Just Say Nokia

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-04-10 Print this article Print

  • Apple is the brand. Theres no way in Helsinki that Steve Jobs will stand for the kind of customer ownership Sumo match that Nokia has been playing with the carriers for the past few years, only to see its market share start to be eroded by Korean insurgents. In Steves world, distribution is a necessary evil; I can just see him storming around the board room, asking Al Gore why users cant just come to Cupertino to pick up their Macs? (As for me, my Gulfstream is in the shop.) Dissatisfied with the retail experience for its products, Apple launched its own stores after already having a successful online direct channel; thats vertical integration on the scale of the Seattle Space Needle. The company wants to control so much of the user experience—from your presentation package to your email address—that if it could break even delivering its own products instead of using Airborne Express, it would. In theory, a controlled network concept like SPOT would probably appeal to Apple (just add those usage charges to .Mac), but Apple tends to favor media-rich experiences, not something that is ultimately bionic WAP.
  • A lack of Mac. At some point, Steve the clone-killer is going to have to test the waters outside the Mac market if he really wants to expand market share. Until then, however, Apples products must follow at least a cursory orbit around the Macintosh. Sure, cell phones are part of the "digital lifestyle" that once punctuated Steves keynotes, but are they really going to move beyond the Sony Ericsson clicker in adding value to the platform?
  • The rough ride. Id hate to be the business analyst trying to defend this idea to Steve Jobs. Unlike the MP3 player business, which was relatively immature, success in the cell phone business is harder to find than Nemo. Qualcomm and Ericsson basically threw in the towel, not even Sonys brand image has helped Sony Ericsson rise in the ranks, and Microsoft cant seem to buy its way in. Competition is fierce and global, and product cycles are shorter than they are in the PC business.


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