Nokia will launch its first Windows Phone devices close to the end of 2011. If it wants those devices to make a market impact, it might consider the following features.
Nokia plans to
release its first Windows Phone smartphones close to the end of 2011. It's a
huge bet for the Finnish phone maker, which abandoned its homegrown operating
systems in favor of Microsoft's platform. Failure to seize the minds of
consumers and businesses will mean further market-share declines, and a greatly
reduced chance of ever retaking the initiative from aggressive competitors such
as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android.
unveiled the N9, a high-end smartphone running the MeeGo operating system, but
even that device seems more a demonstration of the company's technical savvy
than something expected to succeed in the marketplace on its own terms.
year, we outlined a comprehensive strategy to change our course," Nokia CEO
Stephen Elop wrote in a June 20 statement accompanying the N9's debut.
"Innovation is at the heart of our strategy, and today we took important steps
to demonstrate a new pace of innovation at Nokia. It's the beginning of a new
era for Nokia."
In the meantime,
Elop's decision to abandon Nokia's homegrown platforms in favor of Windows
Phone has left some analysts nonplussed.
continue to avoid the stock as Symbian smartphone sales are falling off faster
than expected and we are skeptical that new Windows Phone (WP) models will be
able to replace lost profits," Stephen Patel, an analyst with Gleacher &
Co., wrote in a May 31 research note. "Our checks suggest mixed carrier support
for Nokia's transition to WP."
So how does
Nokia go about releasing a Windows Phone line that succeeds in the marketplace,
and helps reverse perceptions of the company as merrily burning to its
If the N9 was
meant to be a demonstration of Nokia's hardware prowess, the company may have
succeeded. Early reviews of the device were largely positive, with many citing
its sleek look (courtesy of the 3.9-inch, curved active-matrix organic
LED screen and backing engineered from a single piece of polycarbonate) an 8-megapixel camera, and features such as NFC (near-field communication),
which will allow users to share photos and other information by tapping another
smartphones loaded with Windows Phone make their marketplace debut, they'll be
facing competition, not only from the likes of the iPhone and Google Android
devices, but also other manufacturers' Windows Phone offerings. Thanks to
Microsoft's stringent hardware requirements (such as a 1GHz processor), these
devices will be of similar quality. Nokia will have to introduce something that
stands out from that crowd, possibly through a combination of elegant design
and killer features like NFC. Simply producing another touch-screen slab won't
do the trick.
should probably be a given, but it deserves mentioning anyway: All Nokia
smartphones need to hit the market running Windows Phone "Mango," the
wide-ranging update that will supposedly add some 500 new elements to the
platform. Mango's user-facing features include a redesigned Xbox Live Hub,
home-screen tiles capable of displaying up-to-the-minute information on friends
and contacts, and visual voice mail.
comScore, Nokia fails to place in the Top 5 rankings of either U.S. OEMs or
smartphone platforms. In the OEM scenario, it ranks behind Samsung, LG,
Motorola and others. In platforms, it lags even Palm, which now is owned by
Hewlett-Packard. If Nokia wants an added (and necessary) booster in its quest
for worldwide adoption, it needs to figure out a way to get its Windows Phone
devices on the store shelves of U.S. carriers and associated retailers.
of the devices will be the crucial perquisite for the expansion of [Windows
Phone] models," Stela Bokun, senior analyst with Pyramid Research, wrote in a May 9 note
. "Nokia knows it and
Microsoft knows it, and I am sure they will act on it quickly."
To be fair,
Bokun's model, while optimistic about Nokia's ultimate penetration with Windows
Phone, also depends on a slowing in Android's growth, with Apple's iOS and
Research In Motion's BlackBerry franchises suffering the collateral damage of
Google's duking it out with Microsoft. That's a lot of variables to digest, but
that one point about lower prices seems particularly noteworthy: Unless
Microsoft and Nokia find a way to sell quality smartphones on the cheap,
they'll never be able to push back against the tide of Google Android devices.