Nokia has been hard at work behind the scenes to realign its business strategy in the US market to gain some traction with US carriers and consumers. After speaking to a Nokia rep today at CTIA Wireless, it's evident that they do indeed want to succeed here.The big change is going to come through Nokia's CDMA business. With its legal wranglings with Qualcomm an ongoing affair, Nokia has been struggling to find the right mix of products for the CDMA market in the US. It is now taking steps to alter its CDMA-centric landscape.
Nokia is building a new facility in San Diego (home of Qualcomm) to help it foster better relations with its CDMA partners. The essential business model for Nokia will be to design CDMA handsets, and then pass off the actual manufacturing to its partners such as Pantech. By letting other firms build the Nokia designed and branded handsets, it will offload CDMA technology licensing concerns to the manufacturer, which will help Nokia skirt its issues with Qualcomm. The end result will be Nokia quality design and build phones for the CDMA market in the US.
On the GSM side of the business, it will continue to build its phones as normal, but will work harder with US carriers to add or delete features as necessary to ensure distribution through the carriers.
Essentially, Nokia has realized that the carriers are the distribution channel in the US market. It will re-engineer its relationships with each of the carriers to bring new and exciting handsets to the US market.
On top of that, it is going to step up the availability of unlocked "world model" phones through legitimate sales channels and its own flagship stores. Even though unlocked phones will come at a price premium (due to lack of carrier subsidization) they will at least be available to US consumers.
This is good news. Nokia needs a presence here. It's uplifting to know they are doing something about it.