Nokia chief Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo was put on the defensive late yesterday in an interview regarding the poor performance of the N97 versus Apple's iPhone. When asked by the FT about the critical reaction to his own smartphone, which has been criticized for being too expensive, too slow and lacking a modern touch interface, the executive claimed the N97 was still viable but admitted he wanted to do better, particularly highlighting the increasing emphasis on Ovi services like the music store and navigation.
"We are competitive in the marketplace right now as we speak," Kallasvuo said. "[But] we will make efforts to be even more competitive going forward."
Most of Nokia's hopes for the near future are reportedly placed on the N900, which the newspaper like many rumor sources now believes will show at Nokia World on September 2nd. The handset has many similar hardware traits of the N97 but uses Maemo, Nokia's in-house Linux variant and a much more touchscreen-ready interface.
Regardless of statements, Nokia has lately struggled to make headway in the smartphone arena as it only had its first touchscreen device in fall of last year, more than a year and a half after the iPhone was first unveiled, and shipped the N97 just a day after Apple had revealed its third-generation handset, the iPhone 3GS. The delay and Nokia's relatively conservative approach to its other phones has not only cost Nokia market share in smartphones over the past several quarters but has handed Apple 32 percent of phone market profits this past spring, eclipsing Nokia's 28 percent despite coming from a newer, much smaller competitor.
Much of the difference comes from the device price, as Apple's devices normally cost about $199 US when subsidized versus most of Nokia's line, which often costs near that amount only at full price and is often inexpensive or free on a contract. The App Store has also helped as Apple gets 30 percent of each paid app over a large volume of downloads where Nokia's Ovi Store arrived roughly a year later and is only one source for downloading Symbian apps.