Case Study: Nokia’s downfall

NOKIA — Is not just a name, but an emotion for almost all the 90s kids and their parents.

It was the time when the telephones were replaced with cellular phones and Bang, Nokia jumped into the market as magic, where none of us no more will commute from the kitchen to the living area to answer a call. Handy, comfortable yet efficient.

This post focuses on the reasons why Nokia failed after enjoying unrivaled dominance in the mobile segment for several years. The ferocious and mighty telecom giant Nokia was well known for its products’ hardware and battery life.

For years, it was the talk of the town. User satisfaction with Nokia’s mobiles was globally recognized. The company launched the first internet-enabled phone in 1996 and by the start of the millennium, Nokia also released a touch-screen mobile prototype.

Why did Nokia fail?

Nokia’s failure can be attributed to several reasons, including:
1. Competing in evolving smartphone market
2. Over-Dependant on outdated OS and hardware
3. Poor strategic decisions

1. Competing in evolving smartphone market

Nokia failed to take advantage of the Android bandwagon. When mobile phone manufacturers were busy improving and working on their smartphones, Nokia remained stubborn. Samsung soon launched its Android-based range of phones that were cost-effective and user-friendly.

Nokia’s management was under the impression that people wouldn’t accept touchscreen phones and would continue with the QWERTY keypad layout. This misapprehension was the start of its downfall. Nokia never considered Android as an advancement and neither wanted to adopt the Android operating system.

After realizing the market trends, Nokia introduced its Symbian operating system. However, it was too late by then with Apple and Samsung having cemented their positions. It was difficult for the Symbian operating system to make any inroads. This is the biggest reason behind Nokia’s downfall.

2. Over-Dependant on outdated OS and hardware

From a UX perspective, Nokia’s user interface and user experience design were also often criticized for being outdated, unintuitive, and difficult to use, especially compared to its competitors like Apple and Samsung. As a result, users were drawn to more user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces, contributing to Nokia’s decline in market share and ultimately its failure to compete in the smartphone market.

While Nokia continued to use its proprietary Symbian operating system and failed to innovate with newer technologies, Samsung made a strategic decision to invest heavily in the Android operating system and develop its own customized user interface on top of it, known as Samsung Experience or One UI. Samsung also focused on developing innovative hardware features, such as larger screens, AMOLED displays, stylus support, etc.

3. Poor trategic decisions

The company followed an unsuccessful strategy of umbrella branding. Apple was the first company to apply the umbrella branding model with the iPhone at the top. It kept adding new models to this umbrella year after year. Samsung followed the same route by launching the Samsung Galaxy series but Nokia failed to take cues.

The user trust Nokia built over the years was gradually waning. The company was inefficient in its selling and distribution methods. Seeing the mess, Nokia decided to come up with some fascinating hardware and software innovations. However, these were already released by Nokia’s rivals and lacked uniqueness.

Nokia’s failure in terms of UX can be attributed to several factors, including:

𝑳𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒐𝒇 𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒐𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏: Nokia failed to innovate and bring new features and technologies to their devices, which led to a stagnant user experience. They continued to rely on their old operating system, Symbian.

𝑷𝒐𝒐𝒓 𝒂𝒑𝒑 𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒔𝒚𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒎: Nokia’s app ecosystem was not as robust as its competitors, which resulted in a lack of quality apps on Nokia devices.

𝑰𝒏𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒖𝒔𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆: Nokia’s user interface was not consistent across their devices, which made it difficult for users to navigate and use their devices. This inconsistency made it challenging for users to switch between different Nokia devices, as they had to re-learn how to use each device.

In comparison, Samsung and Apple invested significantly in UX, which helped them succeed in the smartphone market.

Samsung introduced a consistent user interface across its devices.

Apple, on the other hand, focused on simplicity and ease of use, making its devices intuitive and user-friendly.

Both companies also invested heavily in their app ecosystems, providing users with a wide range of high-quality apps, which improved the overall user experience.

Now that Nokia has rebranded its logo for the 5th time in its legacy since 1865 and plans to hit back the market again.

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