A New Hope (for Microsoft and Nokia)

Sometime over the past weeks, Nokia showed off its long awaited smartphones running Windows Phone 7.5 or simply put, Mango (don’t you just love tech firms naming their OSs edible things?). There were two versions: Lumia 800 and 710 the former being the bigger brother. The specifications of these two phones doesn’t really create that huge excitement as it doesn’t bring anything new to the battlefield. As a matter of fact Lumia 800 looks identical to N9 and that’s because Lumia 800 inherits lots from N9. There are better hardware though, such as the 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon on Lumia 800, for which I personally have feelings for. Here’s the new phones and Lumia 800 compared to N9:

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The only problem is, as the reviews suggest (since I have no chance of looking at the phone myself), that the camera of Lumia 800 isn’t as awesome as N9’s camera, which is something a lot of people can definitely live with. But I hear you say, if N9 wasn’t a huge success (no it wasn’t) what makes Lumia 800 special? And the answer is: Windows Phone. Now I hear you say, if Windows Phone wasn’t a huge success until now (yet) what makes it special? The answer will be: Nokia.

Let me remind you briefly what we used as human beings before the Smartphone awesomeness: normal, plain cellphones (the kids today will have hard time imagining). And the biggest market share belonged to Nokia for a very long time, until the guys with brains came in. Nokia was left behind in the smartphone race and tried to keep up with stuff like MeeGo and it failed miserably against the big players like iOS and Android. Microsoft had the same problem; Windows Phone 6 was a big thing back when we loved to use our HUGE PDAs, but when the smartphone market boomed, Microsoft was busy fixing Windows Vista. So now they decided to work together in the name of closing the gap. However, I think this Nokia-Microsoft partnership has something very different going on for them that the other companies don’t really have. And that is, availability. Because Nokia is a company or used to be a company that sold phones for the huge masses (I’m talking about the real 99%), it normally has very mature logistics and developed distribution channels. It has a presence most countries where there is a GSM network. So the Lumia couple have the chance to become the smartphone of masses because of this availability. Now people in US won’t really grasp this situation, but people like me and you will understand why it is important to own the distribution channel. This way, you get to buy from the company that produces it instead of the re-seller (which is kind of important), who puts 20% profit on the phone.

I haven’t even talked about the phones or the OS, because those stuff, I believe, would not make the huge difference for a phone that’s aiming for masses. I hear you say “but iPhone”. No. iPhone did not sell around 100 million because it’s a good phone and has a good OS. Of course I’m not suggesting it’s a bad phone, but once the people who bought it because it was a good phone or because they are just Apple fans bought it, they became opinion leaders. And let’s face it most people working on tech blogs who review the phones already have been using MacBooks (no, I got over hating Apple fan boys). Of course marketing and brand value and those kind of things are at work for selling a product to masses as well and Apple has a nice grasp on these things. But Nokia isn’t really the firm that has worst marketing skills out there, so there’s hope.

What I’m trying to say is that Nokia and Microsoft really has a shot with these phones and if they screw it up, I fear they might not get this kind of chance again. I feel there are some people in Microsoft with lots of vision but they are usually oppressed by the very corporate structure of the company and that’s kind of limiting the innovation going on in Microsoft. But that’s something I want to talk about some other time. As always time will show.

End note: Ah I just had to say this, that phone just looks awesome, I love the slab feel of smartphones. Nowadays when I look at an iPhone all I see is “too much”. Weird huh?

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About Oraj Bodur

Suspected of having fibre cables instead of veins. Huh.

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