Today Nokia CEO Stephen Elop must be seen to do a 'Jobs' and hold aloft a world-beating smartphone that's going to take the mobile world by storm (or at least make a bit of a dent in it). If he doesn't, he's toast. By Ian Scales.
When you consider the sheer amount of angst, pain, turmoil, anger and bitterness it's taken for Elop to get Nokia to this point, then clearly there has to be a pretty good gadget at the end of it. Not just a gadget... a world-beating sort of a gadget that will scream (in 40 languages, multiple colours and via thousands of apps) that "Nokia is back to its old form. Go out and buy with confidence." And "there's more to come where that came from."
By all accounts Elop is no Jobs but he's given it his best shot with the Lumia 800 at the Nokia World Event in London (a name that doesn't exactly scream, couldn't they find something more resounding?). The Lumia 800 is the flagship model with Windows 7.5 Mango and there's a slightly cheaper Lumia 710 going after the tier below.
Elop also announced a new range of phones aimed at the developing world and running its old S40 OS. These are called the Asha range and are tagged as being hybrid smart/feature phone - some of them have a 2-SIM feature, aimed at many emerging markets where both coverage and tariffs vary enough to make it worthwhile to have several SIMs on the go.
The next week (maybe the next few days) will tell us whether the core Elop strategy (to collapse Nokia's existing Symbian smartphone ecosystem and cuddle up to Microsoft, Elop's old employer) was really all that clever.
If there's just a measured response from the mobile gadget opinion-formers, then Microsoft and Nokia need to worry. If the phone gets caned, then it's a disaster.
The Lumia 800 is a handsome phone, if a little safe looking. Elop bigged it up at the launch by calling it "the first real Windows Phone," a claim which might come back to bite him.
Smartphones are all about apps: Nokia is offering Drive, a free navigation system which mapping software and 'Nokia Music' which is a streaming service which appears to be half-spotify, half Internet radio.
There's no doubt, though, that Nokia is about to kick off a ferocious marketing campaign for its new phones in the run-up to Christmas (the key buying time)
But observers point out that Elop is asking a lot of the Lumia 800. It is entering what now appears to be close to a two-horse race in many markets - iPhone v. Android.
Ovum analyst Nick Dillon points out that many potential customers are already "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... they will need to have a clear and simple answer to the question: ‘why should I buy this instead of an iPhone or Android?’
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