What Apple Can Teach Nokia and Sony
In the battle of Apple and Android, struggling phone makers like Nokia and Sony can gain ground by taking a closer look at why you choose the phones you do. Apple studied the factors motivating you to choose Android over its own phones, and the results pointed it to carrier loyalty as the number-one reason for picking a phone.
The iPhone maker, which conducted the internal survey when it had an exclusive contract with AT&T, discovered nearly half of respondents chose Android because they wanted to stay with their carrier. The results underscore the decision to abandon AT&T's contract and bring the iPhone to Verizon and Sprint, among other carriers -- leading to Apple's surge in market share.
But Apple isn't the only phone maker that can benefit from that discovery. As Apple and Samsung grapple for market dominance, rivals like Nokia and Sony can take a cue and get their phones with more carriers and in more hands.
Exclusivity vs. Wide Availability
Nokia is considering exclusive partnerships with European carriers when it releases its first Windows 8 devices in the fall. Currently, the Lumia 900 is only available through AT&T and the Lumia 710 through T-Mobile. But AllThingsD reports Nokia is taking a play out of Apple's book by mirroring an exclusivity agreement with AT&T. If Nokia is wise, it would forgo the deal to push the device to everyone. But outside Europe, that's a difficult feat.
In the States, carriers wield much of the power over what phones are sold. Apple, really the only anomaly, had enough clout to sign a lopsided deal with AT&T, giving it the lion's share of the revenue. The demand and anticipation for the iPhone was, and still is, beyond any other device. In short, there's the iPhone, and then there's everyone else.
Nokia needs to do whatever it can to break into more carriers, even if that means taking a hit on the revenue split. The more devices it can get on carriers' shelves, the more consumers can try, and hopefully buy, its products.
Beyond a wider distribution channel, the strength of the brand plays a significant role in why people chose Android over Apple. Buyers cited their trust in Google as the second most popular reason, so Nokia and Sony have a long road ahead. Years ago, Nokia built quality handsets, but the failure to transition to apps lead to its downfall. Now, with its fortunes largely tied to Microsoft and Windows, Nokia doesn't have an easy solution -- and the cards are stacked against its turnaround.
Unlike Nokia, Sony has all the advantages of Android, but it has yet to capitalize on it like Samsung, and to a smaller degree, the now-faltering HTC. For one, only the Xperia Ion is available on AT&T. But Sony products often run an outdated version of Android, with a heavy-emphasis on entertainment like gaming, or photography or music.
The fact is, consumers have little interest for these features, instead preferring the plethora of apps and software, much like PC owners care more about programs rather than keyboards and webcams. Until Sony understands that processor speed, high-resolution displays and a top-notch Android platform are the keys to success, it'll continue to lose revenue, while Samsung dominates the marketplace.
Lastly, the bigger screen size in Android devices was an advantage over Apple. Nearly one-in-three said having a larger screen played a key role in buying a Droid, which Apple is taking into account with its next iPhone. The Wall Street Journal reported the iPhone 5 will come with a larger 4 inch display, pointing to Apple's awareness that bigger often means better.
For Nokia and Sony, bigger screens lead to a better app experiences, better video viewing and better browsing, re-enforcing that consumers want a smartphone, rather than a camera phone, or music phone or gaming phone. The lesson: focus on the platform and the features, and leave out the bells and whistles.
Apple's internal investigation produced invaluable insight that may or may not be so obvious. Android is heading in the right direction, but struggling phone makers like Nokia and Sony may need a push in the right direction, before they end up like RIM.
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Categories: News Desk