Nokia Closing Two US Flagship Stores, To Focus On Carrier Sales

My, oh, my. What a difference a few years makes in the smartphone market. Nokia has long since been the dominant cellphone provider the world over, holding well over 40% of the overall market share in terms of mobile phone sales. But with companies such as RIM (who makes the BlackBerry), HTC (responsible for the Hero and myTouch 3G), Motorola (with its DROID) and Apple (no explanation needed) joining the fray, things are vastly different now. Nokia has also struggled with landing carrier partnerships in America, which are generally a necessity for a phone to become a really hot seller. Americans are trained to expect relatively cheap phones thanks to the 2-year contracts that they are tied to, whereas many folks in Europe simply pay full price for their phones and pick whatever carrier they want. Both schemes have their pros and cons, but for Nokia, it has been tough to sell $600 smartphones (unlocked and off-contract) in the US, where people fully expect phones to be $199 or less regardless of the commitment associated with it.

To that end, the company has decided to shut down its two flagship retail locations in America. The news comes just days after hearing that its London store would also be closing, and Nokia is suggesting that the closings are part of a larger reorganization going on. As of now, Nokia is trying to figure out how to regain the market share that it has lost, and moreover, how to really gain ahead of its rivals moving forward. Evidently, it has decided that it doesn't need retail stores in Chicago and New York in order to do so. Some folks are suggesting that the stores are simply too costly to operate compared to the sales they make, but some argue that these stores were a visual for the company that will now vanish. Basically, their store was a billboard, and with that gone, fewer people will stop and really think about owning a Nokia handset.

Nokia is also considering (at least purportedly) dealing more with US carriers. In other words, you'll see more Nokia phones available for less on contract via AT&T, T-Mobile and the rest of the gang. We suppose it's a move that Nokia had to make to be important in America. In Europe, people have no problems shopping for phones alone, but it's a different world here. Let us ask you: would you rather pay more up front for a phone if you didn't have to be tied to a carrier? Or do you adore the up-front discounts?