All-in on WP7
Everyone knows Nokia has bet its future on Windows Phone 7-based smartphones, but the company has been the dominant provider of feature-phones and even mobiles that mainly just make calls - yes, there was once such a thing - for as long as we can remember.
So while it's not necessarily a huge surprise, the news that Nokia is pulling out of the feature-phone market entirely in North America certainly marks a significant moment.
And this is more than just a rumour or nugget from ‘sources close to the situation'. It comes from Chris Weber - the head of Nokia's US subsidiary - in an interview with All Things D. "When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc," he said. "It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn't matter what we do [elsewhere]."
Nokia has famously struggled to gain market share in the US over the years, so it's as good a market as any to try out a new ‘WP7 or bust' strategy. But this move does make us wonder whether this strategy might be applied to other developed markets before long, where the smartphone is fast becoming the default choice for end-users. We asked Nokia for a statement on this, but had yet to receive one at time of writing.
"As an organisation Nokia takes a market by market approach to product rollout and each country decides which products to introduce from those available. These decisions are based on a local assessment of existing and upcoming products that make up Nokia's product portfolio and are intended to provide the best local portfolio for the UK market. Although we are delighted with the very positive reception that the Nokia N9 has received, here in the UK there are no plans to offer the Nokia N9 at present."
The reasons for Nokia launching the MeeGo-based N9 on the eve of its move to WP7 remain unclear, and we must assume it resulted from a contractual commitment to Intel. But making such a product available in countries where it has bet everything on the success of WP7 smartphones would surely be madness, so the decision not to bring the N9 to the US or UK seems wise.