Nokia Still Chasing The Initial iPhone?

It’s been a bad week for Palm with disappointing sales numbers being reported and their stock dropping 20%.  Recent smartphone sales numbers for Q4 also indicated bad news for Palm with no real lift from their new Web OS devices.

While the news was bad for Palm, the market share numbers were a harsh reminder of why Microsoft has completely destroyed their existing smartphone OS.

The news were also an indicator that Nokia has not stopped their decline in share to the iPhone or Google Android.

Nokia’s decline is really in two stages.

1. Nokia’s decline in worldwide smartphone market share is pretty dramatic. In 2007, with the iPhone on the market only for 6 months, Nokia had 49.4% share. 2008 and the iPhone 3G brought that number down to 43.7%, and 2009 saw Nokia’s share down to 38.9%.   While not as severe a decline in terms of relative percentage as Windows Mobile, a 10% decline in an expanding market is hardly the position of the market leader.

2. The market share decline of their primary operating system, Symbian,  is also significant. From a high in 2007 of 63.5%, Symbian now after 2 years of the iPhone and a full year of Android phones is down to 46.9% in 2009.

What is Nokia hoping will reduce this slide and start to regain market share? The newest versions of Symbian along with their Maemo OS. For some reason, Nokia seems to be following a very complex multi OS strategy for their smartphones. It’s hard to see how the two OS approach will be an advantage rather than just confusing customers and application developers.

Engadget presented some recent videos of the new Symbian 4 OS (not shipping yet)

Engadget used the word “underwhelmed” to describe these videos and I’d have to completely agree. Sure Symbian 4 demonstrates some multi-touch basics and if this was 2007 that might be somewhat impressive. Overall though, the OS GUI looks okay, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before in really early builds of Android. Basically there’s nothing demonstrated here to make me think  that I will be buying a Nokia smartphone instead of  the 2010 iPhone or a 3.0 Android OS Phone from HTC.

I’m not sure Windows Phone Series 7 will be a success, Microsoft may be in a Palm like hole by the time the first devices are shipping en masse from multiple vendors. At least though, Microsoft will go down swinging for the fences with a OS that looks different. Nokia’s Symbian like Samsung Bada OS appears derivative and ordinary, and in 2010 that’s not going to cut it.

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