A Red Ocean for Nokia and Microsoft

Dan Frommer asks the key ‘why’ questions about Windows Mobile phones from Nokia:

  • Why should any person buy this instead of an iPhone or the preferred Android phone du jour?
  • Why should carriers favor Windows phones over Android or Apple phones, in either their in-store sales techniques and marketing?
  • Why should carriers or consumers favor Nokia Windows phones over similar Windows phones from Samsung, HTC, etc.?
  • Why should developers make apps for Windows or Nokia phones?

Windows Mobile phones are swimming a red ocean. So what is a ‘red ocean’ you ask? From Wikipedia:

Red Oceans are all the industries in existence today–the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cutthroat competition turns the ocean bloody. Hence, the term red oceans.
Red oceans are the opposite of blue oceans:

Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today–the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored.

Apple established the new smartphone paradigm (full touchscreen, no keyboard, multitouch UI) with the launch of the iPhone in 2007 that Google subsequently copied with Android. Apple’s modus operandi since Jobs returned has been about focusing on blue oceans. Untapped markets.

Now Microsoft and Nokia are entering the market with the Windows Phone 7 platform, a platform that introduces a unique approach to the user interface.

Despite their fresh approach, they’re still in a red ocean. Boundaries and known and rules are understood and as Frommer notes, they’re going to continue to have a hard time distinguishing themselves in this already crowded market.