Nokia: an unscientific study

Hong Kong-based independent mobile industry analyst Tomi Ahonen is one of the most prominent critics of Nokia. One of the points that Ahonen makes is that the Nokia N9 (based on the MeeGo operating system; parts of which has now been incorporated into Samsung’s mobile operating system Tizen) is more attractive than the equivalent Nokia Lumia phones.

Nokia has been suspiciously ambiguous about Nokia N9 sales numbers. Mr Ahonen has made some guesses that put the N9 selling in broadly the same numbers as the Lumia range; despite not being sold in many developed world markets and not being backed by a $150 million advertising campaign. These are just estimates so I was curious to to see what the relative interest was for Lumia devices versus N9 when they are sold side-by-side.

I decided to look at Expansys.com. Expansys is the place to go for early adopters to get the kind of handsets that UK carriers, Phones4U and Carphone Warehouse don’t want to sell. In common with many sophisticated e-commerce websites Expansys has a search function that has an auto-suggestion function based on popularity to help get consumers to the item they want as fast as possible.
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In this unscientific study the N9 is more popular than all the Lumia models – when the products are sold side-by-side, which is probably why Nokia has taken care to minimise the amount of market competition between the Lumia and the N9. This still doesn’t give me any idea on differentiation between the N9 and the Lumia models.

I decided to have a look at the different Lumia models and the N9 on Google Insights for Search. What this shows is an overall decline in interest on all the premium Nokia brand phones I looked at over time. Whilst the Lumia 800 has been the most popular on the chart, the gap between it and the Nokia N9 doesn’t merit the fact that Nokia blew an estimated $150 million promoting the Lumia 800 – their biggest ever budget and didn’t for the N9.

One could argue that Nokia has been handicapped in its carrier relations because of Microsoft’s Skype acquisition, and reviewers have given the handsets themselves mixed reviews. But what I found most disturbing is that it seems that the evidence suggests consumers have failed to be sufficiently excited the Lumia phones; that an unpromoted, unsupported handset running an operating system that Nokia has killed off is giving the Lumia range a run for its money – despite the Lumia range having Nokia’s largest ever marketing campaign behind it.

Nokia still has a stretch of runway to make its transformation complete, but it doesn’t fill one with confidence, perhaps RIM will be the third mobile eco-system?

More information
Who Wants Numbers? Lumia on T-Mobile? Lumia 800 vs Lumia 710? How Many Nokia N9? – Communities Dominate Brands