Support the old to encourage the new

Nokia’s first foray into the Internet Tablet world was the 770, a 141mm x 79mm x 19mm bundle of great potential. Their Maemo platform was a step in the right direction for mobile devices and choosing Linux as their operating system was a great decision. So what’s currently gone wrong with their Internet Tablet strategy?

The 770 is ‘cheap as chips’

Nokia’s latest decision to dramatically reduce the price of the 770 has been a master stroke on their part. For example, in the UK you can, at the time of writing, get a Nokia 770 Internet Tablet for £73.40!

This is at the magical consumable price point. It’s not to prohibitive that potential buyers would dismiss it as being too expensive and in the same vein it lures the people who weren’t even in the market for something like this to part with their hard earned cash. Effectively Nokia has created a whole new customer base for itself.

Ordinarily this would be a welcome event for any manufacturer but in the case of the 770 they could in fact be ‘shooting themselves in the foot’.

Product Maturity

You see the problem with the 770 is that Nokia treated it as a test bed. A dip of the toe into the proverbial tablet waters if you like. This is all very well and good but I’m sure they were aware that the platform they created on the 770 would need a good deal of maturing to give them at least a chance against the likes of the Microsoft offerings in the same space.

Windows mobile has seen may incarnations over the years, some good, most bad but the underlining factor its that these guys (and gals) have been at it for some time. They have ironed out many bugs and digested many user reports which has enabled them to produce a some-what stable platform. Nokia on the other hand seems to have abandoned the 770.


In a recent announcement, arguably the most popular Linux desktop distributor, Ubuntu, announced an initiative to develop an ultra mobile version of its software. This was big news, even the BBC here in the UK picked up on it. The most damming news for Nokia was that is was to support the x86 architecture rather than Nokia’s arm base one and thus would not be compatible with any hardware Nokia had previously released. But the encouraging signs are there that Nokia’s involvement with the Hildon desktop for mobile devices will not be in vein as that could be used in future devices from other manufacturers.

A customers perspective

With the influx of new users, Nokia has now got a rather large problem if is to lead the way with Internet Tablets. You could say that Nokia is at a transitional period when it comes to this market. Sure, they are pretty damn successful in the mobile phone market but who can honestly envisage a future where your mobile phone just takes calls, a text message and the occasional photo here and there?

Nokia were very smart to see that the future is a mobile ‘computer’ not a phone but they may disgruntle future adopters of their platform by leaving past customers wanting.

Many people are coming in at the bottom end. Buying the 770 as an impulse buy, just to try it out. But what they will get is a buggy, unfinished and unpolished bit of hardware that will grace many a second hand sale on ebay or the likes. For a Linux geek its great, for Mr Smith who thought it looked cool and the price was great, Nokia just lost a future customer.

First impressions last

Nokia should see their recent stock sell off as an opportunity to sell more future products, not an opportunity to try to claw back some revenue from unsold 770’s. Support the 770, don’t abandon it just because its not the latest and greatest. Sure, the N800 is where the profit margin is but how many 770 owners will upgrade if they are dissatisfied with the 770? How many will choose the N900 (or what ever Nokia choose to call it) and how many will just jump ship to an Ubuntu/Intel derived model?

Make a good impression, that’s what I was always told by my mom, because once you’ve made it, you can’t take it back.


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August 2007
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