Nokia’s Newer, Dumber Business Model: Sue Apple

More than a year ago, in June 2008, I wrote about how Nokia’s clueless approach to serving the US smartphone market basically handed that market to Apple on a silver platter by the time the 3G iPhone launched.

Last week, GigaOm reported that Nokia is now suing Apple, claiming technology patent infringement. And on Oct. 15 CNET reported on Nokia’s dire slide in the US smartphone market.

According to GigaOm:

“Nokia is looking to collect patent royalties of 1 or 2 percent for each iPhone sold, according to a note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, which — given the roughly 34 million iPhone units already in the hands of users — would amount to $200 million-$400 million. That’s not a lot of money to either company, of course. But Nokia is clearly hoping it can be more successful in the courtroom than it’s been in the marketplace.”

Nokia: Really? Is this what you’ve sunk to?

There are far better ways. Here are some options…

Nokia: How about finding ways to get the price of your smartphones phones down to compete with the iPhone?

How about offering smartphone service to your US users on reasonable terms? If my ultra-expensive Nokia phone breaks, don’t make me mail it back to you at my own expense and wait up to a month to get it back. Don’t tell me to drop by one of your flagship stores — because you’ve only got two (count ’em: two!) US stores.

How about achieving both of those first two goals by finally cutting some deals with some US carriers? I know you don’t like the way they play. No one does. They all suck. But they do rule this market. If you want in on this market, you’ve got to play with them.

If you want to be accessible to most US smartphone consumers, they need to be able to buy, service, and replace their Nokia phones locally. Plus getting a subsidized price break for handsets would help a lot.

Yes, unlocked phones are nice…  IF they’re not outrageously expensive to buy, or exceedingly onerous or risky to repair or replace.

Also, how about releasing Android phones? Symbian and Maemo are OK, but just too geeky for most folks. I really don’t understand why you’re still fighting Android when you’re already losing in this market.

Nokia, if you care about the US smartphone market, then please start acting like you really want to be here. Work with us. Stop digging your heels in and telling us what you think we should want. Rather than snapping at Apple’s heels, why don’t you invest in building a real business here?

You make pretty good smartphones, Nokia. I like them. It’s just the recalcitrant way you do business that turns me — and a lot of other would be Nokia users — off cold.

If you don’t want to be here, then just bow out. You’ve got a strong market presence in the rest of the world. You may not really need to be a player in the US smartphone market.

The biggest challenge in business is deciding which business you’re really in. That’s partly about deciding which business you want to be in, and also not kidding yourself (and others) about what business you’re really in. Nokia, I suspect you need to ask yourself some frank, basic questions about the nature of your US smartphone business

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