Nokia kicked off the Mobile World Congress (MWC) with its press conference on February 27, in Barcelona. Stephen Elop, President and CEO of Nokia took stage and described the progress they have made since the last year’s event. If you recall, it was last year’s MWC when Nokia had officially announced that they were going all in on Windows Phone.
After the initial update on Nokia’s latest endeavors both on the low-end Asha phones, and also on the higher-end Windows Phones, the talk shifted to the new stuff. First up was the Asha line of phones, and 3 new devices were announced, along with Nokia Life services which bring life skills, parenting, education, agriculture and entertainment services to Series 30 and 50 phones in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.
However, I want to focus on Nokia’s progress with Windows Phone. Late last year, Nokia announced and launched two brand new devices, the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710. These devices were released ahead of schedule, and were available in parts of Europe first, and then slowly to other geographies over the next months. The launches everywhere were accompanied with a lot of marketing muscle – from concerts and light shows to flash mobs and video shows. Some examples:
- Deadmau5 concert in London [YouTube link]
- Streetside promotions in Ireland [YouTube link]
- Video show in a Copenhagen soccer stadium [YouTube link]
Yet, I was surprised that based on a recent report by Strategy Analytics, Nokia was able to go from no market share to the highest share among all Windows Phone device makers. It is even more remarkable when you consider that the phones were not even available for the entire quarter, and not across most geographies where other device makers were already selling Windows Phones.
The “rolling thunder” campaign continued, and at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nokia announced the Lumia 900 which was to be the flagship device for the North American market – with features like a larger screen, (excellent) front camera, LTE, etc. This device made it three devices released within a year of announcing their new ecosystem strategy.
At the MWC press conference, Nokia announced their fourth device in the Lumia line, the Lumia 610. This device is a low-end phone running the latest version of the Windows Phone OS (codenamed Tango), which has been engineered to support lowered chassis specification, specifically with memory limited to 256MB. The device is expected to retail for € 189 before taxes and subsidies, which is an incredibly low price for a smartphone. This device is also going to be a featured device for Nokia’s Windows Phone entry into China, an obviously huge market opportunity. Paul Paliath has covered the Lumia 610 and Tango here on Techie Buzz.
Nokia Lumia 710
Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia Lumia 900
So, in about one year Nokia has gone from zero Windows Phones to four Windows Phones covering the entire pricing spectrum from the extremely low-end to the high-end. Their marketing is clearly working because people are in fact buying Nokia phones. The strategy is deliberate, albeit slow. Among all the device makers, Nokia seems to be the one which is putting the most thought in designing the hardware, and building the specialized software (like Nokia Drive, Nokia Transport, Nokia Reader, etc.) for Windows Phone.
The market potential is there, since smartphones are still a tiny percentage of the total number of phones sold in the world and despite the huge gains made by iPhone and Android, we are still in early days. Does Nokia have enough of a differentiation and discipline in execution to win back some of the huge market share losses they have incurred over the past few years? Can they steer the Windows Phone ship into a position of being a healthy #3 ecosystem?
As a Windows Phone enthusiast and one who likes to root for the underdog, I sure hope they can!
All images from Nokia Press (http://press.nokia.com)