Why Nokia Won’t Beat Apple’s iPhone

We’ve been knocked in the past for being too hard on Apple’s iPhone. We think that criticism is misguided — we simply think that Steve Jobs’ one-third price cut, two months after the phone’s launch, indicates that demand was underwhelming. Regardless, perhaps this prediction will cheer up Apple fans: We’re confident that Nokia’s attempt to take on the iPhone will fall flat on its face.

Why? Because last week Nokia launched an ad campaign that knocks Apple for selling a “locked” phone  — see photo of a set of New York sidewalk posters below. We don’t have strong feelings about whether Apple made a mistake here or not. But we do know trying to tackle Apple products by pointing out their supposed flaws is a non-starter. Case studies after the jump.


Photo from Reddit, via Engadget

Nokia, you see, isn’t the first company to try to take on the Apple juggernaut by insulting its products or consumers. Now, we realise that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, etc. But sometimes it’s a pretty good indicator.


Via ArsTechnicaHere’s an image, via ArsTechnica, from SanDisk’s “iDon’t” campaign for its Sansa players from spring 2006. The conceptual flaw — thinking that iPods are equivalent to a fashion accessory, like a trucker’s cap. People certainly like the way Apple products look, and some probably do think that owning them grants them admission to a secret club. But most consumers buy Apple products because they work well. SanDisk, to its credit, seems to have figured this out: Its iDon’t link now takes surfers to a “Lil’ Monsta'” site promoting the same player.


Via GearcritechAnd here’s the branding, via Gearcritech, for RealNetworks’ Freedom of Choice campaign from 2004. Real was promoting its short-lived Harmony technology, which temporarily allowed it to sell music from its Rhapsody store that would work with Apple’s iTunes and iPods. Real actually saw a nice spike in sales from the campaign, but we think it had little to do with Harmony and iPod compatiblity — instead we’re sure that Real’s decision to slash download prices to 49 cents was the key driver here. Again, we think the anti-“locking” campaign addresses a problem that most consumers don’t know they have. Since they either buy music from iTunes or acquire it for free, they don’t know that iPods have compatibility problems — no matter how loudly competitors tell them they do.