James Moore: Nokia's ringtone sounds like a dying lament
James Moore is the Independent's Associate Business Editor and writes the Outlook City comment column from Tuesday to Friday. He also has a keen interest in disability issues and when not attempting to further injure himself playing wheelchair basketball.
Thursday 12 April 2012
Outlook Nokia was once a dull Finnish industrial conglomerate. Perhaps it should have stayed that way. The problem with the technology industry is that unless you operate an effective monopoly à la Microsoft, you're always running the risk that in the next six months to a year someone else will come up with better, brighter and (crucially) cooler products than you have.
Nokia's phones used to be as ubiquitous as, well, iPhones. Everyone had one. Now it seems that the chintzy little ringtone they came with, which almost attained the status of cultural icon, is sounding more and more like a dying lament.
Yesterday Stephen Elop, its chief executive, tried to put a brave face on things. The company is going to focus on, ahem, cutting costs and increasing sales. An imaginative strategy that one, but such shake-ups can work if you manage to keep enough of the energetic and creative types on board after the dust has settled.
The trouble is, you still need super-duper products to sell. And Nokia's flagship Lumia-900 doesn't even look duper right now, thanks to a bug being discovered three days after its launch. The name doesn't help. Lumia sounds lumpen by comparison to iPhone or Galaxy, rather like the corporate image of Nokia.
Still, the point about the tech world is that like Lazarus, resurrections are by no means impossible. Just look at Apple. Of course the latter had the assistance of a certain Steve Jobs, who was re-hired by the company when it was on its knees. It's hard to see Mr Elop as being in quite the same league.
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