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9/7/2011
08:54 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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What Nokia Must Do To Survive

Now that the phone giant is putting all its eggs in the Windows Phone basket, it needs new strategies.

In the cutthroat mobile device space, Nokia made a bold move dropping both Symbian and MeeGo, two platforms it had significant or total control over, and betting its future on Windows Phone. It won't be good enough for Nokia to come out with mind-blowing hardware now. Nokia will need to do much more.

Mike Dano at Fierce Wireless has listed five things Nokia needs to do to reverse its current sales slide. As Dano notes, Nokia is a minor player in the U.S. market, with its last major device in this country the odd-looking 3650, and that was released in 2002! Since then, Nokia sales have been unimpressive, even though the hardware often wowed tech reviewers.

Globally, Nokia is in a better position than it is in the United States. The phone maker has good relations with foreign carriers, especially those in Europe. The model in Europe is different though. If you want a specific phone, you just buy an unlocked device at full price and slide in a SIM card to use it on your carrier of choice.

Not only is that rare in the United States, it is often impossible. Most unlocked phones only work on AT&T, the network that most closely mirrors European network technology. Verizon and Sprint are CDMA based, which is totally different, and T-Mobile has different frequencies, limiting most global GSM phones to 2G data connectivity.

That means in the United States Nokia needs carrier partnerships, and it needs to get onboard with CDMA. You can't be a major player in the United States without getting on Verizon's network. It is the largest carrier in the land and having incompatible technology isn't smart for any phone maker. Yes, Apple was successful for three years without Verizon, but come on. No Nokia device now or, in the near future, can be compared to an iPhone.

Marketing has to be massive as well. I am wondering how much of Microsoft's Windows Phone marketing budget will be allocated for promoting the Microsoft/Nokia partnership? The more the better. Buzzwords that every phone consumer knows include Droid, iPhone, and Android. Nokia needs to get its devices out there, front and center, with device-based--not general Nokia--marketing.

Dano also recommended Nokia float some cheap prepaid models. That would put its devices in the hands of people who don't want--or can't afford--multi-year contracts. It also gets the platform on smaller carriers like MetroPCS, Virgin Mobile, and Cricket. This is an area Android is starting to infiltrate, while iOS is unlikely to be there, at least not with a current-generation device.

What else do you think Nokia needs to do to turn the tide?

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