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Nokia's numbers game: why changing names won’t change a thing

Nokia's numbers game: why changing names won’t change a thing

Nokia’s world has been turned upside down in 2011, as Symbian continues its inexorable slide down the smartphone charts and Windows Phone waits in the wings. And the mobile-maker’s latest move to tweak its brand and stop the rot has caused plenty of fevered debate among mobile watchers: changing its naming strategy.

The company, known in recent years for its C, E, N, and X series of phones, is going back to basics. Its phones will now simply be numbered, with a simple system that says the higher the number, the better the phone.

nokia large logo

Simplistic? Yes. Smart? Maybe. Potentially confusing? Definitely. Important? Certainly not.

Changing the naming strategy won’t change a thing at Espoo. It’s the quality of the phones, and more importantly the failure of hardware and software to merge effectively, that has caused this almighty problem for Nokia.

It’s easy to see Nokia’s argument that the various series of phones caused confusion, as services and users’ expectations became intertwined.

As Nokia says on its Conversations blog: “The classifications were indicators, but often, they didn’t match-up to what people were actually doing with their phones.” And while the new numbers strategy does have some logic behind it, it won’t work if Nokia insists on churning out handsets like there’s no tomorrow.

Take the new Nokia 500 for instance. It’s Nokia’s first 1GHz phone, but runs Symbian Anna, an OS we’re told is on its way out. Not only that, it completely undermines the MeeGo-packing N9.

nokia n9 triptych

If you want to stop confusion, stop releasing so many phones and get on with releasing the one phone that everyone’s talking about: the Windows Phone-loaded Sea Ray.

This new numbers game highlights just how far Nokia still has to come. Making a big play of naming strategy is something only Nokia would do. Other mobile makers would simply come up with a bizarre moniker (hello HTC ChaCha) and let the hardware do the talking. In this case, we’re left with everyone discussing something oblique and not of consequence, really, to the end user.

Changing names doesn’t change anything. Nokia’s phones are still playing catch up and the company still seems to want to have its cake and eat it, trailing Windows Phone but still releasing Symbian devices that simply can’t compare to Android and iOS.

This all just feels like the latest in an attempt to mask the serious issues that continue to engulf the embattled Finnish phone maker. Only a top-end phone can save it now. It doesn’t matter what it’s called, just as long as it can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone and Galaxy S2 and sell like nobody’s business. Everything else is just bluster.

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