Desperate to be seen as being different, Finish Phone Company Nokia has fired the first shots in an emerging Smartphone war by claiming that their new Windows phone is the “First real Windows Phone” despite the fact that HTC has been making Windows phones longer than any other manufacturer.Speaking at Nokia World in London overnight Nokia CEO Stephen Elop claimed that their new Lumia 710 and 800 models were “complementing and amplifying the design of a Windows Phone.”
After rolling out the much tipped Windows models he told the audience that the launch was “a new dawn for Nokia”, for many analysts in the audience it was seen as the last throw of the dice for a Company whose once dominant position in the mobile market has declined at the expense of rivals such as Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform.
Elop acknowledged that Nokia have been slow to embrace the pace of change and consumer demand in the key high-margin smartphone market.
Harking back to the days of the now famous Avis statement “We Try Harder” Elop acknowledged that Nokia had to deliver beyond his competitors if was to have any realistic hope of regaining its previous dominance.
He said that “emerging markets”, where “the next billion people” would first encounter the internet was where the Company anticipated gaining sales.
“This is an important moment to show how Nokia can change its direction,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “But we are going through a transformation and that takes time.”
Analysts have described the launches as a “make-or-break” moment for Nokia, given that a successful smartphone is seen as essential for its future, as well as critical to underpin any meaningful earnings and margin growth over the next few years. The competition is fierce – Apple, HTC and Samsung have all launched new smartphones in the last month.
Elop admitted that the Company was banking on the partnership with Microsoft struck earlier this year to help them. He has pinned the company’s hopes of recovery on this collaboration, aimed at producing a third mobile phone ecosystem alongside Android and Apple.
Mr Elop said the flagship Lumia 800 embodied Nokia’s ambition to deliver “craftsmanship at any price point”, and was “a reflection of absolute, consumer-led design”.
A marketing push believed to be part funded by Microsoft, will emphasise the phone’s global navigation services, offering turn-by-turn directions and live travel information for cities around the world, as well as free, pre-selected music and a forthcoming app from ESPN.
Nokia also revealed the Asha range, which is based on the Company’s existing ‘Symbian’ operating system. The company hopes the new devices will further blur the line between older, feature phones and smartphones. They will feature 5 megapixel cameras, social networking functions, music and long battery life.
A new 710 Windows model will feature similar specifications as well as an interchangeable back cover.
The Lumia 800 and 710 are based on Microsoft s Windows 7 software and come eight months after Nokia and Microsoft cut a deal.
“Lumia is reasonably good … but it’s not an iPhone killer or a Samsung killer,” Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics said. “But where Nokia does stand out is on their price — it looks like they are going to be very competitive.”
Lumia 800, with Carl Zeiss optics and 16GB of internal memory, will be available in selected European countries in November, including France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Britain. It will be sold in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan before the year-end.
Lumia 710, with a 1.4 GHz processor, navigational applications and Nokia Music — a free, mobile music-streaming app — will first be available in Australia toward the end of the year.