Nokia is having problems with some N8 smartphones, its long-awaited new flagship device and the first to run the Symbian 3 operating system. In a Nov. 18 post on the Nokia blog, the company acknowledged that "a very small number" of users have complained that their N8s aren't switching on properly.
"We have narrowed it down to the way we assemble the engines," Nokia Executive Vice President Niklas Savander said in a video on the blog, presumably meaning the central components of the device. Though only a small number of the handsets shipped have been affected, Savander emphasized, "we have, as a precautionary measure, taken immediate action across the product line."
It appears the faulty devices weren't just shipped to a single geography.
When it's suggested, then, that given the small number, Savander isn't concerned, he responds, "I am concerned. Any dissatisfaction of an individual consumer with a Nokia product is always a source of concern. So on an individual level, absolutely." Though on a broad scale, he adds - with so many customers saying they're thrilled with their N8 handsets - "no."
After introducing the N8 in April, the devices finally began leaving Nokia factories in Finland and China in late September. The N8 features a 3.5-inch high-definition capacitive touch screen, a 12-megapixel camera with HD video and HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) support, 16GB of built-in memory and a microSD slot for 48GB more. It has a full Web browser, support for email and 2D and 3D graphics, and offers free Ovi Maps for walking and driving directions in more than 70 countries.
The N8 - as well as the E7, C6 and C7 smartphones - represent Nokia's "shift into high gear," Savander said in his opening address at the Nokia World 2010 event in September. Though still the leading global handset maker, Nokia's market share has in recent quarters been eaten away by the Apple iPhone and Android-running smartphones, due to its previous lack of a truly competitive high-end device.
In a July report, Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston called the N8 a "credible alternative to Apple and Android touch screen models," and in a teardown of the device, repair site iFixit's team reported that "Nokia has packed this phone full of awesome features."
Whether Nokia can sell enough of the handsets-which don't come with the carrier subsidies that have made the iPhone and Android handsets more affordable to U.S. consumers-remains to be seen.
Strand Consult, in a Nov. 18 report, pointed out that Nokia has not only achieved success "on the low and medium end" of the mobile phone market, but that it is "selling over twice as many smartphones as their closest competitor." Nokia's actual problem, said the report, is its communication skills - an irony not lost on the analysts.
"The billion dollar question," stated the report, is whether Nokia's new CEO, Stephen Elop, is "capable of improving Nokia's communication to the extent that the global press corps - and especially the stock market - will gain a better understanding of Nokia and the staggering number of customers that are actually purchasing Nokia mobile phones every day."
Customers experiencing problems with an N8 handset, Nokia said, should contact Nokia Care, as "warranty rules apply."