Besides trimming the product line and cashing in on investments to get the company back to profitability, Jobs and Apple introduced the iMac, Mac OS X, Apple Stores, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, and that set the stage for even more revolutions in the years to follow. Today, Apple appears in decline. Who will replace Apple as the tech darling of the 21st century?
It Could Happen
Nah, just kidding. Get real. How could a company that is now little more than an ancient brand name compete against mighty Apple, Samsung, and the Android juggernaut in the smartphone industry? Seriously? Who would think that such a thing could happen? Has anything so crazy happened before?
Nokia smartphones are poised for a comeback after former managers at the Finnish company licensed the handset brand from Microsoft and struck up partnerships with Google and phone manufacturer Foxconn.
Good luck with that.
All Nokia has going for it now is the name Nokia. Google’s Android OS is free, so that’s easy enough to come by. Foxconn is a Chinese company that also makes Apple’s iPhone. What Nokia could do is make yet another Chinese manufactured Android-based smartphone. Is that a formula for success? Since Apple owns about 100-percent of the entire industry’s profits, Nokia has a David and Goliath battle ahead.
There are two issues here.
The first is this– it has happened before. Apple had absolutely no presence in the smartphone industry at all, launched the underpowered and overpriced iPhone in 2007 to critical howls of indignation from market and technology analysts, but the phone was sufficiently advanced over its rivals that customers could see and feel the difference and lined up to buy it by the tens of millions and it became the best selling smartphone ever.
The second is this– yes, it has happened before. Apple’s iPhone was an arguable but obvious improvement over the status quo, and while it took a few years for the company to polish the iPhone and ramp up manufacturing, demand was strong for years and made the company’s phone the darling of the industry (not to mention bringing in tremendous riches). In other words, Apple made a better mouse trap and the world beat a path to its door. Nokia needs to do exactly the same thing because of what I call product marketing math.
In my math, an industry leader can be defeated by an upstart when it introduces a product that is obviously better in many ways than the status quo and industry leaders, but priced about the same. Or, when the upstart introduces a competing product that is as good as the status quo in many ways, but is priced much less.
Without one of those two instances taking place, customers do not have a compelling reason to switch from status quo to something new. Remember, Nokia was the top selling brand in 2007, the year Apple launched the iPhone. A few years later the company was effectively out of business, sold off to Microsoft for a few billion dollars, and later shuttered completely.
Today, Nokia is just an ancient brand name which is not likely to provide much sentiment or longing for customers who only know about iPhones and Samsung phones and other Android-based smartphones.
Unless Nokia’s new owners have something new and different, something so technologically advanced that it would take Apple or Samsung or other Chinese manufacturers years to catch up to this next great thing with an old brand name, Nokia 2017 is doomed to remain a footnote in the smartphone wars of the 21st century.