Nokia Needs American Friends

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Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) needs to find some new friends.

The Finnish mobile phone giant's latest, greatest N900 smartphone is available to American consumers today. It is a very impressive device with every bell and whistle you can think of:

  • Mozilla-based Web browser with full support for Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) Flash content, including YouTube videos and most of the games on Facebook.
  • Five-megapixel camera with autofocus and the same top-notch Carl Zeiss optics you might find in a stand-alone camera from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) .
  • A high-performance Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) processor based on the latest technology from ARM Holdings, capable of running advanced applications without slowing the phone down.

All of this adds up to a serious piece of hardware, running Nokia's in-house version of the Linux operating system. In fact, it's a decent rundown of things the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone can't or won't do today, to the consternation of some users.

OK, so Nokia's app store is nowhere near as impressive as the gold standard set by Apple, but the phone itself might make up for it in many cases. After all, TechCrunch calls the N900's Internet experience "the best browsing experience of any smartphone on the market today (yes, including the iPhone)."

So what's the problem? Like I said, Nokia needs to make friends in America. There are no discounted or subsidized N900 handsets available through any of the service providers, so you have to buy the network-agnostic phone at the full $650 retail price and then find a compatible service plan from a compatible network like AT&T (NYSE: T  ) Wireless or T-Mobile.

Nokia sells more mobile phones than anybody else in the world, and this dominance includes the smartphone segment. Yet the company's footprint in the American market is vanishingly small. If Nokia has any desire to make it big over here, it had better work out some distribution deals with one of the big boys, like AT&T or Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) . The N900 might be a better handset than the iPhone 3GS -- but do you know anyone who would pay three times the iPhone price to get it?

I sure don't. Nokia makes fine devices, but it needs a better marketing plan. Feel free to offer the company some advice in the comments box below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple and Adobe Systems are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2009, at 7:01 PM, hary536 wrote:

    Yes, i agree that they need American friends.

    But if you think deeper than unlocked phone is better than locked subsidized phone. N900's unlocked price is cheaper than non-subsidized price of 32GB iphone 3GS.

    With unlocked phone, you can use any carrier anytime you want, no need to get locked into for 2 yr contract. you can switch plans if you want if new rates come up in 2 yrs. Tmobile has cheaper unlimited plans if you buy your own unlocked phone.

    Our American customers need to understand the advantages of buying unlocked phone and not get manipulated by our greedy carriers. More than half of the world uses unlocked phones.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2009, at 8:18 PM, IntegrityWatch wrote:

    Nokia cannot make American friends, the company is too unethical. They allow executives in their HRD to commit marriage fraud to work in the U.S., so how could they ever be reputable enough to partner with American firms?

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2009, at 3:36 AM, hary536 wrote:


    Thats a pretty darn statement and considering you registered just today tells something.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2009, at 11:01 AM, marcin97 wrote:


    Geee like AMERICAN firms do everything legitimately. Wooohooo !!!

    Your comment is soooo lame.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2009, at 7:47 PM, IntegrityWatch wrote:

    Ethics will always supercede corporate power. Nokia's ethics board is a lie, a paper tiger. It's fruitlessness is widely known in the industry, and outside. Nokia will never succeed in distribution in the Americas, no matter what marketing plan it has.

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