Life After Comes With Music: Thoughts And Reflections On Nokia’s Music Product Strategy

At Nokia World, I’ve had the opportunity to get some detailed updates on Nokia’s music product strategy but also to observe some changes in its positioning within Nokia’s broader strategy. Nokia has made commendable progress, establishing the largest global footprint of any digital music retailer and bringing a much-needed focus to emerging markets. But it also comes across as a lower priority for Nokia this year. At last year’s Nokia World, music was at the centre of everything, from the CEO’s keynote through to background images on presentation slides. Of course the intense level of expansion and investment of 2009 couldn’t be sustained and wasn’t ever intended to be. But music no longer occupies centre stage at Nokia; instead it sits as one among equals in the suite of Ovi services.

But there are some impressive milestones:

  • Ovi Music live in 38 markets.
  • Ovi Music Unlimited (more on that in a moment) live in 33 markets.
  • #2 OTA service in Europe (though of course volumes will benefit heavily from the fact Comes with Mu….sorry…Ovi Music Unlimited users can download unlimited numbers of track without paying incrementally, thus boosting volumes).
  • Ovi Music is now the #1 source of digital music revenue in Russia, India, Finland, and South Africa. In these admittedly challenged markets, Nokia has become the main digital music game in town.
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Nokia's Transformation Journey

I am attending Nokia World in London. For those of you not familiar with this event, that’s usually the conference where Nokia shares its vision and strategy, announces new products and services, and demonstrates its latest innovation. This is also an interesting opportunity to hear thought leaders share their vision of the mobile industry (this year, Sir Tim Berners-Lee). See the agenda here.

The 2010 edition is already unique in Nokia’s history due to the recent appointment of Stephen Elop as the new CEO and yesterday’s resignation of Anssi Vanjoki, currently EVP of Nokia's Mobile Solutions unit. Needless to say there is lots of speculation about Nokia’s future. Let me wrap up some thoughts:

  • It’s precisely all about organizational and cultural issues. No one should be surprised to see other departures as well as the arrival of new executives close to the newly appointed CEO. Nokia’s real challenge is to make sure these changes are implemented quickly enough -- without totally disrupting existing processes -- to keep pace with innovation. The simple fact that Nokia appointed a non-Finnish CEO, coming from the US and from Microsoft and the software industry, is another acknowledgment that Silicon Valley has become the new mobile innovation hub. Nokia’s cultural heritage is precisely to constantly reinvent itself. Tectonic shifts are shaking up the traditional mobile ecosystem, and Nokia needs to be much more agile to compete with the likes of Google and Apple.
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