I recently conducted an informal email survey on what people felt about Nokia. I did this to prepare for an interview I was having with a digital agency who is a Nokia vendor. I wanted to know more about how Nokia is perceived before discussing feature development for their online service, Ovi.
Problem: In North America, the Nokia brand image is confused.
Solution: Target the user who wants both business and fun in one device.
As I outlined in my last post on Nokia’s brand, I think the company needs to make some swift changes in their product and service offering, while unifying their communications from both an identity and branding perspective. There was good reason to think that their new flagship N97 smartphone combined with the Ovi application marketplace could be the “it” combination to tackle their eroding awareness in the U.S. market.
Unfortunately, early reviews are not positive as seen in this TechCrunch post. Apparently, the overall user experience lacks consistency and suffers from poor industrial design (eg., screen tilt is fixed) and materials choices (eg., the primary screen hinge). If this assessment is true and consumer’s begin to feel the same way as the reviewers, Nokia will not generate needed buzz… and that is exactly what they need right now based on the results of personal inquiries.
In my survey, I made certain to target a wide range of age groups that tended to be broken down in to three audiences- senior, mid-age and twenty-something. The following are the direct quotes from my US and European friends.
Each was asked the same question: “what are the first words that come to mind when you think of “Nokia?”
Nokia means cell phones. That’s all I know. (age 72)
The best thing from Finland. The only thing in Finland. Wonderfully cheap Nokia phones that we use in Mexico (true). (age 70)
Are they still in business? I haven’t used one of their products, or considered one of their products, for many years. As I remember them, they were cool, crisp, current, workable, effective tech tools and toys. (age 54)
Nokia…weird brand…techie, not hip, Asian, kind of generic electronic manufacturer, cheap products, not Multi media, no hook like blackberry and iPhone. (age 42)
Innovative… Product design… Dominant outside of the US… Ovi… Friendly… Tech savvy. (age 36)
Outdated phones… did not know they were still around. – Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry (age 34)
I don’t use their phones because I don’t know much about them. They seem to have a lot of “starter” phones on the market. I want the status of owning an iPhone. (age 22)
The one problem would be that it (N95) takes a week to figure all the stuff out and I am very good with gadgets. And some simple functions related to calling and emails still have me perplexed and I don’t have them working correctly. (age 39)
I have the Nokia N95 (older model) smart phone and love it. It’s like a mini computer. (age 32)
Nokia is the phone I look for when I start a new contract with a carrier. They are dependable and I need that in a phone – which is my life! (age 28)
In general, the above simply shows a lack of awareness in the North American market. In the EU, they have a stronger presence, but this may be country by country. When recently visiting Austria and talking with an 18-year old, he used a Sony-Ericsson and stated that all his friends do as well. He claimed that Sony-Ericsson has 60% of the market in Austria. Who knows if that’s true, but the perception is there and will be hard to change.
In the US market, I think Nokia has a real opportunity if they target the business-user first. Apple controls the conversation around ease-of-use and cool design for the consumer population. If you want to be perceived as hip, you own an iPhone. However, the business-user marketplace is still primarily defended by RIM and I think there is room for competition.
If Nokia can meld the slide-out keyboard and an enterprise software solution with a multimedia device (photos, movies, MMS, etc.) AND an open-source application store, they could really erode the Blackberry market share. This is why the N97 + Ovi combination could be the “it” solution.
It will only happen if Nokia values the total customer experience supply chain (described in the book “Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company“). This concept makes the interaction design of the total experience – ie,. every customer touch-point, be it physical or marketing – the overarching directive of all product development initiatives.
In the North American market, Nokia could maintain a healthy price point and revive their image as a solid technology solution if they understand that the business user wants one device for both business and personal use. This could be their sweet spot that once claimed, could change people’s opinions of the brand in both the States and Europe.