Interesting and contrasting set of blog opinions, as Engadget columnist and analyst Michael Gartenberg asks the difficult question "What's the future of Nokia?" and SPE's own Matt Miller of NokiaExperts responds with "Nokia’s future is under their control and I believe it will be very bright".

First up Gartenberg says:

Nokia failed to lead a changed market and has been forced into reacting to competitors instead of driving its own vision of the future. As smartphones left the realm of the enthusiast and became mass-market in terms of adoption and feature use, Nokia fell behind.

Now, I don't think that's fatal or long term, and I don't believe Nokia is going out of business. But I do question the company's position in the market and ability to lead without a major change in direction and strategy -- especially in the US and North America. Truth be told, Nokia now reminds me a lot of Apple back in 1996, losing relevance and market share in places that matter but with huge potential to leverage core assets and a terrific brand with millions of loyal fans. And as Apple did in its day, Nokia must now either try to decisively seize back its leadership position -- or lose it entirely.

Miller argues:

I too have some frustration with Nokia because I KNOW they have the capability to lead with devices and an operating system that excites consumers and we just haven’t seen much from them in interface changes or a clear strategy the past year or two. They need to show us that they are in control and will be blowing our socks off with products and services in the future that have no direct relation to what Apple or Google have already done. I have met some extremely talented and smart people at Nokia and they have obviously seen the success of the iPhone and the excitement surrounding Android so I have to believe they have some very exciting projects in the works to challenge both of these platforms in the next year or two.

The iPhone clearly shook up the mobile space, first in terms of user interface with iPhone OS 1.0, second in terms of application delivery with the App Store and iPhone OS 2.0, and thirdly with the price-drop to $99 for the iPhone 3G at the release of iPhone OS 3.0. Those kind of repetitive, rapid fire hits to a market can really disrupt established players, especially when done by a company as secretive as Apple. Add on Google's Android, webOS, and other platform advances, and it takes considerable will and agility to respond in a concise and timely manner. Nokia has shown the ability to do neither so far, but their size gives them one incredible buffer against the upstart smartphone platforms. The only question remains -- can and will they do it before the buffer (and profitability) runs out?

Give both Gartenberg and Miller a read, and let us know if Apple and the iPhone have anything to be worried about...