Why your next smartphone should be a Windows Phone based Nokia   Leave a comment

Reason 1: Nokia’s back!

The main reason for this is debatable, but most would agree all the changes is thanks to a certain Mr. Stephen Elop. Stephen Elop (born 31 December 1963) is Nokia’s CEO and a Canadian citizen. This is significant because Mr. Elop is the first non-Finn to be named CEO of Nokia and replaced Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in this position on September 21, 2010.

That in itself says a lot about how the company has changed. Nokia was founded as a company in 1871, so it took them 137 years to change to a non-Finn. That in a word has been Nokia’s biggest probelm…change. In March 2007, Nokia launched the Nokia N95 with the slogan “what computers have become”. It dominated sales charts worldwide. At almost the same time Apple launched the first iPhone – a totally different form factor with its touch-screen only interface and it revolutionized the smartphone industry. It took Nokia almost a year to respond to the competition by releasing the 5800 XpressMusic – an entry-level touch screen smartphone with a user interface which pales to the then magic of iOS. 11 Months in Tech terms is a life time to respond to change.

The resistance to embracing change has been a trait that has defined Nokia, a trait that ended in February 2011 when Stephen Elop sent the now infamous “burning platform” memo to company employees.  In it he bemoans missed opportunities and identifies multiple strategic challenges to the mobile phone company. Technology insiders and journalists have since remarked that the memo was a wake-up call for Nokia (“It is one of the most combustible and gripping documents ever to emerge from a major corporation – BBC.”) It was issued ahead of a Nokia analyst briefing in London, in which Mr. Elop was expected to announce big changes to the company’s strategy and senior management and he did. He basically changed how the company fundamentally functions.

Since he announced the change to windows phone in February 2011, Nokia has changed significantly. Nokia has made the change to Windows Phone, have announced 3 Windows Phones, two of which have all ready hit the market. They have decreased their workforce to optimal levels and according to Forbes, Nokia Corporation’s rating on financial markets has changed from “underperform” to “outperform”. This week they officially entered the US market by force and they are selling out all their Lumia 800’s at various stores in Europe. All in less time it took them to develop and launch the Meego based N9.

So all in all, Nokia is embracing change and are on the way up, they are starting to gain momentum by means of better management practices and that bodes very well for the future. A report by research firm Stanley and Morgan has produced the following predictions for WP based Nokia sales below:

From the report you can see that according to their predictions Nokia’s Windows Phone partnership is predicted to be a success. If the trends continues, 2014 can only lead to very impressive sales numbers.

Nokia’s marketing has also improved in leaps and bounds all around the globe. In London, Nokia got Deadmau5 and a team of light projection specialists to put on a 4D show at London’s Millbank Tower (Check it out on YouTube). In India, Nokia gave passenger planes a Nokia Lumia theme (pictures). In the United States, a market which Nokia has almost no market share in – YET), Nokia just kicked off a $200 million marketing campaign, internally refered to as “Operation Rolling Thunder“. “Operation rolling thunder” is going to focus on more engagement with tech enthusiasts, more work with retail to EDUCATE sales people on Windows Phone so they can effectively inform consumers. There will even be sales incentives of around $10-15 per handset sold to retailers. All strategies which is new to Nokia globally, never mind the in the US.

Under the fantastic headline “The Hail Mary pass is now in the air“, Tech Republic’s Jason Hiner argues that two of the big reasons that Windows Phone did not gain a larger market share in 2011 are now solved, and that if 2012 doesn’t deliver in America, they won’t be able to blame it on the handset hardware or carrier support. He does however predict that it will work and that Nokia  and WP will make a huge splash in 2012.

Heck, Nokia has even moved its regional head offices from Nairobi, Kenya to Johannesburg, South Africa (source). The new offices opened in Jo’burg at the beginning of January 2012, only a week and a half ago. A move, which I’m sure will only improve Nokia’s presence locally and further shows that Nokia is now embracing change.

I believe that if one looks at the situation in its entirety, Nokia can only succeed. The company chose a great direction and is executing it step by step. According to Anna Pavlova (1885 – 1931): “To follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret to success”, and I see Nokia is following their plan, without halt and with one aim.

Reason 2: Windows Phone:

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android both are selling really well, and in their own right they are both good operating systems. That said, if you think about it, they both are based on the same basic principle. Namely icons, widgets, home screens and shortcuts. Testament to this, is the various patent infringement court battles between the two in the recent past. Windows Phone 7 (WP7) has a totally different and much cleaner interface as can be seen below:

 Galaxy SII (Android)

Apple (iOS 5)

 Nokia Lumia (WP7)

 

Windows phone’s logo is “Put people first”. That says it all. It’s whole makeup is designed to make life easier for the consumer. Its fast, its clean and it’s a joy to use. The exact reasons why is a post on its own, one which I’ll publish as soon as I get my hands on my own Lumia 800, but the OS itself has won great praise from reviewers around the web. Some independent reviewers, like Jon Rettinger, head at Techbuffalo.com (link) and Rich Trenholm, news editor at CNET UK (link) even trading in their iPhones for a Lumia because they find themselves reaching for the Lumia 800 powered by WP7 more often than reaching for the iPhone.

All through Stephen Elop’s tenure, he as refered to the tussle for market share in the mobile phone space as a “War of ecosystems“. So he knows very well that it’s not only the user interface, or the phone design that is important, but the entire ecosystem. A big player in the ecosystem space he is referring to is the app market characteristics for the specific platform. The WP marketplace has recently reached 50,000 apps and as can be seen in the chat below, it has done so quicker than Android, Symbian and Blackberry, and only marginally slower than Apple (source).

With regards to the total number of apps in their market place, Microsoft is still behind, but not only is it growing at a very rapid rate (as can be seen above), but most of the “must have” apps are available al ready. Apps like Angry Birds, WhatsAp etc. are all available and are being updated frequently. Those which aren’t available, almost always have an alternative.

Mary Branscombe from ZDNet.com switched to WP7 (source) and concluded that: “Windows Phone is an OS that you’re not going to appreciate without using it. And ultimately, the best technology is the technology you use and want to keep using because it makes your life better.

That, in a nut shell, is what makes Windows Phone great.

Nokia has exclusive access to WP7:

Some say the partnership between Microsoft & Nokia is a last gasp effort between two has-beens. Nokia, even in the recent Symbian days has always had excellent hardware. Microsoft’s software has been the standard for a long, long time on PC with windows . Now they have combined to add what they do best to the Mobile mix. I say the its two giants combining their strengths.

The questions remains however that with Nokia putting all their eggs in the WP7 basket, how will they differentiate themselves from the competition. HTC & Samsung, amongst others, also make WP7 based phones and quite good ones at that. See, WP7 is very different to Android in that Microsoft has restricted access to the OS to ensure the experience stays on the same level, doesn’t matter which manufacturer’s phone it’s on. Android on the other hand let’s manufacturers play around with their OS as they please. Samsung has “Touch Wizz”, HTC has “Sense” and so forth. All WP7 based phone’s interfaces will look the same, except for Nokia’s that is. The answer lies in the details. To seal the deal with Nokia, Microsoft promised exclusive access to the OS. Nokia has all ready launched Nokia Drive and Nokia MusicRadio with the Lumia 800 to set them apart but that’s not all. Expect Meego’s Swipe interface, as well as other advancements to make a showing in future mainly because Stephen Elop has al ready confirmed that Nokia’s top research and most impressive hardware will all be directed towards WP. This, along with the great hardware we associate Nokia with will make them stand out from the crowd.

Reason 3: Great hardware:

Nokia has always had great hardware. Over time they have built a reputation for hardware that lasts. I still know people today, granted they are quite old people, who’s 3310’s are still fully functional. With the Lumia range of smart phones the trend is not only continuing it is improving as well. The Lumia 800 & 900’s bodies are made out of a moulded polycarbonate plastic. A design which doesn’t only ooze quality and durability, but it also stand out from the a crowd where iPhones/Android all pretty much look the same.

Nokia has a history of great camera’s as well. From the first Carl Zeiss lens on the N95 to the 12 megapixel unit on the N8, Nokia has been on the fore front of great cameras on mobile phones.  Currently both the Lumia 800 & 900 “only” feature 8 megapixel units, but to large extent that is mainly due to the limitations put down by Microsoft. If the rumours are true we will be seeing a WP bases successor for the N8 before the end of the year – now that is something to look forward to.

Conclusion:

Sure one would probably be happy with your Android/Apple smart phone, and they are both great products in their own right, but if all the reviews and buzz around the web is anything to go by, Nokia based Windows Phones will be the buzz in 2012. An example of this is the multiple awards the Nokia Lumia 900 won at CES 2012 (largest consumer electronic show in the US) which just finished in Las Vegas , USA, namely:

  • CNet’s “Best of CES” smartphone.
  • Popular Mechanics editor’s choice award for CES.
  • Popular Science “Product of the Future”.
  • LAPTOP magazine’s “Best of CES” finalists.

In my opinion, Nokia is starting to go on a roll – the only question is: Will you be part of it?

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