Thursday, 6 September 2012

Shokia as Espoo's latest smartphone fails to excite

To put no finer point on it, Nokia messed up the launch of their Windows 8 smartphone. Despite the hardware looking pretty good and incorporating some neat new technology like a blur-free camera and wireless charging, once again marketing bloopers will almost certainly doom the handset to failure. Here's my view on the big 3 reasons they got things so wrong.
  1. The name. Lumia is drab and meaningless.* "iPhone", "Galaxy" and even "One" and "Ascend" are memorable and quotable. If you say you've got a Lumia and especially a "Lumia 920", you'll sound like a dweeb. And no one wants that. Sort it out Nokia. You're not engineers anymore, you're creators of an experience. I don't want a 920 experience, I want a Galaxy of them.
  2. The release date. There isn't one. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Apple would have ended their presentation with "oh, and wait, you can buy this amazing technology tomorrow/ next week/ next month. Pre-orders open now". Any positive feeling around this handset will drain away in the interim and be blown out of the water by the iPhone 5 launch next week.
  3. Carrier support. Nokia and the US carriers put huge money into pushing the Lumia 800. But to no avail - I've seen estimates that the marketing spend per Lumia handset was $1,000 - comfortably more than the purchase price. The lack of clear carrier partners for the 920 is notable. They won't be burnt again and although Apple are certainly a bit of a devil to those vital carriers, they are a profitable devil. iPhone customers spend the most and give the best returns on marketing investments.
I suspect that two further reasons will emerge in the next couple of weeks. Firstly, the Nokia ad campaign that will accompany Lumia 920 will doubtless be rubbish. They desperately need a new creative agency. Secondly, Samsung have already announced their own Windows phone based on the Galaxy range. So Nokia's lock-in on the best operating system in the market will be short-lived. I imagine carriers will be firmly behind Samsung in a way that they won't be behind Nokia.

And, of course, there's the small matter of Apple's forthcoming iPhone 5. We only have to wait until next week.

I'm sad to say it, but I really think that Nokia has messed this up royally and has once again failed to capitalise on excellent hardware and software by failing to learn lessons of previous failures. I had high hopes for the Nokia + Windows 8 combination. That's probably why I'm so annoyed! Let's see what happens.

*Actually, as was pointed out at its original launch, Lumia does mean something. "Prostitute" in Spanish.

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