Nokia could benefit from diminishing its model fragmentation (there are 51 different models for sale right now in Europe, and growing) as this can undermine economies of scale and dilute the brand and model image.
A refocused reduced feature set and a structured, compact model range can provide quite healthy profit margins in a market segment were Nokia still rules. Nokia could benefit from a new unique, iconic, elemental and recognizable design that looks, at the same time, forward.
If I use an mp3 player for music, take pictures with a DSLR and have a small computer, I won’t need a substantial feature set from my cell phone.
So, these features would be more than enough:
the ability to make and receive calls;
the ability to make and receive smss;
a contact list;
bluetooth to connect with a headset, car audio systems or sync contacts (or events) with a PC.
There would be no special need for an FM radio or a camera, and a B&W display is perfect for the effect, as long as its GUI is beautifully designed, with purpose and intent. It can even resort to e-paper technology.
Such a simple design is more economic to build -and easier to sell with a healthy profit margin- while still being competitive on the market. It is also very simple to scale to other form-factors/feature sets without loosing its design cues. Nokia’s full range could be replaced with half a dozen models with higher economies of scale and larger profit margins.
The key aspect is to make the phone desirable -independently of its price or feature set- and the way it looks is central to that equation. Other brands tried a style oriented approach before and failed (Siemens Xelibri, for instance, and even Nokia with the Art Deco influenced collection) but these were superficial styling exercises (or with difficult functional compromises): they weren’t really an integrated effort between image, architecture, function and profit. Apple’s iPhone may be the most accomplished phone in that regard.
The market carves for real (deep, architectural, functional) design oriented phones that are simple, effective, economic, special and highly desirable, and no company is giving it an answer right now.
Nokia could and should grab it.