Nokia's Mobile Phone Strategy

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Alec Saunders has written a great article on Nokia’s mobile phone product strategy. While the article just touches on Industrial Design, he gives good examples on how product strategies, combined with a good understanding of the consumer, is used to drive innovative designs for Nokia.
Nokia’s Juha Kokonnen, product director for the “Explore devices” explains:

Nokia products are divided into five categories for five separate markets:
The Explore line is the technical leadership product line. These are the N-series phones which push the boundaries of what a phone is.
The Live and Classic lines are the broad appeal products. These can be inspirational in nature, supporting one particular feature very well, or style oriented.
The Achieve line is focused on the enterprise. These are the E-series phones and smart phones.
The Entry line is focused on low end phones and emerging markets.

What I found particularly interesting was how Nokia follows a strategy similar to that of Sony. Called the “Sunrise/Sunset” strategy, what happens here is new, perhaps premium, features are introduced in top end models. If proved successful and well received by the market, the technology is, what I like to call, “trickled” down to the more mainstream models. This often happens, when the technology becomes more mature and hence cheaper. Also by this time, the market would have caught up and competition would have increased, resulting in Nokia making such features standard in their products with wider appeal. This is also quite similar to what is happening in the Digital Camera or any technology product market.
Saunders does the work for us by listing examples of when these new technologies and features were introduced by Nokia, and when they became standard:

From a time line perspective, the features introduced have consistently debuted in one or two devices one year, and then migrated to the entire product line within 12 months. And what we can see is that the Nokia product line is being optimized around music, the internet, photos and video, and now navigation.
2005
– camera phones with 2 megapixels introduced.
2006
– 2 megapixels standard across N series product line
– 3.2 megapixel cameras, navigation, WiFi and music introduced
2007
– 3.2 megapixels, music, navigation and WiFi standard across N Series product line
– 5 megapixel cameras introduced, with 8M solid state storage
2008
– 3.2 megapixels, navigation and music migrate to 6200 series broad appeal phones

Saunders concludes with a fantastic observation of Nokia’s phone strategy in comparison to Blackberry or iPhone. He rightly concludes that Nokia’s competitors create phones designed for content consumption, while Nokia’s aim is to create phones that are for content consumption AND creation. Great observation! This has been floating in the back of my mind for awhile now and he has summed it up beautifully.
I encourage you to read his entire article fully, as he goes into great depth explaining how Nokia’s strategy has been realised in the current range of phones. A great read and justification of why Nokia is still the best mobile phone company today.

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