Can Nokia really gerrit with Series 40?[Opinions from different writers]

Series 40 phones
Series 40 phones

We usually have offline and online discussions on impacts of things happening in the ICT world, most of these go undocumented and fade away coz they are either verbal or private chat communications. We recently had a meet and decided we will discuss the impact of Nokia Series 40 phones on the general market, several factors considered, and these are the views of, Robert Kunga(Mwirigi), Kennedy Kachwanya and me.

The Series 40 experience

Martin Gicheru
Since Nokia decided to move from Symbian to Windows, there has been mixed reactions from all corners, as until this week, Nokia hadnt launched Windows phone in Africa, so their only new product in the market was the new Series 40 phones and the Nokia N9(story of another day). So there would not be much focus on the Nokia smartphones in this region, we talked alot about Nokia E6 and others last year.

The Series 40 devices have a feel almost like that of a smartphone, giving many of the features that the average users will want from a phone. These are voice, social networks, mail, and productivity/gaming apps. This also comes with an experience that is easy to learn and get accustomed to. Series 40 devices got the much needed qwerty feel to make keyboard typing faster as seen in Nokia C3 and X3, some like Nokia C3-02 have the touch and type feature and even though the screen is resistive, it offers users down the food chain a feel like they are getting some cake.
The Nokia Series 40 browser is also another feature that makes series 40 phones worth the purchase, it renders the pages well while assisting the user minimize data usage.

Nokia S40 allows for a great deal of customization (Themes), it also manages data usage better than Android
S40 devices have superb battery life and are well built (durable/good re-sale value, important when trading up to a new device)
I expected the real impact of the IDEOS would be its price point second-hand.
I thought that young people could have access to an Android device for Shs.5,000/= or less, that was what I imagined would be disruptive, but it seems the IDEOS just isn’t durable.
I seriously doubt it can survive a 3 year cycle. S40 phones on the other hand change hands very often Parent -> Child, Sibling -> Sibling all the while maintaining usability


What i have learned about the phone experience is, it is all about each individual and the exposure. Nokia moved from Symbian to Windows phone in order to try to recapture the smartphone market. That simply tell you that Symbian is finished clearly communicated with the action of  Nokia.

But that aside, in Kenya the buzz about the smartphones, whether the OS is Android, Windows or iOS is still limited to the techies and bloggers. Majority of people still look at the physical side of the phone as opposed to the software and the so called user experience. Recently i discussed with someone who is not a techie about the N8 and on his view, the phone is the best he has ever seen based on its shape, the feel, and the camera. From there, I took time to carry out a random survey on my friends, specifically on what type of phone they would like to have. The finding was, 70% of them just wanted a good phone based on the brand name, physical look.. 30% talked of the OS as a factor.

Series 40 still have some future in Kenya and Africa generally but we are almost at the point where people are about to make one big switch from one type of technology to another. The bloggers and developers are leading the charge in that direction and people are listening..just a matter of time.

The next billion?

Martin Gicheru
When Nokia announced that Series 40 is for the next billion, one is tempted to forget that the lifetime of a phone is just about 3 years, some have even less. So most users will switch their phones even before this period expires. So what are people asking?
What next after that Billion? Good question. Ecosystems that are recently showing success are those that show the users that there is continuity. Picture like what happened to the Nokia N9, when developers heard that the meego project will be dropped by Nokia they run away in their droves. Such a promising operating system, is dying. Users/customers follow suit. That has been the reason for the success of Apple and Android products.
Nokia just yesterday announced sale of their 1.5 billionth phone, so the sales are good, plus the new series 40 devices the Nokia Asha 303, 300, 201 and 200 have the sleek physical design and fancy colours.
Nokia recently purchased a mobile OS company Smarterphone, and there’s quite a handfold of thoughts where this fits in. What would be its impact to Series 40?

– Nokia made a commitment to ship 150 million more symbian devices, so there is a clear commitment to the platform, remember those are new devices, existing devices are a very large pool of potential users
– When a person upgrades, they’ll upgrade “Within the family”, Web Apps are reverse compatible, they’ll work on the older devices as well
I think phones at that level only need to be “Smart enough” , while it is true that S40 doesn’t support multi-tasking, the first iPhone didn’t either, but that device changed the way we look at mobile phones.


That is basically tagline or rallying call as opposed to the end point for Nokia.. And i don’t think they will stop the next billion thing even if everyone  move to Windows

The Android factor

Martin Gicheru
Ofcourse the entry of Android to the cheaper phone category as seen in Ideos U8150 entry to the market at a subsidized price of $100 had a huge impact of Series 40 in the Kenyan market. Ideos based on android had a huge uptake, going to 130,000 sales as of the recent Safaricom announcement. That was a Series 40 market mainly.
Nokia might have salvaged something by upping the Series 40 feel but the damage had already been done.

Not necessarily, the Android surge has educated Kenyan users, They now demand more from their phones, more functionality than just calling and sending text messages, the “Android Revolution” is in actual fact the “App Revolution”
The real question for me is “Can the Nokia Store meet this demand?”
I think they can, Nokia has invested in local Apps on two key fronts, development and promotion.

With the success of Ideos phone in Kenya, and the way Samsung Galaxy Mini is doing Android has became a big factor in challenging Nokia dominance in Kenya. At the moment Nokia have to deal with the fact that there is a real smartphone in the name of  Ideos going for around Ksh.8K. If the price use to be the selling point, that will no longer be the case

Series 40 apps

Martin Gicheru
According to Nokia, the bulk of Nokia store apps are Series 40 apps, even thought the downloads numbers tend to lie on the Symbian^3 phones, mostly Nokia N8. So the apps, even though there is a long way to go to make the user have an almost complete feel of sufficiency. But there are no real details on what happens once Nokia achieves their target next billion phone sales. Developers uncertainty.

App numbers are growing, increased focus on Web Apps Specifically for S40 including interesting tools like Location APIs (e.g. Foursquare for S40)

Apps is not a factor, people are not making money on ovi store, so to me it is not helping in any way.

Battery Life

Martin Gicheru
A very huge number of people still dont care about the smartphone feel but a phone that delivers'(battery, calls, text, mail, games). Example the very busy shopkeeper, driver, older generation, etc. Guys who cannot afford to go on less than one charging process a day atleast. This is a huge market that would buy Series 40 devices for the reliability in terms of battery life and would impact the continuity of Series 40 sales.
Robert Kunga
I concur, Nokias have traditionally had great battery life, but this is being matched at the low end by Samsung, this means this is fading as a source of competitive advantage. I’m very keen to see how the Asha range manages power now that they have larger,  capacitive touch screens and more powerful processors


The real selling point for Series 40 especially in Africa.


Martin Gicheru
Social media and productivity apps are very important in the general impression they create to the users. A number of them wont go to the store to search for apps to boost this. So the out of the box impression could be upped. Like say have the prize social clients preinstalled. An example is Snaptu that was bought by facebook and some features stripped off. Most Series 40 users relied on this one mainly to access twitter(It provides a good UI and awesome features for the apps on it, but some were stripped in an update by facebook), and once that feature was taken off we have many users wondering what comes close.
Tweeties is a new app that gives users a feel like that of the official twitter app on Android, Windows, iOS and Blackberry, if this were available out of the box-and more development added to it-to beat that absense this would be a huge plus to S40.
Another app is fMobi which is a symbian^3 premium app.

Users also need to know what the impact of the Smarterphone acquisition has on the future of Series 40.

They don’t need to buy the app if its freely available, they can bundle the app and provide an enhanced out-of-box experience, e.g. Angry Birds & WhatsApp on the Asha 300/303 or they can promote it on the app store i.e. make it available on the splash page of the Nokia Browser / Nokia Store

To me Series 40 time is over, it is the past, but Nokia can not just walk away after making 1.5 billion sales …If you are going to buy a phone today, buy a smartphone. If you are a fan of Nokia wait for Lumia 710 or Lumia 800 to be launched in Kenya. That will be at the middle of the year

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Martin is the Managing Editor at Techweez, passionate about personal tech and telling stories of consumer experiences. Talk to me: [email protected]