Microsoft, Nokia Should Steal BlackBerry Users: Analyst

Nokia and Microsoft, with the Lumia 900, Windows Phone and beyond, could find success by stealing BlackBerry users and Symbian holdouts, according to Forrester.

How can Nokia and Microsoft score the home run they need with the Nokia Lumia 900, the pair€™s first flagship smartphone, which AT&T will begin selling April 8? Convert over all current Symbian users and lure away BlackBerry users from Research In Motion€™s sinking ship, says Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in an April 5 blog post.

€œThe market is ripe for disruption€”Palm is dead, Symbian is sunsetting, RIM is faltering, and every player in the ecosystem (other than Google and Apple) want a third player to wedge between Google and Apple,€ wrote Rotman Epps. €œWindows Phone, led by Nokia, can€”and should€”be the market disruptor, but doing so requires overcoming two challenges.€

The first step is getting the carriers behind Nokia and Microsoft, she writes, telling an anecdote about a Verizon Wireless salesperson trying to talk her out of a Windows Phone. Later, she found a T-Mobile store where the ads were unavoidable.

€œHe who pays the operator sells the phone,€ she concludes. €œJudging from how Nokia has approached promotion at T-Mobile, Nokia€™s Windows Phones will sell much better than HTC€™s or Samsung€™s have.€

Challenge No. 2: targeting the right audience, which she believes Nokia and Microsoft aren€™t yet doing, in going after feature phone converts. Not only does this mean persuading consumers to take on the cost of a data plan in a still-soft economy, but also selling them on a platform that€™s less popular and all-around-them than iOS or Android.

Instead, said Rotman Epps, they should just steal RIM€™s fan base, who are already paying for data.

€œA more disruptive€”and in my view, more achievable€”goal is for Nokia and Microsoft to convert every BlackBerry user to Windows Phone within two years. BlackBerry users €¦ [have] consciously or unconsciously opted not to buy into Apple or Google€™s ecosystems thus far. And RIM itself acknowledges that it won€™t have its next-gen products ready anytime soon,€ argues Rotman Epps.

As of the 2011€™s fourth quarter, RIM had an 8.2 percent market share, according to IDC; add in the Symbian users, who, with Nokia gradually stopping support, will have to go somewhere, and that would position Nokia and Microsoft as €œa viable third platform and a foil for Google-Apple hegemony.€

Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi similarly expressed to eWEEK that Windows Phones are coming to market at an excellent time. Not only is RIM weak, but with Android vendors showing signs of fatigue and struggling to differentiate, Nokia and Microsoft could skim from Android€™s market share.

€œHigh-end users might not be willing to switch yet as the hype around Android remains, but mainstream consumers might, as their loyalty to Android is very low,€ said Milanesi. €œWe continue to believe that Android attracts users as a default because there is nothing else out there today other than iPhone.€

Is Windows Phone a strong enough offering to take the No. 3 spot?

€œI will say it loud and say it proud,€ she blogged. €œI love my Windows Phone.€