by July 1, 2010 0 comments

With the number of people who ask me “Which mobile phone?”, you’d think I’d
have it all sorted out when I need a new handset. Well. Very far from it.

It’s a bit like with food and drink…which I enjoy way more than tech. I’m
always trying out restaurants, and giving instant replies to SMSs like “Where’s
al-fresco Thai in South Delhi?” or “Good Korean in Gurgaon?” or “I’m on Brigade
Road… or LB Road…what’s the Jap place here?” But when I have my own dining
to plan, out comes the spreadsheet, and into it goes an hour of research.

Buying tech products is a long and complex process for technophiles.

I know I have to upgrade my Nokia E51, like, last year. It doesn’t even have
GPS (I use a Bluetooth dongle), its battery life is terrible, it’s shaky with
apps. But I just haven’t found the next one.

I’ve tested hundreds of phones over the years, but have mostly stuck to
Nokia, after an early Ericsson and a Siemens S10. My longest runner was Nokia’s
6310i, with its week-long battery life, and GPRS, Bluetooth, and other features
ahead of its time.

But a phone ain’t a phone today. It’s a computer. An apps platform. And the
choice of a phone, especially for business users, often boils down to the apps,
and thus the platform.

My top app on my Nokia E51 is BlackBerry Connect. The best of both worlds:
the top email service, on a 12-key Nokia with T9 (my choice: I’m a heavy typist
and I dislike QWERTY pads).

Oh-oh… Nokia no longer supports BlackBerry. Neither on the E71, nor the E52
(my choice: slim, good battery life, GPS…in a 12-key phone). And why? Because
it wants to push its own Ovi email and other Ovi services.

But a corporate email service isn’t a handset. You can’t change email service
on a whim. And I’m happy with BlackBerry service.

So in essence, Nokia is saying that if I want to upgrade from the E51, I
should change my corporate email service….or else move to a non-Nokia handset.
I asked their CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, and he said you have to make some
sacrifices when you make a big shift.

The big shift is into services: a bit like IBM, Nokia wants to move from
hardware to services, along with the better margins and revenue. At the likely
cost of topline (and some loyal customers).

Well, a big shift has already happened. In a market dominated by Nokia, its
share of handsets (by revenue) is down from 66% in 2008-09 to 52% in 2009-10,
according to Voice&Data’s V&D100 Indian Telecom Survey 2010. That’s a 14% points

Who gained? Over 10% share was gained by the ‘Indian’ brands like Micromax,
Spice, Karbonn, Lava and Lemon…with their dual SIM cards, QWERTYs and Rs 5k
price tags. And Samsung gained 7% points, from 10% to 17%.

Nokia’s already fallen behind the curve a few times, earlier with all-touch
phones, and, in India, completely missing the market demand for a dual-SIM phone
(it finally has one). It will have to move faster. In this market, the cheese
really does keeps moving. Or has Nokia found better cheese?

Oh, and I do have an upgrade option now. BlackBerry finally has a
numeric-key, T9-based Pearl 3G, minus the sticky pearl.

Prasanto K Roy is chief editor (ICT) at CyberMedia.
You can find him at or

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