The Nokia N97 and US Carriers: A Realistic Partnership?

Fortune magazine recently reports on the worldwide launch of the Nokia N97, but primarily concentrates on Nokia’s lack of presence in the US market. A definite anomaly: just why can’t the world’s biggest cellphone manufacturer seem to make a dent on America?

You have clear proof of Nokia’s commitment to the US, and grumblings from carriers like AT&T that they’re not willing to play the carrier game.

That, according to Fortune, is a big reason driving Nokia continued loss of market share in the US:

Nokia also refused to cater to American phone companies’ whims. In Europe and Asia, consumers usually buy phones and telephone service separately, so Nokia needs to please only the end user. In the U.S., where phones and service are sold together, carriers want control over the way the phones look and perform. (Another challenge for Nokia is that the dominant wireless standard in North America is CDMA; most Nokia phones are designed to operate on the global standard, GSM.)

Heck, I’m really tempted to lambast the carriers and call them out for wanting to keep their control over the cellphone market in the US. But the fact is that US consumers would rather lock themselves into a two-year plan than pay for a phone outright. That’s a fact that Nokia should start accepting, because it may call for a more accommodating relationship with the carriers.

Ot, alternatively, the Finnish manufacturer should start reconsidering its plans. But whether they like it or not, mobile success in the US may be very important after all:

By lagging in smartphones Nokia isn’t just missing out on sales; it may also be losing the attention of software developers that make cool games and applications for mobile devices, a growing number of which operate in the U.S.

Nokia is reinventing itself yet again as an Internet company, a sort of Yahoo.com for your phone. It is trying to woo application developers to its mobile platform through offices in Silicon Valley and Boston. You’d think it would be tantalizing to write software for the world’s largest mobile platform. But ask developers worldwide to show you their favorite mobile apps, and they’ll probably pull out their iPhones.

(Image from The Smart PDA)

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Comments

5 Responses to “The Nokia N97 and US Carriers: A Realistic Partnership?”
  1. stan says:

    its strange how the US carriers have this locking thing tied up. IN Asia, and parts of Europe, cell phones aren’t locked and people switch SIM cards when travelling as some providers have better signal strength in some areas.

    In US (and Canada) the cell service providers have us right where they want us. We have to pay for text messages (both sending and receiving) and our phones are locked to their system.

    At some point there has to be a change!

  2. Raman says:

    Irrespective of anything, as customers, we definitely lose out. Another problem with US (because of this Carrier + Phone business model) is that if I have a phone (CDMA or GSM) from elsewhere, I can’t get a service provider to provide me with the service. I have to chuck the existing phone and buy a new one just because a Carrier CEOs think that’s a better idea.

    Talk about communism!!

    • itsalljustaride (subscribed) says:

      This situation is far from communism. It’s the result of unfettered capitalism, actually. The carriers are free to concoct any system that they choose, and as such they have chosen the route of fencing in their customers with the lure of subsidized phones that lock them into contracts. One would think that customers and the market would reject this scheme which is completely oppositional to choice and competition, but they don’t, and we all lose out. This scheme and the fact that CDMA still holds a large share of the technological infrastructure when the whole rest of the world is on GSM is the reason the US gets the short end of the stick with regard to great new phones that come out in Asia and elsewhere. It kills competition, and the carriers are fine with that, but it means we get second-rate technology.

  3. Quentin says:

    Absolutely. The phone carriers love to lock your phone down so you can’t install anything without paying them, and love to tell you what you can’t do even though you still can see on the hardware. Like all the text message dirs are right there if you do a ls or dir, but want to read it? Nope, locked down. Pointless? Yeah, if you are wanting to make your customer mad.

    Is why I love my n810. Is a nicer piece of hardware than anything Alltel offers, and can tether from phone for internet. My next phone will be based on battery life, and only needs dun bluetooth really. Ya, more than a 50 message inbox will be nice too. It’s sad that a 2 year old nokia device offers so much more in every way than any cellphone my cell company offers, heh. They just want to nickel and dime you, and if you spend time making a big deal out of it they will probably just find more reasons to screw you. If you want to have a lot of fun with your phone probably best option is to move to Japan or Korea. That being said I feel iphone is a losing proposition cause you are completely at the mercy of when Apple feels it’s time to let you use the phone as you want. Sure, there’s thousands of apps, but it’s not open and frankly, I doubt I will ever be cool enough to use apple :( Had a apple ipod shuffle pink postage stamp thing till it got stolen once though :) That being said Alltel has about 100X more professional and capable phone agents than AT&T. Just givin the 15 hours of time they spent forwarding me around when I moved my home line to alltel, a different company… They are like We have nothing to do with how much time you are buying on our competitor, and if our agents are completely worthless you should have bought more minutes…I had to upgrade my plan, twice. U.S.A. phone companies need to get spanked.

  4. HM says:

    I got my unlocked E71 outside of AT&T after one of their reps explained to me that they no longer carry smart phones from Nokia because of network problems. Well, with the article above , we know the real issue behind the Nokia phones. Plus, after so many customers got the E71 on their own, AT&T buckled and released it BUT it is absolutely sub standard to the one I got and even to my old E61 (I did get that from AT&T) in both look and feel. I couldn’t believe it. Way to go big fat cat cell phone giant.

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