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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

April 4, 2007 at 12:02 PM

Role reversal: Nokia’s at the top

Check this out. About a year ago, I went to Helsinki and visited Nokia, the largest cell phone maker in the world. I talked to them about how they thought their strategy went wrong in the U.S., and left them trailing to Motorola here.

Not even 365 days later, the world is turned upside down.

Motorola is transitioning its executive team, CEO Ed Zander backed out of speaking at CTIA last week, and Carl Icahn is trying to get on the company’s board through a proxy battle. And now, Mark Anderson, a local hedge fund portfolio manager and tech visionary, said in his most recent newsletter that Nokia’s at the top of its game.

Recently, he took the trek to Helsinki to talk to the Finns about what’s hot and what’s not.

He came up with this conclusion:

“Right in the midst of this seeming disaster, Nokia “got it,” understanding that the middle doesn’t take you anywhere. Rather, the answer was to go after emerging markets with specialized designs, and after high-end markets (including the “smartphone” market). What may only have been obvious in retrospect: shoot high, and let production efficiencies drive pricing down. Never shoot medium.

The result was a huge resurgence for Nokia, as emerging nations (led by China and India) took up new phones, while developed country users finally found an appetite for Net phones, remote email, MS apps (perhaps), and mobile TV.

Bingo. This ought to serve as a marketing lesson for others attempting to serve multiple global segments: the High/Low strategy beats the middle muddle: it’s a double focus, instead of no focus.”

This is on the mark. Motorola is getting hammered for shooting medium — appealing to the middle masses, while neglecting that the upper-tier market and the super low-end market are much bigger opportunities.

For more information on Anderson’s goings-on while he was visiting Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland, check out this blog. The blog is written by Stephen Johnston, a London-based Nokia employee who works on Internet strategy, future trends and innovation. He’s also in charge of organizing informal “speaker series” sessions, in which Anderson participated.

He included his notes from the session and a video.

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