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Now, Nokia, what about the hardware?

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It's the hardware, stupid

Nokia has no choice but to start afresh - takes too long - or adopt Android and/or Windows Phone. Nokia rightly realises Android is plunging ever more downmarket, as hardware makers pursue volume over value. Android will become the Windows of the phone world: a commodity market benefitting the operating system's developer far more than those who license and use it.

And here's Microsoft, as motivated to revive a sagging mobile presence as Nokia is, and entering with a platform that is actually generating positive feedback.

Palm tried and failed to reverse its decline by supporting Windows Mobile, but this time Nokia is taking a fresh product that has the consumer buzz Symbian has largely failed to acquire, and which Windows Mobile never had, which is why Sony Ericsson's WinMo strategy was equally wrong-headed. Ditto Motorola's pre-Android efforts.

But the consumer smartphone market is not solely about software. Yes, Nokia needs to adopt an engaging new platform, but its also needs so reinvent its approach to how its hardware looks. Far too many, if not all, of its smartphones, even its most recent ones, have seemed like clunky, decade-old mobiles when sat alongside the likes of HTC handsets, let alone Apple ones.

This is an issue for all of the old-school phone giants, not just Nokia. Apple changed the smartphone's design language, and its most major competitors keep speaking the old tongue.

It doesn't matter how flash Nokia's new operating system is, consumers make their first bite with their eyes. If your phones look weak on the shelf, punters will not buy them. It took Samsung and LG a long time to figure this one out, but they got it in end. Nokia, so far as today's announcements go, has yet to show it has also learned the lesson. ®

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