Mobile Devices in Market Segmentation
Well today, now yesterday (May 24th) was my birthday and I got some time to reflect on a few thoughts and only time today to post on one of them. This week I began to consider just how much of this topic goes completely unnoticed by most average mobile computer/mobile smartphone consumers and how much marketshare Nokia may have lost due to this. Gone are the days of the late 90’s and early 2000’s where Nokia could afford a quick product announcement and produce a device targeted at a specific target market – without proper focus or advancement in technology or design. Case in point was the Nokia N70 & N73 Music Edition releases, the N71, or the 6680/81, and finally the E50 in May ’06, when the E60 existed in October ’05. Each of the models I’ve specified are rehashes of the same product with just a slight focus in market segment (region) when it was never initially intended for OR like the E50 not needed when it offered nothing new from the previous product 6/7mths prior to its release. Nokia previous to the past 1-2yrs has been doing a phenomonal job with increasing smartphone awareness and marketshare – not only for itself but to the competition. Nokia intelligently new that back in 2001 having a smartphone available was not enough for the average consumer to upgrade to it from a feature phone. They had to identify or create (through research) a “market segment”. Considering the mindshare towards cellphones outside of the European market it was understandable that Nokia would ignore or find the American market (North & South American continents; not just the USA) as a minimal investment as a market segment. To date Nokia’s only focus to the North/South American market segment, beyond 1/2 model generations, has been the flip-phone S60 models. The Nokia 6260 (2004/2nd Qtr: GSM 850 / 1800 / 1900 – US version) started it all.(N71 skipped us, and thankfully so as it would not have been received well at all) N75 had SOOO much potential (2006, September: UMTS 850 / 1900)! This was the PERFECT S60 phone for the USA market when it was announced. This had many in the industry hailing it – however, Nokia’s potential and time was wasted when courting to AT&T who has consistently favored Windows Mobile devices over S60. This device was clearly focused; offering Music Player & EQ, 3G speeds that we could use, and a decent quick-cam. AT&T screwed over the release of this device complaining so much of network inconsistencies and issues it literally took 9 months to release it. N76 Although not targeted to the North/South American market … if released 6mths earlier this would’ve taken the lucrative Motorola RAZR2 market! Offering 3.5mm headset jack, same slim design, S60 prowess to boot, and a shinny shell coating it would’ve appealed to North American women intensely in red. Unfortunately the shinny shell proved to be its Achilles heel – it had a poor finish and peeled too easily. 6650 Fold (2008, March: HSDPA 850 / 2100) Finally an S60 flip-phone released on time and modified to properly focus for the North/South American market segment. It did everything a feature phone could do with the prowess of S60 Operating System. Sleek design, effective camera for quick shots, nothing serious, and HSDPA 3G speeds ideal for streaming audio/video. Priced just right this will only sell moderately because Nokia does NOT know how to advertise correctly/efficiently in this marketplace. Nor do they know how to co-advertise. Now … jump to the current & previous year … the record drops in Nokia phone sales – heavily affecting S60 devices. In the rebirth of Touch Screen phones, Nokia took FAR too LONG to release an answer to the iPhone (original). Some of you may recall that Nokia had promised to combine the beneficial features of S60 with S90 to debut a touch screen smartphone back in 2004. Nokia took 2 long years of development in earnest to finally give us the 5800XM and soon the N97. What happened to the previous 3yrs promise of S90+S60 merging together? Hmmm. In 2005 Nokia focused an a particular market segment for Business class users. They engaged in business all across Europe & Asia for closed focus group studies for prototype devices to be used also with IntelliSync server/services. THe E61 debuted in October 2005 and without focus of the North/South American market. THis allowed for BlackBerry’s dominance to increase exponentially. In my mind this was the ripe year for Nokia to fully challenge BlackBerry. IntelliSync offered EVERY bit of capability as BES 3.6 did and with the added benefit of having support for devices from other manufacturers and OS types: S60, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and even BlackBerry devices too. Furthermore their devices had 3G a huge benefit for the European market, but left out yet again the North/South American market. The followup – E61i also ignored North/South American market. Yet this phone was properly focused on its particular market segment; and sold VERY well indeed. Last year … Nokia had an epiphany! Realising it can no longer afford to loose its business market, let alone ignore North/South American market segment it decided to use a neutral chipset manufacturer that could not only support various baseband 3G communications but also provide exceptional system performance without sacrificing battery life. Nokia finally had a device that focused on a specific target market of users while effectively encompassing varying market segments without refinishing the model into sub-models. 1 device, ready for various market segments (a true world phone), and offering what the target market wanted. The E71 was bourn! This was the business phone for users & corporations not tied to the chain of a RIM BES server! This was a device that allowed applications to use ANY connection (GPRS/EDGE/3G-HSDPA/WLAN), communicate to any entrenched communications infrastructure (Exchange Server 2003/2007, Lotus Domino 8/8.5+, CISCO VOIP/Avaya VOIP over WLAN/Cellular network) and allow the user to have his/her business phone also act as their personal phone while offering corporate security. The E71 is the BEST selling qwerty device EVER in Nokia’s history of making phones/smartphones! This surpased sales of its predecessor E61i and the E61, the E90, 9500 & 9300 Communicator, and any other communicator before it. Keep in mind the E71’s success was in the face of some VERY powerful competition as well: BB 9000 Bold, iPhone, and many other smartphones. It also did this without powerful video acceleration sub-processor or with VGA video recording capability at 30fps. The E71 does what its supposed to do and does it well; being more powerful with the software fully extending its capabilities. Sure you’ll hear gripes of no 3.5mm headset jack or small screen & QVGA resolution; but to those that have bought it and owned it will always state its a GREAT device. This brings me to the thought of Market Segmentation. Is there still a need for it in the struggling consumer & business economy? Apple, Samsung, and LG are making HUGE revenues and profits at Nokia’s lack of focus in their overall portfolio of devices by making 1 simple slab of device, making a multitude of slimmed down versions in different casings offering less features (hardware/software wise), and focusing on all possible target markets. They make the devices compatible for one particular market segment, while varying the models for other market segments. Their becoming increasingly efficient at doing this as well; regardless of the versatile choice of smartphone OS and platform choices. Apple makes one simple smartphone – an oxymoron to be sure – and is able to sell well over 1 million (it hoped for) its first year, and then over 17 million the following year! They’re now a global player but they believe 1 size fits all. Are they onto something here or is it a cyclical trend that will eventually fade or re-assess and evolve. RIM is able to survive & thrive in the face of this Touchscreen smartphone fits all by delivering what they do best and evolving by offering more features in just about every product they make. A 3.5mm headset jack is on every unit they make now regardless of the focused target market, and beginning to offer a higher resolution screen and larger screens in all their models excep for one – the 8220. In less than 30 days, Nokia will begin to show the world why it is THE largest phone manufacturer & camera manufacturer in the WORLD! THe N97 takes its design queues strongly from the success of the E71 – a few metal accents and no-nonsense design. A stark and eloquent design. Sure it grants what the world users currently want, the speed, efficiency, and minimal design of a touch screen, yet not forsaken physical qwerty keypad that some end users still rave and crave about. I’ll wager the N97’s success will come from beautiful harmony of blending these two worlds with an OS powerful enough to offer the user to Create, Consume, and Interract with the mobile web, not simply consume it. Sure MySpace & Facebook applications are available on BlackBerry and the mobile page versions available on iPhone > but the speed and power is nothing like what the N97 will offer. The N97 is not going to offer the best hardware of what Symbian can offer (very close though), but it will offer the best experience a user can have in a smartphone that will evolve and grow with them. Applications that offer tangeable use beyond 7 days use unlike that iPhone whos users game more than user productive apps and just simply surf and swipe their screens listening to audio & video. The N86 continues in the E71’s incredible design but offers a juggernaught of multimedia features viewable in a tasteful screen – AMOLED!! Those of you recording 30fps VGA video with great colour and motion, taking pictures day & night, making calls, IM, Emails, surfing the FULL real web – FLASH included on the N95 or N85 … will definately be looking towards the N86! It offers a hardened-glass screen that I’m sure will look and feel esquisite with the AMOLED display, with metal bezel and accents around. Its been so long since I’ve enjoyed incredible pictures and video playback on a phone that my E71 is feeling more inadequate as these beautiful sunshine summer days draw nearer! I’m torn between getting the multimedia features I’ve been missing in the N85 or N86 and not loosing the full qwerty keyboard & speed efficiency of my E71; N97. I can see a reason and place for touchscreen but I don’t need it nor prefer it. Clearly there is still a need for market segmentation but no longer in the traditional sense. Also, traditional smartphone or feature phone target markets are all but gone .. only the low end basic phone users and the feature aspiring users exist (excellent camera imagery, video recording troupe, gaming, and the new avanté garde touch screen troupe). Nokia has survived by continually evolving but they cannot afford to waist important market segments and design phones for a small specific target market in the mid-high tier range any longer.