If you have been in this world for at least 15 years, I’m sure you know what is “Walkman” refers to. At that time, maybe you didn’t know who is Nokia.

But now, Nokia is the biggest handset player in the world, in terms of money, unit sold, and perhaps, unit’s varians. They are now entering new market, about audio player in handset.

Yes, every handset maker has decided to include this feature into their handset. But we will discuss only two brand. First, the Sony (Ericsson) with its Walkman phone. Second, the Nokia due to their position as largest handset manufacturer.

Handphone is getting more popular. The price is dropping high and you can expect anybody in this world to have at least one handphone in their pocket. The analyst has counted over 1 billion units sold at current time. The entry level (basic) phone may have basic functions like SMS, VGA camera, etc. But on medium or high-end level, people expect more feature. Some of them prefer a high resolution camera. But the camera trend is over now. The near future trend goes to audio player capability.

Let’s say you are on bus, on waiting room, or on class waiting for your next session. What will you do? Playing “Snake” or “Othello” with your phone is not an interesting way to burn up your boring time, but listening your favorite music perhaps will burn your waiting time faster (three music will cost you about 12-15 minutes, right?). So, this is a new trend in handphone world. The built-in audio player.

I don’t know why, but Sony still have big influence in electronic products. So when they join Ericsson (no matter who buys who), we may expect a new revolution, especially in their new released handphone. Sony is not good at cellular business. They have good handphone, but (again) don’t know why, they just didn’t make it. We will not discuss other aspect, except for their audio player built-in phone. Sony Ericsson decided to dig their luck with old brand name: “Walkman”. About 15 years ago (or so), Sony had brought “Walkman” trend. Every teenagers will be proud to bring “Walkman” on the road. At that time, “Walkman” was a portable cassette player. Now, “Walkman” is no longer using cassette. They are using digital formats (like MP3, AAC, or something similiar) to store the song. Of course, the name is changed a little bit into “Walkman Phone”. It’s no suprise if we can see the success of “Walkman Phone” will be a deja vu for Sony. They had made it with “Walkman” and they will re-write the history with “Walkman Phone”.


An old “Walkman”. I have it one, bought at Hong Kong about 14 years ago. I believe I had a big proud when using it. Especially with “Walkman”, “Sony”, and “Mega Bass” logo.

The biggest competitor of course will come from the biggest handset manufacturer: Nokia. They have the biggest production with massive product varians. They have no problem to add simple feature like audio player. But Nokia has no real experience in this field (the audio player). For the sake of simplicity, Nokia has no mature experience for entering audio player. But Nokia will not give up easily. As usual, they flood the market with lots of product and most of them have audio player capability. Of course they have few model which are their flagship for audio player handset. They also conduct a lot of marketing effort to gain market awareness of their audio player enabled handset. As example, few weeks ago, Nokia held a car audio competition with their handset as source. This competition is recorded in local record museum in my country (like a local version of Guinness Book).

Nokia’s flagship, the N91. It’s equipped with special button for navigating your audio tracks. As storage, Nokia uses a 4 GB mechanical hard disk inside the phone.

Let’s start by checking their strong and weak point. And we start from Nokia 🙂

Marketing, marketing, and marketing: Do I eat the brand? *thinking*… Of course!
Nokia has a lot of money to be spent in marketing and promotions (this is my own observation on my country). They don’t mind spending more money for marketing, though sometimes they don’t hit the target :). They are all good in marketing. They have been suceed in building people’s perception and build a very good image in word “Nokia”. They have good product (not all of them are good, just some or few to be precised). Nokia keeps flooding the market with dozens of types. Over 40 (or 50?) types of phones were released last year. This year will have about same amounts of phone released. In this segment (the audio player equipped phone), Nokia is working very hard. They work together with Sennheiser (the well known headphone brand) and Bose (the well known “expensive” audio brand) to promote their audio player equipped phones.

This is very strategic relationship, I believe. Sennheiser needs something than can boost their sales (and audio player, either it’s stand alone like iPod, or multifunction device like phone+audio player). If for your information, million of phones sold every month. If only few percents of them are audio player enabled and use 3rd party headphone like Sennheiser, can you imagine the increase of your sales (if you were Sennheiser).

How about Bose? Ugh, Bose is so far well known as a highly expensive, very sophisticated, and related as a symbol of prosperous people. By working together with Bose, surely Nokia will bring their phones into a new level of product. Nokia will enjoy a “level-up” for their phones’ status. For Bose, they have enjoyed their product as symbol (of prosperity) from the user/owner. For some people (who only know about brand, not about quality), they surely will choose Bose over another. Actually, in my opinion, Bose is not a bad product, but they are simply overpriced. But well, almost all “fashion-sophisticated-symbol status” product will be overpriced anyway 😉

Specifically outstanding: Don’t like it, don’t buy it! *go ahead and check others brand*
Sony Ericsson has different way in selling their phones. Sony is very confident that the brand “Walkman” is still alive and has their fans out there. Yes they are. So far, Sony is well know for its quality. Their audio quality (of their “Walkman”) was great. Now, at their phones, they add good quality audio playback to (with the same “Walkman” trademark). No doubt about this.

But Sony is still the old Sony. Ericsson doesn’t do much different for Sony. They both still maintain their arrogance (like ATRAC, MiniDisc, and now Memory Stick). They don’t do much about marketing. They believe that some people still on their back to use “Walkman”. Yes they are right, and yes they are wrong to. But one good thing is Sony=Japanese. Their products are good in terms of fancy design and build quality. And Sony surely has the technology to build a “near” perfect product. Later these days, Sony include the “CyberShot” feature on their latest phone. This phone is equipped with 3 Megapixels camera and lots of feature, nearly match their digital camera (that’s why it’s called “CyberShot”). Sony is simply ahead in terms of technology. They just need to re-use their design to be matched in the small phone form factor. They don’t have to build from zero to become a hero.

And the winner is…
Hard to decide the winner. Sometime, good man die young. They need more effort to make a perfect world.

Nokia has done a very good job in marketing. They have planted an outstanding brand image. The problem is sometime their product isn’t as good (as promoted). Don’t act now and think the risk later. Try to build a new, unique, and mature product. People are getting smart and smarter. Once they have been disappointed, they may have lost their trust on you. Spend more on your R&D, not just on your marketing division. Handle this thing before it’s too late (just a suggestion from me – nobody eh? ;))
On the other side, Sony Ericsson has good product, but very poor marketing effort (at least in my country). Good product with bad marketing is disaster (just like in developed countries which may have a lot of wasted genius children due to lack of prosperity and chance). Don’t expect people will know your product is good if you never inform it. Sony Ericsson has the potential. It’s only a matter how the people behind Sony Ericsson to optimize it. Again, this is only a suggestion from me – nobody 😉

Motorola said “I know what people want!”
This part is a little bit out of topic, but very interesting to be discussed. Do you know what is the most popular phone in the world? It’s not from Nokia or Sony Ericsson, but from Motorola – the RAZR. Funnily, it’s a very simple phone. It has no audio player capability (yes they do have, but limited in function), it has no Megapixel camera, it has a slow response in SMS, average battery life, etc), but it has a slim and unique design. It’s available in pink to (which will catch most chick). Motorola has just celebrated the 50th million RAZR sold. Can you believe that? The idea behind RAZR is actually very simple, but often missed by a too smart people. RAZR chases the other simple part of humanity. It’s very basic actually. Sometime we need something that is very unique. We can ignore the feature, we can ignore the brand, but we need just a simple, affordable phone, with special design. RAZR gives you the answer. Simple and neat, Motorola with its RAZR becomes the most popular phone (50 million is not a small number, right?). What do you think if Nokia or Sony Ericsson or somebody create a RAZR-like phone before Motorola? 😉
That’s why, men don’t listen and women don’t read map 🙂

And God is fair enough not to let men listen (and read map) or women read map (and listen) hehehe… Why? Because if someone can do all things together (if men/women can read map and can be a good listener), they will not need each other. It’s natural to have weakness, but don’t let the weakness screws you.