MANHASSET, New York — In business or politics, it's tough for an incumbent to win against up-and-comers advocating "change" customers can believe in.
In the mobile world, that's Nokia challenge today.
Lately, things are a little rough for the Finnish giant, because its fresh competitors happen to be red-hot brand names like Apple and Google. Even though these competitors' smart-phone market share tends to be either small (in the case of Apple's iPhone) or non-existent (Google's Android platform) yet, the problem for Nokia is the buzz. In a fast-moving consumer world, hot and new trumps tried and true. (see: Users' love affair with iPhone stumps Mobile World panel)
Nokia's antidote to all that buzz is its S60 mobile platform, based on Symbian OS. The S60 mobile software platform isn't exactly new. It's been around long enough to be licensed to a number of mobile device manufacturers, including LG, Panasonic and Samsung.
Next week in Barcelona, Nokia is holding an "S60 Summit," featuring its S60 partners, software developers, handset manufacturers and mobile operators. Nokia will run a host of seminars and showcase new capabilities of the S60 platform. Although Nokia is not disclosing anything, the summit's highlights seem certain to include several cool new mobile handset announcements.
The two day event will surely be a love fest for the S60 "eco-system" community. The 500 participants range from application software developers to semiconductor and handset vendors, according to Matti Vanska, vice president, mobile software sales & marketing at Nokia.
With the ability to flash big numbers — like 150 million S60 mobile devices shipped thus far by licensees, and 75 S60-based device models on the market today — Nokia would seem to be sitting on top of the world.
Well, are they?
Frank Dickson, co-founder and chief research officer, at MultiMedia Intelligence, among others, is dubious. He said, "Nokia's position in smart phones is absolutely under pressure."
He said the pressure is coming from two directions: "a head-on attack" from a wave of new devices based on open platforms; and "an attack from behind" by feature phones increasingly loaded with PDA-like functionality.