Nokia’s “rebirth”: expert reaction

Nokia Lumia 800

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop called today the "rebirth" of the Finnish mobile phone giant. Once the undisputed king of the mobile space it failed to set alight the smartphone market in the same was as Apple and Android and has seen its market share slide as a result.

Today Nokia has unveiled two new smartphones, the Lumia 800 and 710 as well as four new basic phones, called Asha, which will be targeted at emerging markets as the company looks to connect the "next billion" users, as Elop put it.

Earlier this year the company announced it would be joining forces with Microsoft – itself struggling to make an impact in the mobile space – and running Windows Phone on its smartphones.

At the time the move was considered a gamble by many. Now that the first phones running the Microsoft OS have been unveiled, has that opinion changed? CBR rounds up what people have been saying, writing and tweeting about it:

Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO
Today marks the rebirth of Nokia. People like Nokia. We’re trustworthy. We’re durable. We’re reliable. We comb our hair each morning. We pick you up from school. But it’s not enough. We want people to feel something special when the hear the word ‘Nokia’.

The ‘next billion’ are young, tech-savvy users in emerging markets that are growing fast.

Carolina Milanese, Gartner analyst
I still think Nokia is the only vendor that is truly looking at the opportunity in emerging markets with a tailored offering. Nokia Asha – hope for Nokia but also for consumers in emerging markets to access the Internet, apps & services the same as in mature ones.

Nokia is differentiating on services first as it has not had enough time with platform to do more on UI and experience. Today Nokia proved it can execute. Now it needs to keep the work up & deliver a more differentiated experience with next version of the OS

I said the other day that Nokia needs to market the hell out of these phones and sounds like Nokia is exactly doing that.

Although the Lumia 710 has a great price I wonder if the price difference with the 800 is not big enough to avoid competition between the two.

Francisco Jeronimo, research manager, European Mobile Devices, IDC
In 13 months, Stephen Elop stepped in as CEO of the biggest phone maker in the world, defined a new strategy and a new paradigm for Nokia, executed it and over exceeded expectations by delivering not only one, but two new Windows devices.

Despite the speed of development, the quality of the devices and the competitive pricing, Nokia will not be able to drive significant volumes in the coming months. The reason for that is not linked to the devices themselves, but to the low Windows Phone OS penetration and awareness among consumers.

Microsoft’s OS represented 2% of total smartphone shipments by the end of the second quarter 2012, the lowest share ever. In the coming weeks, these devices will share the store shelves among several popular Android devices, the new iPhone 4S and even some new BlackBerry 7 devices.

Consumers don’t know the Windows Phone user interface or its advantages. They have never tried a Windows Phone before and quite likely don’t know anyone who has a Windows Phone. Although this will change over time.

Will these devices be enough to reverse Nokia’s current performance? Nokia has been struggling in the smartphone segment since 2007. It will take a lot more than just a couple of phones to bring Nokia back, but what we are seeing today is an excellent first step and Nokia has shown that can change its culture, re-adapt and refocus on growth, by delivering devices that combine the best of hardware with unique services at the right price and at the right time. We foresee a brighter future to Nokia now compared to a year ago.

Nick Dillon, Ovum
Having replaced its own Symbian platform with Microsoft’s, this is essentially a restart for the handset manufacturer, which has struggled to adjust to the new dynamics of the smartphone market following the launch of the iPhone in 2007.

The challenges which Nokia faces are significant – many potential Windows Phone customers will have already bought an Android or iPhone and will have some form of attachment to those platforms. They will have invested in the platforms from a services, financial (via applications) and a familiarity perspective, and as such Nokia will have a challenge to convince them to switch to what is a largely unknown, and therefore risky, alternative. For consumers, they will need to have a clear and simple answer to the question: ‘why should I buy this instead of an iPhone or Android?’

Considering that Nokia had very little, if no, input into the Mango release of Windows Phone, the company has done well to differentiate its devices against those from other Windows Phones licensees. Nokia has included its Nokia Maps, which provides free offline navigation on both devices. Additionally, Nokia has brought its experience in imaging with an f2.2 Carl Zeiss camera which features touch to focus, a function which is unique to Nokia’s Windows Phone devices.

While none of these on their own are standout features, they at least provide Nokia with some ammunition for its marketing and sales team to market the devices in an increasingly competitive market.

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