Apple and Google Have Nokia and RIM Against the Wall

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Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) have received a lot of dubious attention recently. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are so clearly the kings of the mountain – combined they represent 85.6 percent of the United States mobile platform market – that the underdogs seem uninspiring. RIM, maker of the infamous BlackBerry, represents a dwindling 9.5 percent of the platform market. Shares of Nokia have plummeted over 44 percent this year to date. Their futures are anything but certain.

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Nokia held its annual conference on September 5 and 6 where it announced the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820. The phones are slated for release in November, arriving in the full wake of the iPhone 5. The Lumia 920 and 820 are a joint effort with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and the new phones will run on the Windows Phone 8 platform. Both companies have capital at their disposal, a history of success, and poor growth numbers. With their powers combined, these companies are facing a “make it or break it” moment: either innovate, and take market share, or become fossils.

Nokia has seen some good news coming out of the iPhone 5 release. Apple’s take on maps didn’t land very well with consumers. Navigation services, increasingly important to consumers, are still largely controlled by Google Maps, but Nokia’s acquisition of Navteq four years ago put it in a good spot. Through Navteq, Nokia controls the underlying mapping information, and said on its blog, “Unlike our competitors, which are financing their location assets with advertising or licensing mapping content from third parties, we completely own, build and distribute mapping content, platform and apps.” Microsoft’s Bing Maps uses the Navteq platform.

While Nokia will be making waves soon, RIM won’t release its BlackBerry 10 until January of 2013. The Canadian company, once at the top of the smartphone world, tripped over the original iPhone launch in 2007 and has never really recovered. RIM has notoriously underestimated Apple, such a late entry into the market doesn’t bode well. RIM has noted that its future rests with enterprise customers. The company will have a new version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server to ship with the BlackBerry 10, and will support a single web console for many BlackBerry IT tools. If RIM can court big business, then it has a long-term position in this game.

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