So, are smartphones all there is to it?

There they were, gadget nerds, early adopters and US tech bloggers, eagerly awaiting yet another mobile device manufacturer announcing a cool smartphone soon to appear. Instead, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia, gave them a lecture on how to do good and do good business, at the same time.

Nokia used its CES 2010 keynote presentation to try to cool down high tech hype and warm up the interest in the large(r) business potential of providing basic mobile services to the masses of developing countries. By emphasising the truly global reach of basic mobile phones and how sms-based simple ”life tools” bring huge value to tens of millions of people around the world Nokia tried to wet the developer and investor appetite for these markets. Small revenues multipled by giant numbers would result in major businesses!

Unfortunately, the Las Vegas audience seemed incapable of following Kallasvuo into a world of opportunity. Disappointed, bloggers asked ”Was that it?” and generally dismissed the presentation as ”talk”. Not even Nokia’s ”democratization of the smartphone” and their stated 300,000 Symbian developers in China alone (!) created much of a stir. This audience simply wanted a product announcement for the US market.

Still, the strategic implications of this presentation are huge. Could it be that Nokia is foresaking the petty smartphone numbers of the high end early adopters in the select developed markets to the competitors’ fight? Has Nokia given up on its Ovi content ambitions?

Don’t think so! Nokia has never played to the extreme early adopter share of the market. The company has steadfastly built a large smartphone market share by reaching to the ”late” early adopters and parts of the mass market. What we are witnessing, Northstream believes, is a powerful continuation of both Nokia’s smartphone efforts and its total domination of the device market in developing countries. Nokia is definitely set to be THE enabler of widescale communication and information services to billions (!) of users.

Based on audience and media reactions, we can conclude that

a) there is plenty of opportunity awaiting tech developers who can widen their perspectives beyond the gadget shows and quick-buck- applications

b) competition for addressing these opportunities does not seem overwhelming, and

c) the old golden rule of knowing your audience when giving a presentation still applies…

Innovators who take Nokia’s call are not only in line for a direct Nokia investment and for a potential multi-million dollar business. If they listened carefully they have realised that there are third world solutions that can turn into first world business opportunities.

Next read

The Google phone – friend or foe?

Google has finally launched what was expected since the Android rumours started in 2005 – its first own-branded phone. This is not a surprising move – these days, there is a wide choice of device vendors designing, branding, manufacturing and shipping smartphones built-to-order. Although Google claims that it just intends to further improve mobile access [...]
Read more