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Subsidized vs Retail Unlocked/Non-branded

June 7, 2009

Today’s post is pretty simple. Something echo’d throughout North American mobile computer purchasers of Symbian for quite some time now.

To put my thoughts on this more clearly I’d like to highlight a Q&A post excerpt from All About Symbian’s Nokia N97 The Sequel review.

You talk a lot in your great “audio unboxing” podcast about big changes through future firmware updates. Presumably most people (who can’t afford sim-free phones) will not benefit from these unless they take the risk of de-branding the phone? Or has Nokia come up with a way of separating out their own updates from the Carrier’s tweaks?

You’re right. Anyone who buys a carrier-branded phone is at the mercy of the carrier’s incompetence. As usual. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Whatever the cost.

^ This may work for those that have the cash around the world and willing to get rid of horrible provider branding – inlcuding that on the Ovi Store partnerships; its not working for Nokia in the USA. Many of you know that Nokia is not doing so well in the USA – Nokia E71 on AT&T is a blessing really to S60 but its debuted far too late to make a significant dent in the ecosphere of mobile OS wars. Problem right now is the value of the USA dollar is topsy-turvy at best and most users buying power is very limited in terms of initial cost of smartphones. RIM’s BlackBerry, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, and even Apple’s iPhone offers ALL great features through firmware updates to providers offering their devices [Microsoft through partners like HTC/Samsung/LG/SE don’t do it often but its getting better].

Also, Nokia, its not that most users do not HAVE the cash for paying outright retail for a smartphone. The point is they do NOT WISH to do so. The iPhone has begun to commoditize the smartphone industry in every sense and because of this their successful. RIM even more so – actually like Apple’s model RIM’s best option is to release feature ladden firmware updates to providers as hardly ANY of their products ship through their own direct retail channel – online only or if you happen to visit their headquarters in Waterloo.

I think its time that Nokia from the conception – through early development – to product prototype stage work with providers like AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon in the USA, Rogers Wireless/Telus Mobility & Bell Mobility in Canada; as much as they do abroad in Europe for ALL future devices. If not they’ll continue to loose marketshare – which equals less sales – which equal lower or soon lack of revenue; leading into expenses – and soon looking to extend dwindling loans from financiers (Banks/Trust/Government bailout) – which lead to more layoffs and soon bankruptcy. For a company as large as Nokia … 320Million in liquidible assets (cash mostly) is NOT a lot per quarter to survive on.

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