Today Nokia announced the launch of Nokia Browser 2.0 for its S40 handset range. Among Nokia Browser 2.0 features are:
- Cloud-based adaptation, compression and optimization of internet content to enable more efficient and cost effective browsing experience of users. This capability is clearly the result of its March 2010 acquisition of Novarra.
- The availability of a catalogue of web applications, consisting of 10,000 apps.
- A user friendly browsing experience, including the ability to download web content to the phone or memory card for storage.
Can Nokia’s release of Nokia Brower 2.0 alleviate pressure and gain market share in the entry level device segment where it is facing mounting pressure?
Clearly, Nokia’s cost efficient and faster browsing message will resonate with price sensitive segments with a hunger for accessing the internet. Strategy Analytics predicts the number of cellular users accessing the internet on their mobile phones in developing cellular markets like Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and Mexico to reach 1.4B by 2017. Furthermore, operators in those markets yet to implement browsing content adaptation in their networks (from vendors such as Openwave (now Openwave Mobility) and Infogin) will view the new browser as more network friendly, which may increase operator demand for S40 handsets. Certainly, operators like RIM’s data-compression technology and this has helped the smartphone vendor to gain traction in markets like Indonesia and South Africa and meeting the needs of operators certainly ties in with Nokia's broader strategy to cosy up to operators. Beyond browsing the Web Apps catalogue (although currently limited in size to 10,000 apps) goes beyond basic internet access and adds further value to the Nokia Browser 2.0 proposition.
Although these are clearly positive moves and enhance the attractiveness of S40 for operators and customers, I don’t expect the latest announcement to relive Nokia’s woes in this segment for the following reasons:
· Competition: Device independent solutions are already available in network constrained markets:
- Opera Mini performs similar cloud based optimization of internet content to Nokia Browser 2.0. Opera Mini has an active monthly base of 160m users globally and traction through operator partners in many emerging markets. E.g. Across its Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region Vodafone claims almost 11m Opera Mini users.
- Network-based content adaptation solutions enable operators to deliver browsing efficiencies across all handsets. Not all operators have added internet content optimization into their networks but Strategy Analytics expects the larger tier operators to almost certainly will have.
User experience: The jury remains out Nokia’s claims that its browsing interface is significantly improved and is more intuitive. While it may be the case that, the browsing experience and overall device user experience needs to be comparable to low priced Android based competitors.