Four factors will determine which competitors in the wireless race pull ahead of the pack when the economic downturn smooths out, says Nokia’s senior executive of the Americas.
The winning companies will have a good product, good organization and a good logistical system which provides control over inventories, Kari-Pekka (KP) Wilska said in Calgary last week.
Flexibility will also be a key to success, Pekka said during the Alberta-Finland Wireless Symposium 2001, a gathering of executives from some of the world’s leading wireless companies.
Corporate executives met to share information and to address the challenges of the slump in the technology sector. Business Edge was a media sponsor of the event.
|The Nokia 9010 Communicator is an example of the newest technology.|
Nokia, one of the industry’s stars, confirmed the day before the Calgary event that its General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) programs are on track and that it also expects to slide into third-generation technology on schedule.
“As a natural evolution of the 2G and 2.5G technologies, 3G will further enhance the mass market proliferation of mobile services. For the consumer, this transition will be a seamless process, becoming visible in the rising quality of services,” said Matti Alahuhta, president of Nokia mobile phones in a speech delivered in New York.
“Much of what we envisage of the 3G services and applications is already possible today with the Nokia 9210 Communicator, which we are delivering at full capacity,” he said.
“But similar features are rapidly cascading to several other product categories. For example, web access is quickly becoming a standard feature in mobile phones. We estimated the market volume of browser phones to be over 200 million this year, while 90 per cent of all phones sold in 2005 will be web-enabled.”
Cellphones have become part of our lives, Wilska told the Calgary symposium, citing a recent Texas study in which 89 per cent of the respondents said they would go back for their phone if they had left it behind and were five minutes or less away.
Eighty per cent said they would return if they were 10 minutes or less away. Wilska said he was stunned by the results and couldn’t imagine the same numbers returning for a forgotten watch.
Just as first- and second-generation wireless technology allowed us to phone people rather than places, third-generation technology will do the same for the Internet, predicted Wilska. “It will be a big change in our culture.”
Al Gilchrist, president of Nokia products in Canada, told the symposium that research and development – and the ability to “best guess” the market — are also crucial to maintaining an edge.
About 40 per cent of Nokia’s workforce is either directly in R&D, or touching on it. “That’s what it takes to keep ahead,” he said.
However, an understanding of the marketplace is also critical, said Gillespie, pointing to the case of VCR technologies Betamax and VHS. The former died a sudden death, taking its place among the dire examples of technology history. Part of understanding the market is to get into the mind of the consumer. People like to flaunt their cellphones, says Wilska, so it has been important for Nokia to make sure they are easy to use and in attractive colours.
“In a segmented market, only those who master the product category game can remain major players,” said Wilska.