Nokia, Have they done enough?

by Brian Katz on November 2, 2011 · 6 comments

I just finished listening to the first episode of season 2 of the 361 Degrees podcast. It’s a great podcast where Ben Smith, Ewan MacLeod and Rafe Blandford discuss mobile technology. “From consumer to enterprise and from fun to the industry analysis we investigate and discuss mobile technology and the mobile industry.” The first episode was done at Nokia world and one of the great questions asked was “has Nokia done enough?”

Each of the hosts weighed in and they and the audience mostly agreed that Nokia had done enough with the sole dissenter really being Iain Wallace. The question they were asking in the Podcast was really “Did Nokia do enough with Windows Phone 7?” The short answer is no.

The big piece of news from Nokia was not that they were releasing 2 Windows Mobile Phones but that they were releasing the Asha line and renewing their focus on emerging markets. Nokia is now producing a feature phone/smartphone hybrid that makes a lot of sense – a low priced entry to emerging markets with the capabilities to play Angry Birds and the like. These will sell like hotcakes in my opinion.

While this was a great release to talk about for Nokia and will help them maintain market share in those markets, Nokia world was meant to be their unveiling of their first Windows Phone OS handsets and in that category Nokia didn’t do nearly enough. Nokia has made a huge bet on Windows Phone OS, dropping Symbian and Meego back in February and declaring they were all in with Microsoft.

Let’s take a quick look at the two phones that Nokia released at the event. They both adhere very tightly to Microsoft’s Specs for the first version of a Windows phone. They both have very fast processors (1.4Ghz processors) 512 MB internal memory, and quad-band 14.4 HSDPA. They differ in that the lower end model (Lumia 710) ships with a slightly less powerful battery, only a 5-megapixel camera and 8 GB of RAM. Their flagship model (Lumia 800) ships with a slightly bigger battery, an 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss lens camera, and a 16 GB of RAM.

So what has Nokia brought to the table 8 months after everyone else? Truthfully, not much to differentiate it from the other manufacturer’s phones, other than you can buy both phones in a variety of colors (my wife says one is fuschia pink – no idea what color that is) and the Lumia 800 has a beautiful package, the case and screen are terrific. We already knew that based on the N9.

This is not what I have come to expect from Nokia. I have owned a variety of their phones in the past, from a candy bar to multiple E61, 71 and others and these new Windows Mobile Phones did not scream out to me – they just whimpered “me too”. What is going to make me get one of these phones over a Samsung focus or an HTC Trophy. I know – I always wanted a yellow big bird phone – oh wait, most people use cases and then I can change the color as often as I want. Don’t get me wrong, as far as a Windows Phone 7.5 Mango phone these Lumia phones work great, there is nothing wrong with them and they have gotten good reviews in the past week. No one is disappointed with them, but there isn’t anything exciting about them either.

I expected Nokia to use their expertise to put a front facing camera on the phone. I thought they would offer one up with a keyboard. I thought they would do something that dazzled me and made me say: “I want that phone. I need to order one today.” The truth is they took their N9 meego phone emptied the innards out and had Compal fill it with Windows approved hardware. Nokia who has designers and has been building their own phones forever used an ODM (Original Device Manufacturer) to manufacture these phones. All based on the original reference design put out by Windows, not the new updated one that you assume they have had access to the longest since they tied up their deal with Microsoft.

It could be Nokia will try and compete on price with Samsung, HTC and others but that will be difficult with all of the carrier subsidies out there. One would think with the great announcement last week they these phones would be available world wide but, alas, no, these are only available in Europe until after the new year when they will come to North America.

If Nokia doing enough is turning around a Windows Phone in 8 months is considered enough than they have succeeded, but when did we set such a low bar. Samsung took their 10.1 tablet and completely revamped it in 3 months after the iPad 2 shipped and we are saying shipping a phone based on original reference designs in 8 months is okay? None of the secret sauce that Nokia has demonstrated in the past is in these phones. Those will arrive next year but will they be soon enough?


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