A few decades ago, the mobile phone industry was virtually owned by Motorola and Nokia. But things have changed since then, leaving the two former giants struggling to stay relevant in today’s highly competitive market.
As of this writing, neither of these have appeared in the top 5 smartphone vendors in the world. Instead, companies like Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Huawei, and Vivo have taken over.
There are various reasons for the failure of these two companies to live up to their previous standards, among which is the slow shift towards innovation and not showing any signs of evolving with the new world.
There is no doubt that Nokia and Moto phones are still well built, just as they once were. The semi-off-the-shelf software approach has always been a welcome idea among a section of die-hard Android users.
But what remains glaring and surprisingly common among Nokia and Motorola smartphones is bad software updates and after-sales support.
Not only do you get one of the shortest windows of software support with these two brands, but you can also deal with a very slow update rollout. But for this piece, let’s focus more on Nokia.
Today, Nokia is undoubtedly a shadow of its glorious past. Some might argue that Nokia is, in fact, doing better today than it was a decade ago. And I agree with you, because numbers rarely lie.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Nokia Mobile tripled smartphone shipments in the United States and recorded strong growth in total smartphone shipments, at least in five regions around the world.
In the next quarter, Nokia smartphones ranked third in terms of market share in the UK due to the explosive growth in market share in the country of 200%. This was an indication that Nokia Mobile was doing well.
In the second quarter of 2022, IDC and Strategy Analytics revealed that Nokia Mobile smartphone shipments tripled in the US, placing it among the top 5 smartphone brands in the country.
Unrelenting, the latest report from Strategy Analytics now claims that Nokia Mobile is the fourth leading smartphone vendor in Western Europe. Growth was also recorded in North, Central and Latin America.
Apparently, Nokia’s performance in the market is highly dependent on the launch of new smartphones as well as having a wide variety of devices to choose from.
While this recent market growth means business is good in the Nokia camp. There is still a lot of work to be done on the software front if Nokia is to maintain its current growth trajectory.
As mentioned earlier, Nokia still makes some pretty good devices. But we all know that hardware is only as good as the software that runs on it. And this is where Nokia falls short.
Having been one of the quickest Android OS updates to roll out due to the clean, near-stock version that powers Nokia phones, the company is now living in its own shadow.
Arguably, Nokia’s Android One devices were meant to be Google Pixel replacements in markets where the latter is not sold. They promise quick updates, a clean user interface, and a smooth experience.
But this turned out to be the opposite. As I write this, for example, Nokia is still rolling out the Android 12 update to its devices, with a number of them still queuing up to bag the update. ICYMI, it’s December already, and Nokia’s Android 13 update is still nowhere to be found.
Even with this massive delay, HMD Global was unable to roll out a bug-free Android 12 update. A large number of pressing issues have frustrated the owners of various Nokia devices after installing the operating system.
But given how slow Nokia updates have become coupled with poor customer support, those affected are often in the dark as to if and when these issues will be addressed.
It gets even more frustrating when you know that your Nokia device won’t receive the same software support term as a similarly priced or even cheaper device from Samsung, OnePlus, or Google.
But even more infuriating is the fact that once the short window of software support ends, you can’t even unlock the bootloader and install a custom ROM of your choice.
The legendary Redmi Note 4 was launched almost 6 years ago. (crazy, ik). Now running Android 13, which is 7 Android versions ahead of what was launched! All thanks to the custom ROM 🔥. Community support is a good thing for Xiaomi phones, especially for the Note series.
Nokia phones have some of the worst after sales support. What the company does best is publish the source codes, which are not useful with a locked bootloader.
The beauty of having an easy to unlock bootloader is that you can switch to a custom ROM whenever you feel your stock ROM is buggy or isn’t getting the attention it deserves from the vendor.
Unfortunately, HMD Global has excelled at denying Nokia owners this possibility, and it could come at a huge cost to the company.
Nokia is still pushing Android 12 updates, with not a single device receiving Android 13. On the contrary, other vendors have pushed Android 13 to multiple devices, and Google will soon start testing Android 14 developer preview.
If anything, Nokia is falling further and further behind. And for a company that came back to the fore just a few years ago on the premise of providing clean Android with fast updates, it looks like Nokia may not maintain its current growth trajectory for long.
Considering the recent market performance, it would be a shame if poor software updates and after-sales support ended up as major reasons that could put the company out of business again.
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