not the idea of all its licensees.

  • Comment number 13.

    @11 HTC have tried to resolve this with a lip at the end of their phones. It creates a distinctive look that is not to everyone's taste but it does help with call quality which is, in the end, the initial reason why these phones were developed.

    Good to see a bit of balance on the blogs for a change. Nice one!

  • Comment number 14.

    Certainly interesting the way that Apple is subtely trying to shift our perception of them (regardless of the truth).

    I do think that Nokia's strategy of going low-end up (hitting the mass market and then percolating into high end devices) will pay dividends for them. It's not like Apple have a lot of innovation in their cupboard at the moment - since the original iPhone, everything has been a small iterative update or improvement. I'm really not sold on the idea that the world needs an underpowered tablet device (with a great UI).

    Having said all that, I walked down Regent Street in London the other day and the AppleStore was full, whereas I was outnumbered 10-1 by assistants in the flagship Nokia store facing. Funny that.

  • Comment number 15.

    @ JN,

    Agreed, I loved the old flip phones.
    Maybe the layout of smart phones to come....

  • Comment number 16.

    Paul MI wouldn't call the n900 a tablet, it's definitely a smartphone, a tablet for me would be 4" at the very least. However, it has the performance and features of a tablet, and is really a pocket computer with phone features.

    I've got one, and I would call it a tablet; just a really small tablet. Notably the screen is an 800x480 one, the same resolution as the previous physically larger Nokia tablets, and about two and a half times the resolution of even the iPhone (which, for all its faults is definitely one of the smarter and most tablet like phones around).

    On a separate issue the freedom of the N900 is something that's hugely important; anyone can do anything for their N900, and make it available for everyone else's N900, without Nokia getting in the way. There is an Ovi App Store for commercial stuff (though it's early days, and it shows), but the community repositories are alive with some fantastic idea, and some inevitably bad ones too, but that's just life. Nokia's 'Push N900' (http://blogs.nokia.com/pushn900/%29 programme is showcasing some truly amazing stuff you can do with a device like this when you're not locked out of it. (Incidentally, Rory, if you're reading this, you should have a look at the Push N900 site - there might be something worth covering next week).

    Lastly (for now, anyway), the N900's hardware is just stunning - it will interface to anything. So far I've had mine SSHing into server machines, displaying videos on my TV, and streaming last.fm into my stereo using its FM transmitter. There isn't much it won't talk to.

  • Comment number 17.

    Totally correct about Nokia innovation. The seem to lack the foresight of what customers really want and their ablility to launch the right product at the right time seems incredibly woeful. I was incredibly annoyed when the N97 finally did go on sale only to find that it was an incomplete product that needed continuous firmware updates to make it useable (therefore useful) and then a couple of months down the line, they launch the N900 which is a far more superior product (which will no doubt probably still need software updating). I am extremely angry at this company because the still haven't worked out that although the technological edge is important, they still haven't focused on usability, how the customer interacts with the product, through its GUI. I 'like' my N97 (original) because it has a great form factor and it does everything I need it to. But I don't 'love' it for the reasons above.

    Now since Nokia is the world leader, they are hardly going to listen to what people really want and just release products either on a whim or when someone else does it first... I guarantee you, my next phone won't be a Nokia....

  • Comment number 18.

    @Matt_MWFC: I find it odd that you can criticise the N97 for having too slow a processor and too little RAM, then praise the N97 Mini and 5800 both of which use the same processor and have the same amount of RAM as the full N97 model.

    With regards to processing power and memory, I suppose Nokia deserve a certain amount of praise for being able to run Symbian at a reasonable speed on slower CPUs and with less RAM than most top-of-the-range WinMo and Android handsets are being announced with.
    But, at the same time, one cannot help but wonder if the performance would be even better if they were to use the like of the 1GHz Snapdragon CPU or 512MB+ of RAM.


    As for Nokia's direction, they have been notably slow in releasing touchscreen handsets but I personally doubt this was due to a lack of foresight.
    You could tell which manufacturers really were blind-sided by the original iPhone, they were the ones who were desperately rushing new touchscreen phones to market a few months later. Nokia on the other hand took their time and have been rather successful with their offerings to-date - the 5800 seems to be pretty universally admired, the N97 is a very capable handset with it's miniature brother offering nigh-on all the same features in a slightly more convenient size and the 5530 sold very well during the Christmas period, not to mention the newly-released X6 and 5230, both of which will sell well (especially the 5230, as it will allow customer to access the new, free Ovi Maps on a reasonably-priced handset).
    The handsets are all solid, reliable and sell steadily, which is far more than you can say for a lot of other touchscreen phones that are available.

    What Nokia really need to sort out though is the OS.
    Symbian S60 is, quite frankly, not suitable for touchscreen phones. They either need to phase it out and replace it with the far more glossy Maemo OS (albeit, it's a little bewildering for first-time users) or push forward to the Symbian v4 that has been heavily rumoured/seen screenshots leaked.
    Better yet, they could put their weight behind the likes of Android, and we could see the dawning of a genuinely interesting period with mobile phones but, sadly, Nokia's track record is one of 'doesn't play well with others', so I can't see that happening.


    Whatever happens though, everyone who has/had written off Nokia is a fool.
    Sure, they may not have been the quickest to release a touchscreen and yeah, prior to these latest figures their smartphone sales seemed to be declining but they're far more shrewd than people give them credit for and the announcement of free Sat Nav shows they're far more in-tune with what people want than a lot of companies - dare I say it, even more than Apple, who don't seem to take on board what people want, rather they dictate what people can have.

  • Comment number 19.

    It says much about the success of Apple's hype that you have spoken so much about the Apple products, and yet admit:

    "I've not yet had a look at it, but a number of people have told me that the N900 is pretty impressive."

    But then, it only came out last October/November!

  • Comment number 20.

    @dempsi1997

    The difference is the N97 was marketed as a high end smartphone the 5800 was not. In the case of the N97, as I pointed out, the expectation level of this that it was top of the middle tier, not absolute high end.

  • Comment number 21.

    @6

    As an owner of an N97 I have to disagree with your assertion that it's processor and RAM are inadequate, especially after the latest firmware update (although even before that, quite frankly). At no time have I ever shaken my device in frustration and said, "Goshdarn this is too slow!" Quite the opposite. I've been very impressed with what they've gotten out of the N97 with it's admittedly, on paper, limited specs insofar as RAM and CPU goes.

    Just about everything I do on the phone, it does either instantly or within a second or two, with the exception of installing apps... and most of those only take twenty seconds or less to install after download anyway.

    It plays music more than capably; I've watched movies on long journeys (journeys which, alternately, it could've guided); I usually have four to five apps open at any one time (iPhone doesn't multitask at all); and so on.

    If the iPhone is considered "top" level... well, the N97 must be above-top. Some users have complained on various issues related to OTA updates, but these are really the fault of the cellular networks, not Nokia. Some have also complained about screen scratching - but Nokia provide a perfectly good screen protector that those users really shouldn't have removed in the first place. Some have also complained about the touchscreen - but I can only assume that those people have absolutely massive hands, as I have rather big fingertips and don't run into any problems except when browsing the web... and finding links that are so close together that I defy any touchscreen interface to ensure I hit the right area of the screen to select them. Even so, I can double-tap and zoom in if I need to.

    I'm by no means a huge fan of everything Nokia has ever done, on, say, the level of many Apple users... but I've seen friends' iPhones and am fairly smugly confident that my N97 is a superior device in practically every way, except in diversity of applications available. And since those apps are third-party anyway... that has nothing to do with Apple or Nokia.

  • Comment number 22.

    @18

    Not quite sure why you don't think S60 is suitable for touchscreens. Seems to work perfectly well on my N97...

    Granted, developers seem a little thin on the ground, but that's not a GUI issue as you seem to imply.

  • Comment number 23.

    the come back is quiet by all the means...it's not even covered by the media...i think that with the new firmwares they are releasing Nokia high-end phones became very competitive..and they don't have so many restrictions like other companies

  • Comment number 24.

    @Mark_MWFC: well, lets ignore the 5800 for a second.
    You'll concede that the N97 and N97 Mini are almost identical on paper and perform identically, yet you state the Mini is a superior phone. How so?
    Better value for money, certainly but how can it be superior in any way when it runs the same OS using the same CPU and RAM?


    @Auqakuh: the flaws are self-evident. They may not be an issue for yourself or you may choose to ignore them but they do exist.
    For example, in some menus such as the main menu, you only have to tap once to open something, on other menus like the messaging menu, you have to tap once to select and a second time to open. In some menus if you drag your finger down, the menu scrolls up, in others you drag it down and it scrolls down.
    The whole UI is a disorganised mess and needs starting afresh.

  • Comment number 25.

    All very well but completely misses the point. Apple made $1.6 billion in operating profit off of the iPhone in Q309. Nokia, meanwhile, made $1.1 billion. So Apple with 2.5% market share made more profit that Nokia with 35%. Who would you rather be Apple or Nokia?
    As a result of this Apple is sat on a cash mountain of $34 BILLION... which it can use to develop new stuff like the iPad.
    --
    Cheers
    Mark

  • Comment number 26.

    @dempsi

    1) Smaller and more attractive format
    2) Better keyboard layout
    3) Had firmware that actually worked at launch

  • Comment number 27.

    @markg

    Unless you're a stockholder who cares?

  • Comment number 28.

    as my old man says" a phones a phone. as long as you can make a call then thats all you need". how times have changed.

    apple have only realeased one version compared to nokia 25 million diffrent versions.

    I used to work for O2 and i found it really sad and boring how people can debate the advanatges and disadvantages of certian mobile phones. To many people are spending to much time on their phones and not spending enough quality time with the loved ones roun them.

    get a life please

  • Comment number 29.

    The only reason that this seems a "quiet" comeback is because the BBC is so hung up on Apple that they haven't noticed.

    I had this weekends "click" in the background yesterday and all I heard was constant mentions of the iPad (without mention of other similar devices on their way), to services for your iPhone and when it came to talking about a site for music, they did not say MP3 player, or personal hi-fi or something, they just said your iPod.

    I am in media and advertising, and there is a constant joke in the industry about all the free advertising the BBC give to Apple. There used to be a rule at the BBC that you never mentioned a product launch unless you gave EQUAL weight to comparative products. And if in doubt, you did not report on the launch at all. And on air you avoided using product names and stuck to generics - the famous sticky back plastic.

    There were two really good reasons for this:

    1. The BBC has a lot of influence and that should not be abused
    2. The service is paid for by a direct tax - we do NOT pay you to promote someone else's product.

    It is time that the BBC editorial looked at their own rules, and started giving some serious balance. Because currently you are being seen as Apple's mouth piece.

  • Comment number 30.

    N76 was the best phone i ever owned (and still do) and it was a flip from Nokia... i now have a curve courtesy of work.. its ok i suppose but, because of the security time out, my incar enterprise beam me up scotty voice dial pretty much becomes useless as the BB always gives me options of what ive just said, unfortunatley becuase the phone is locked you cant see them!!! the N76 voice dial was awesome and i firmly believe a near on 98% sucess rate.. with all cars practically coming with blue tooth as standard i think this will need looking at

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    You see this article is insult to injury. I mean its called "Nokia's quiet comeback" when it should really be on the front page of the technology/business page.

    The BBC report on Apple products so in such a reckless and biased manner I want my license fee back? For years all your radio DJ's ever called an MP3 player was an iPod. That's like referring to any car as a "Volkswagen Golf."

    You report on every new product like its literally a gift from the heavens when for years and years Apples products like the iPod, iPhone and now iPad have been missing out features in their products that other makers have been doing for YEARS. iPods have only just gained microphones and radio recievers for 2009. iPhones don't support Flash technology in web browsing? The iPad? The 4:3 screen? No Flash support? It has no built in support for physically transfering data onto it without paying for the SD card reader? Nothing! HOW CAN YOU PUT DATA ON TO IT?

    All Apple are doing is dumbing down real tools used on home computers and limiting them by there invasive licensing. Its like creating musical artists on minature keyboards. Eventually the artists will realise they can never make a symphony on a toy.

    Learn the phrase "function creep" its what apple is all about. Never innovating, just creeping along products in a new wrapper.

    THE BBC ARE BIASED, LOOK FOR YOURSELF, SEARCH FOR SAMSUNG/PALM. ANY NEWS ON THERE iPHONE RIVAL? A VIDEO REVIEW? NOTHING? NOTHING AT ALL?

  • Comment number 33.

    Two things always stood out for apple

    1. When it came to professional media work such as sound or video or graphics, Macs were generally more powerful than windows/intel PCs, with good monitors and so on.

    2. For the home, they were far more stylish looking, though very over priced.

    However, that is all changed. When Apple bought Emagic/Logic (professional music composition and recording software) they dropped support for Windows. THOUSANDS of people moved over to Steinberg or Mark of the Unicorn. Mac then moved over to Intel chips, levelling the playing field, and generic monitors. The very things that made them uniquely useful faded away and now for the same price as a Mac you can buy a more powerful alternative that you can run Windows or Linux or whatever you want on.

    Now they are a company completely reliant on hype, producing products in the messy old horrible way of "if the market does not exist, create it."

    They have gone the way of the rest of the technology sector - solving problems that don't exist.

    I work in the media, mostly composing music for advertising now. I use internet connectivity and computers for composition and production as part of my day to day business. It is all very cutting edge stuff.

    But what do all my clients do when they want to discuss an idea?

    They phone me. In the same way as they have done for the 30 plus years I have been working. They use their desk phone with its nice comfortable handset. They sit in their office chair so they can concentrate. They and I take rough notes of the conversation with paper and pencil.

    If they do phone me from their over priced iphone in the car, it is to tell me that they will phone me later when they are back at their desk where it is quieter. And these are mostly people in their 20s, the mobile phone generation if you like.

    They will buy the over priced new gadgets that the BBC technology deportment have sold out to utterly and completely. And they will use them to their full potential, ummm, sometimes, perhaps.

    But when they want the fully immersive, high value, tactile, holistic, 3d, super highspeed, ultra experiencorsized (yes, I did read that word somewhere the other day), touch sensitive, multi-sense, personal communication, fit for the 21st century ....

    They will knock on my door. Or give me a ring for the "lite" version.

    And we know this because the amount of business miles travelled by car, train and plane has increased, year on year without fail - enormously.

    Even the IT industry know this. There is an advert for computer communications where a man and his team in a meeting have forgotten the proposal, and the pigeons fly off to get his computer.

    The mad conceit of the advert is that the man has physically gone to the meeting in the first place. Here is a computer company trying to sell a product that allows you to communicate back to your office that you have had to leave because computer communications is a really bad way of presenting a proposal.

    Apple have become the embodiment of this hype.

    So when the BBC only talk about Job's company and the super hi-tech useless gadgets, they ignore how people actually work, how they NEED to work and just become part of the HUGE advertising machine selling us what we don't need half the time and can't afford.

    And we pay the BBC through our taxes for doing this.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nokia and Apple have a way to go. Neither offer:

    + dual 3G Sim cards - one of business one for pleasure
    + dual memory cards (downloads costs a fortune so I want one card for GPS the other for picture storage)
    + music store that does not lock me into one or other system

    I want a gadget with phone, music player, camera 8+MP, gps, PDA and internet (3G and Wifi - Skype)that links seamlessly to my PC. It needs to green - charge via mini USB no multiple chargers, light under 100gms and last without charge for 3+ days (internal solar panel would be good). The SW needs plenty of Apps easy and fast to download this latter topic is where Apple leads.

    Nokia's Symbian system shows its age. If Nokia could get seamless switching/multitasking to zero cost Wifi/VOIP on free public or corporate networks removing the corporate desk phone/infrastructure this would be a real step forward.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm looking forward to getting an N900... I just wish O2 wouldn't assume the right to dictate to their customers what phones they're allowed. They may be losing me very soon to Vodafone who I'm sure will happily look after me and my money.

    I just hope that Nokia manage to get developers developing for the N900 and Maemo platform in the same way that Apple have for the iPhone. It's frustrating to see a good-but-certainly-not-the-best device like the iPhone seeing such a disproportionate amount of success purely because of good PR and marketing.

    Nokia's high-end phones are so much better than the iPhone... maybe not perfect, but then neither are Apple's products, they just brush the problems under the carpet in the hope that it won't harm their precious PR. iPhone batteries overheating, anyone? Frequent crashes and a non-removable battery?

    Rory - thanks for thanking those of us who requested Nokia coverage. Now get your hands on an N900 asap and post a review on here (or get two free, send me one and we'll both review it... how's that?)

  • Comment number 36.

    I got my first clam-shell phone just as they were being phased out, probably when Nokia jumped on the fast-departing bandwagon. It's a pity they've gone - I did (eventually) realise the beauty of them.

    Just an aside - can the dot.life link on the News Blogs box of links be replaced with dot.Maggie and dot.Rory please? It'd make jumping from Mark Easton to here a lot easier.

  • Comment number 37.

    its a shame that Apple gets all the limelight when better products have to struggle to get attention. Those underdogs would undoubtedly make better press - we all love the underdog after all!

    As for the N900, its when I saw the video of 2 of them plugged into a pair of large plasma TVs with 2 guys playing quake on it that I thought things are changing in the mobile computing space, before I thought mobile smartphones were just an overpriced gimmick with features no-one really used, but with the N900 i think I saw the beginning of the future of computing - a fully-fledged computer, just in a tiny form factor. Add a bluetooth keyboard, plug it into your HDMI-equipped TV and you have a full-on PC.

    Nokia could be one to watch as it transitions to being the next Microsoft :)

    Yes, and I like clamshells too.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nokia are regularly caught off guard. Clamshells and the iPhone are just 2 examples, I remember it taking ages before they made phones with colour screens and there is also email with Blackberry. Usually when they do finally catch up their product offering is pretty good.

    I look forward to the time I can ditch my iPhone and go back to them but alas, now is still not that time.

  • Comment number 39.

    Fact: 5800 is the best selling smart phone.

    I do not own a Nokia phone and I wouldn`t buy one, but that doesn't change the fact that Nokia are the mobile giants.

    I live in the developing world and all I see is Nokia phones. I'm yet to see a single Apple product around here. I know at least 10 people who own 5800.

    You shouldn't underestimate Samsung neither. Samsung probably sells more smart phones than Apple as well. Just because they aren't very popular in the UK, it doesn't mean they don't sell.

    Apple's business model works only in the welthy West. iTunes??? What's that??

  • Comment number 40.

    Have just got an N900 myself and have spent the last two weeks congratulating myself on not buying an iPhone!

    As someone who uses the mobile internet perhaps more than I actually use mobile phone functions, the N900 is perfect... and fast. The hardware spec is impressive; the screen is so detailed that it can display the width of a whole standard format webpage and you can still read the text.
    Oh, and it runs Firefox....

    It's clear from the forums that the real differentiator with the iPhone is that the Maemo OS is much more Apps developer friendly than the Apple walled garden, although this does raise future hacking concerns if Maemo devices get more popular.

    The N900 does still have a few rough edges at the moment; a work in progress. But inherent in the device is the ability to upgrade new firmware and apps updates from 'repositories'.

    Nokia clearly need to persevere with Maemo to stay in the top end smartphone market, as Symbian just does not cut it any more. If the price were to drop a bit more people may try the N900, and the word may get around just how good it is.

  • Comment number 41.

    Rory, it's not a 'comeback'; they never went away, except in the minds of fanboys and "tech journalists" like you who should always have known better. The irony is that the iPhone has come on in leaps and bounds while Nokia have been, to a large extent, standing still. If tech journalism followed reality, you would have been lukewarm about the original iPhone, but just starting to get excited about it now.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am wondering whilst sat on the phone to Nokia Support trying to get my faulty N900 replcaed whether the Nokia profits have anything to do with the number of people ringing 0845 numbers and being kept on hold for long periods of time.

  • Comment number 43.

    The iPhone is loved and hated by many, but one thing is for certain - it certainly kicked all the other companies into re-thinking their products. How many 'iPhone killer' have we seen since it arrived in 2007? Touch screens are now commonplace in many manufacturers lineup.

  • Comment number 44.

    ! agree with _Ewan_ -I have just gotten a N900 after having used the N810 for a long time. The N900 is a very significant improvement even leaving aside the 2G/3G connectivity e.g. faster, good multitasking, GPS works much better, more memory. I like the fact it is essentially a Linux-based and largely opne device and I think the freedom to experiment with different applications even change the OS marks it out as a device for the cookier tech users!

  • Comment number 45.

    Colin,

    I would refer you to the web site "Say NO to 0870" - enter any 0870, 0845 etc. number in and it will tell you the "real" geographic number which it forwards to. So if you just call that instead, it will cost the same as a normal call :)

    [Apologies if that's slightly off topic, but it became relevant with the discussion of Nokia's revenue sources.]

  • Comment number 46.

    the reason why bbc news is a news organisation is because they report news. It's not news when a tired old corporation rolls out another fragmenting phone that no-one gives a hoot about and then reports a number that's bigger than another number. No-one cares about the clamphone 9700i cheap plastic zimmerbyan OS raddled happy clapper fjiord hopper with the thy buttons on it. It's not news when they fire out another soulless feature point on their increasingly irrelevant itinerary of also-rans.

    The iPad is news because it is news. The nokia announcement was not a reaction to that news, it was a standard accounting practice. Trailing "Quietly announced" as if it was in reaction to Jobs' assertion is disingenuous, it's just not so Roaring Kettle Phones, that's a false opposition.

  • Comment number 47.

    @disk grinder
    You can't compare the launch of the iPad with Nokia's announcement of its Q4 results. What you can compare however is Apple's announcement of its Q4 results with Nokia's announcement of its Q4 results. The former gets a FRONT PAGE headline on the BBC, and the latter doesn't even make it to the Technology section. It's buried somewhere deep in the Business section needing a magnifying glass to find it.

    Whats more worrying is that Apple reported a 50% jump in profits, whereas Nokia, being an underdog today, reported a 65% jump in profits.

    I leave it to you to decide now whether the BBC's reporting is imbalanced.

  • Comment number 48.

    markg wrote:

    "All very well but completely misses the point. Apple made $1.6 billion in operating profit off of the iPhone in Q309. Nokia, meanwhile, made $1.1 billion. So Apple with 2.5% market share made more profit that Nokia with 35%."

    So are you saying that Apple products are grossly overpriced when compared to Nokia?

    And yes, it is nice to see an article on the BBC technology page not worshipping at the altar of Apple

  • Comment number 49.


    Nokia definitely making a comeback see the announcement about Symbian going open source :

    Symbian phone operating system goes open source

    Nokia bought the Symbian software in 2008
    The group behind the world's most popular smartphone operating system - Symbian - is giving away "billions of dollars" worth of code for free.
    The Symbian Foundation's announced that it would make its code open source in 2008 and has now completed the move.
    It means that any organisation or individual can now use and modify the platform's underlying source code "for any purpose".
    Symbian has shipped in more than 330m mobile phones, the foundation says.
    It believes the move will attract new developers to work on the system and help speed up the pace of improvements.
    "This is the largest open source migration effort ever," Lee Williams of the Symbian Foundation told BBC News.
    "It will increase rate of evolution and increase the rate of innovation of the platform."
    Ian Fogg, principal analyst at Forrester research, said the move was about Symbian "transitioning from one business model to another" as well as trying to gain "momentum and mindshare" for software that had been overshadowed by the release of Apple's iPhone and Google Android operating system.
    Evolutionary barrier
    Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia bought the software in 2008 and helped establish the non-profit Symbian Foundation to oversee its development and transition to open source.
    The foundation includes Nokia, AT&T, LG, Motorola, NTT Docomo, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone.

    It's useful for them to say Symbian is now open - Google has done very well out of that
    Ian Fogg

    Nokia in full buy-out of Symbian
    Symbian to develop mobile apps
    The group has now released what it calls the Symbian platform as open source code. This platform unites different elements of the Symbian operating system as well as components - in particular, user interfaces - developed by individual members.
    Until now, Symbian's source code was only open to members of the organisation.
    It can be downloaded from the foundation's website from 1400 GMT.
    Mr Williams said that one of the motivations for the move was to speed up the rate at which the 10-year-old platform evolved.
    "When we chatted to companies who develop third party applications, we found people would spend up to nine months just trying to navigate the intellectual property," he said.
    "That was really hindering the rate of progress."
    Opening up the platform would also improve security, he added.
    'Mind share'
    Symbian development is currently dominated by Nokia, but the foundation hoped to reduce the firm's input to "no more than 50%" by the middle of 2011, said Mr Williams.
    "We will see a dramatic shift in terms of who is contributing to the platform."
    However, said Mr Williams, the foundation would monitor phones using the platform to ensure that they met with minimum standards.
    Despite being the world's most popular smart phone operating system, Symbian has been losing the publicity battle, with Google's Android operating system and Apple's iPhone dominating recent headlines.
    "Symbian desperately needs to regain mindshare at the moment," said Mr Fogg.
    "It's useful for them to say Symbian is now open - Google has done very well out of that."
    He also said that the software "may not be as open and free as an outsider might think".
    "Almost all of the open source operating systems on mobile phones - Nokia's Maemo, Google's Android - typically have proprietary software in them."
    For example, Android incorporates Google's e-mail system Gmail.
    But Mr Williams denied the move to open source was a marketing move.
    "The ideas we are executing ideas came 12-18 months before Android and before the launch of the original iPhone," Mr Williams told BBC News.

  • Comment number 50.

    So nearly one month on and how many more N900 articles has there been? None.
    How many more iPhone articles? Well I've lost count.

    So much for even news coverage from the BBC.

    There are a total of 3 articles (inculding this one) regarding the N900... disappointing!

 

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