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Smartphone innovation coming from America

Paul Nesbitt

Nokia CEO says European handset vendors have fallen behind US companies in the smartphone market. And he’s right.

Takling to analysts Kallasvuo said: ‘There is no doubt the center of mobile innovation has shifted from Europe to Silicon Valley.’

However, Kallasvuo said that Nokia had responded by appointing over 3,000 engineers to work in North America. ‘We are working to tap into this innovation,’ he said.

Nokia was a follower rather than a leader in many of the recent smartphone innovations. For example it was Apple, which led with multitouch and selling apps online, and BlackBerry that trailblazed push emails.

Even troubled Motorola has bettered Nokia over the last few years with a series of more exciting industrial designs with products like the Razr and the Droid.

Nokia’s Symbian OS looks old fashioned compared to Android and the iPhone, and Nokia’s recent announcement of a new Linux-based smartphone OS, MeeGo, together with Intel has left it with a confused message for Symbian. Some wags have already dubbed it 'MeToo', on the basis that’s just another Linux-based offering.

Nokia is still the world’s leading handset maker by far, and it still retains top spot even in the global smartphone market despite all the attention garnered by products like the iPhone.

According to Gartner, Nokia sold 440.9 million mobile phones during 2009, making it far and away the largest handset maker. By contrast, Apple sold 25 million iPhones.

Nonetheless all the momentum in the smartphone market is coming from North America led by Apple, RIM, and Google with the Android platform.

Even Microsoft, whose Windows Mobile OS has languished in recent years, recently signaled a bounceback, with impressive demos of its forthcoming Windows Phone 7 at the recent World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

‘There has long been a steady stream of North American firms attacking Nokia and they are likely to encourage others, such as Amazon, to follow suit,’ said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics. ‘The intensity of competition can really only get tougher.’



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