Nokia is missing the bus, why the N96 is not good enough

Disruptive technologies don’t always come with revolutionary new technology or feature-packed packages. And this is no different with the iPhone/Nokia debate going on today after Nokia failed to impress with the announcement of the N96 multimedia phone.

The fact is that Nokia is missing the bigger point and the proverbial bus. One year after the launch of the iPhone, Nokia should be following on the heals of Apple and presenting a credible alternative to the second largest selling smartphone in the US market as of Q4/2007. But no, they just packed another set of features (already hard to use or even find in the older models) into another phone that could be said to be “more of the same”.

With this play, Nokia is missing the point illustrated by the Hard Drive business in the 1980’s. It is not “more of the same” that will change the market and gain market share. It is innovation! Not technological innovation, but useful innovation.

As Christensen put is in “The Innovator’s Dilemma“:

Generally disruptive innovations were technologically straightforward, consisting of off-the-shelf components put together in a product architecture that was often simpler than prior approaches. They offered less of what customers in established markets wanted and so could rarely be initially employed there. They offered a different package of attributes valued only in emerging markets remote from, and unimportant to, the mainstream.

What’s most amazing is that there’s already an S60 “touch” which is the operating system that Nokia uses in their smartphones.

Today, if you want a decent Internet phone from Nokia you have little choice: the bulky Communicator/E90, the “Blackberry Killer” E61i/E62 or the ugly E70. None of these phones comes close to the elegance, size efficiency or usability of the iPhone, and none of them competes with the iPhone in the “player” market for iPhones (music/video/etc.).

I wonder when Nokia will wake up… Probably not too soon judging by the time it took them to release their “Blackberry killer”: 7 years!!!!!