During the iPad presentation, I was rather perplexed by Apple’s claim to be the largest mobile device company in the world. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one scratching his head, as Nokia itself, and even the Financial Times, is calling Apple out on its juggling with figures and definitions.
As I was following the numerous live text/photo streams of Apple’s event earlier this week, one claim in particular had me scratching my head. Steve Jobs claimed that Apple was now the largest mobile device company in the world; bigger than Sony, Samsung, and even Nokia. The catch here was that Apple had to include its laptop sales to get there.
In a post on Nokia’s company blog titled “A Fruit Confused?”, Nokia’s Mark Squires attempts to set the record straight. He says that Apple is not using a “generally accepted and stable definition of mobile devices” (i.e., one that doesn’t include laptops), and because of that, the comparison between the two companies isn’t fair. If you do use what is, according to him, that accepted definition, Nokia is still bigger than Apple: Nokia’s devices and services business brought in â‚¬8.18 billion from October through December, while Apple did â‚¬7.25 billion.
Squires then goes on to explain that if you were to use the “more common measure”, as he calls it, the difference is even clearer. “By that comparison, Nokia has been the largest mobile devices company in the world for a dozen consecutive years,” he writes.
“We all agree that size matters in business. It’s not everything, but it counts for a lot. It has allowed Nokia to spread mobile communications technology at ever more affordable prices to people in every corner of the world,” he continued, “As [Nokia’s CEO] said recently at CES, our devices ‘already have done more to improve lives at the base of society’s pyramid than perhaps any technology in history’. And I am proud of that, and I, like the rest of my colleagues don’t use the words ‘Connecting People’ lightly.”
Nokia and Apple are embroiled in a patent infringement war, so it’s no surprise to see the two going head to head like this in the media. At a presentation like the one Apple held earlier this week, you can obviously expect some tomfoolery with facts, but I have to admit adding in the laptop division was stretching it a bit for Apple. It gave them nice headlines, though, so I guess it was a success.
At the same time, Nokia shouldn’t whine. It’s all a little hypocritical, since Nokia is also a company, which inevitably means they lie, contort, and twist facts just as much as Apple or any other company does. It reeks a bit of… Envy. Nokia isn’t doing well in the high-end – although they still remain king of the lower and middle end, and looking at the various offerings in those segments from Samsung, LG, and others, Nokia has little to fear there.