With 260,000 phones being sold daily, someone out there is still buying Nokia phones. But who? And more importantly, why? Is it familiarity? Affordability? A belief that nothing else available is as good—or as suitable—for them?
I was elected to write this post because I live in the UK—the land-mass on the periphery of Nokia's dominance. Funny thing is, I don't think I personally know a single person who uses the Finnish company's phones. Sure, I know people who used to use them—and happily—but those years are long gone.
Especially in England, many of our first phones were Nokia. Mine, back in 2002, was an 8310. I adored it for its small size and legion of color options. My next phone was the Motorola RAZR; I remember fumbling with the new OS and button lay-out at first. Is it fear of the unfamiliar that's stopping this invisible hoard from trying new phones with different OSes? If so, why is it mostly Europeans and Asians who seem to have a problem adopting a new OS?
Maybe some people just don't care what phone they use. Believe me, they exist. Not everyone wants to tweet, send photos to their friends, or listen to music. Some people just need to text and call—and anyone who remembers call quality on a Nokia will know the Finns excel there.
When asking my Twitter followers if any of them still use Nokia phones—and why—affordability was unsurprisingly one of the first points to be raised. In Europe, where most phones are free up-front on contract, it's the monthly payments which are of issue. Most phones cost £30 ($46) a month in the UK, and nowadays contracts are between 18 and 24 months long.
Nokia phones tend, on the whole, to be pretty cheap. Several networks sell phones like the 5230 and E63 for as little as £13 ($20) a month. These are nice phones! Sure, they're a little old, but they were flagships when they came out. Some of the models are pricier, at around £30, but generally, Nokia's (slightly less intelligent) smartphones are a lot cheaper than the iPhone and the assorted Android and BlackBerry models.
Pay As You Go, as you'd expect, is even cheaper. In Asian countries, particularly India, a $300 phone is not an option. Phones such as the C1 and C2, with dual-SIM support, enable people to stay connected, for less. They may not be able to update their Facebook statuses, but that's not why they need a phone.
Nokias are very popular with the gray-haired set as well, a market that's becoming increasingly more lucrative. There are more old people now, they've got the money, and they want something that just works straight out of the box. Grandchildren can offer help all they want, but I know from setting up my oldies with phones, most of the time they just had them switched off, ready in case of emergency.
So tell me, readers—why do you choose to use a Nokia phone? Or, why does your girlfriend, your Dad, or your next-door neighbor? When presented with so much choice nowadays—so many form-factors, OSes, colors!—why is Nokia still only "big in Europe?"