Nokia World: Nokia sheds light on its latest smartphones

Although not among the most super of smartphones currently available, Nokia’s new Windows Phone offerings, branded as Lumia, are sure to provide a much-needed boost to its fortunes in the smartphone market. By borrowing some of the best aspects of its Meego-powered N9, Nokia’s flagship Lumia 800 WP smartphone has great industrial design, which is led by the pin-sharp 3.7” AMOLED display. A lower-spec Lumia 710 was also announced and priced at €270 to hit the more cost-conscious smartphone user against the higher-priced 800 (€420). Not only is changing and implementing a smartphone strategy in a short eight months a feat in itself, but also backing it up with two devices within that timeframe is a monumental achievement for Nokia.

Using the strap-line “The Amazing Every Day”, Nokia has leaned heavily on music, navigation and sports as points of differentiation for its WP devices, creating some interesting partnerships along the way. Also, by suggesting the devices are “Easier, Faster, Funner”, Nokia is clearly pushing the consumer towards ease of use and entertainment on a platform that has struggled to make any headway into the smartphone mindshare, let alone market share, and one for which it has a heritage in productivity tools and enterprise.

This will be Nokia’s biggest challenge – convincing users that WP is a viable platform and it also has the requisite ecosystem to back up the claim. To help in this respect, Nokia announced a wide-ranging advertising campaign, from in-store marketing to flash-mob-style street advertising. This is a must if the company is to educate users about the WP platform and re-stimulate awareness of the Nokia and Microsoft brands in the smartphone space.

While the launch, due next month, is available initially in six European countries, with more countries around the world, including India, expected to received the devices before the end of the year, a key omission is their availability in the North America market until 2012. Both Nokia and Microsoft have struggled to break into the NA market in the past and waiting until late1Q12-2Q12 to launch a Nokia WP product, probably an LTE/CDMA version, seems a massive oversight. Jo Harlow, EVP Smart Devices, stated that the company wanted to enter the US in a “relevant” way, but at a time when mobile operators are waiting anxiously for the “third horse” to enter the smartphone fray, surely by seeding the latest Lumia offerings into the market would have made sense particularly in the lead-up to the Xmas holiday period?

Either way, if Nokia can get its sales and marketing effort right, creating an enticing value proposition to the customer built on the availability of its impressive devices – coined as the “first real Windows phones” by Stephen Elop, CEO – and showcasing the WP ecosystem, then I’d expect the new devices to sell well in the coming months. There’s no doubt that Nokia has always created desirable products but if the tie-up with Microsoft is to be its final attack on the smartphone market then today it has gone some way to extinguishing its burning platform and laying the foundations for another.