| | 01-29-2013, 07:50 PM #1
Firstly, let me start by saying, I'm a big supporter of Nokia. I was about to replace my TouchPro2 (Windows Mobile 6) with an HTC 7Pro, when Nokia and Microsoft announced their tie-up with Windows Phone... ultimately, I ended up waiting for the first Nokia devices to surface. After what seemed like an age, finally the Lumia series was released, and I picked up a 710. I have since got myself a 610 alongside the 710, and love both devices, and the seemingly impressive committment Nokia had begun to make to the platform.
First problem I saw happen with Nokia, was the delay between their announcement of the tie-up with Microsoft, and them actually launching any handsets. The carried on to release further Symbian handsets and the N9, knowing full-well that both platforms, were all-but-dead, and for this, they recieved massive criticism from the media. Sales of Nokia smartphones plummetted, and Nokia became a "hasbeen" overnight in the smartphone market. They we're of course already on their way down, with the ageing Symbian S60 platform having become a dinosaur from a bygone era as soon as the release of the original iPhone with iOS, and successive smartphones such as the Palm Pre with webOS. Leaks such as the "burning platform" email didn't go toward helping Nokia, and their fortunes tumbled.
Nokia seemingly found a crafty way to stay afloat - by releasing low-end handsets, and targetting the budget and developing markets. Crafty yes, profitable no. The company was left reeling, and the share-price collapsed.
Eventually, along come the first generation of Lumia handsets, namely the Lumia 800 and 710; despite them being re-launches of previous Symbian and Meego handsets, but running Windows Phone, the media is, for want of a better word, wowed by the handsets. The Lumia 800 proved to be one of the most exciting things to happen in the industry, since possibly the original iPhone. But Nokia were up against it, and took a long time, and a lot of investment in marketing, to gain traction. But they kept pushing, and released the the 900 and 610 handsets, and gradually, Lumia went from being a word derived from the Finnish word for snow (or alternatively, the direct Spanish word for prosititute), to a buzzword making it big on the internet, and even a popular word "on the street".
Now we fast-forward to June 2012, and we have the WP8 announcement... Microsoft drops a bomb on the momentum of Windows Phone and Lumia devices, by effectively signalling the EOL call for all devices currently on the market, including the newest Lumia devices. Recent adopters are left feeling a little bitter towards Microsoft and Nokia, although arguments for and against the "reboot" and the discontinuation of support for current devices, are all entirely as valid as each other. No matter how one looks at it, it dented the Windows Phone platform.
So as we move towards 2013, Nokia, HTC and Samsung all announce their next-gen device running WP8. Whilst the Samsung device and stance towards Windows Phone is a disappointment (but understandable given their position as market-leader, and the domination and sales of their Android devices), both HTC and Nokia impress massively. Samsung fail to get their only device to market in decent time, but without anybody really noticing, outside of the WP world. Whether it be a lack of committment to the platform by Samsung, or a lack of carrier support due to domination concers, is debatable, but nevertheless it happens.
Meanwhile, HTC manage to get both their 8x and 8s devices out in good time, and both recieve popular acclaim and positive feedback.
Then we turn to Nokia. The Lumia 920... oh wow, what a phone. The perfect device for imaging? Oh what should have been... if only it could take top photographs in the daylight. In every aspect but perhaps, weight and size, the device is perfect, until you come to daylight photographs. How did Nokia and Carl Zeiss get it so wrong? Further to this, Nokia end up with massive shortages, unable to supply the consumer demand, and worse, they lose a tonne of sales, by going down the pointless exclusivity route. The amount of people I have spoke to who ditched their iPhone 4 at upgrade, and went for the GS3, simply because "the Lumia 920 isn't available on my network" is amazing! Add to that the phenomonal costs of the EE network, and the complete lack of promotion of the handset by the EE/Orange/T-Mobile network, sales in the UK, have been abysmal.
The Lumia 820... nobody is really sure where this device fits in. It's too expensive in comparison to the 620 and 920 to really have a place, and for the few pounds extra (relatively speaking), one would always prefer the 920. I'm sure some people like the 820, but the 820 in reality, makes no sense, being priced so close to the 920, yet with so many features removed. It's saving grace? Silly cheap deals being offered to seemingly clear the handsets by retailers.
The Lumia 620... the device that should have changed the smartphone market... fails epically. Had the device been released before Xmas, it would have stood out to teenagers, the one market that Nokia and WP cannot crack. It's mix of customizable rear covers, big coloured tiles, and range of bold and bright covers available would have almost surely put the device in the mindshare of the teenage market.
So Nokia eventually decide to start supplying the 620 after the Xmas period. Incompetence? They decide to start by targetting developing markets... yeah, the markets where the cash isn't available for the mass general public to actually buy the device at its current pricing levels, the markets where they propose the 510 would be the better priced handset. Incompetence? Eventually, it will make its way into the UK, seemingly in early February... with both limited stocks, and available only in Black or White until March, at the very earliest? So the big selling point of the phone, the multiple and interchangable covers, has completely gone out of the window.
Nokia are miserably failing right now IMHO. A mixture of stupid exclusivity deals, problems with supply left, right and centre, and strange marketing decisions, seem to suggest the company doesn't have a clue where to go or what to do next. After building up a huge momentum in the UK at least, one of their biggest markets (alongisde Italy), the company has decided the UK market is no longer important to them. On top of this, the supply problems are bizarre. Why are we left waiting for 3 - 4 months after announcement, for the handsets to finally make it through to retailers? 3 - 4 months in the smartphone world, is a LONG time. Apple announce their next iPhone, and it's available to buy within weeks. No shortage of supply issues, and yet... they're selling 10x the amount of iPhones are Nokia are selling Lumia's upon launch. Nokia announce their next Lumia devices, and by the time the general public can buy them en-masse, the world is waiting for imminent announcement of the next generation of devices.
So are Nokia incompetent, or are they just a dying giant? Would they be bette placed bowing out of the smartphone market, as they are seemingly unabled to keep up with the big boys anymore? It seems they have the all the idea, all the technology, but no method in place to actually get the handsets into hands? I know they reacted to dropping demand for Nokia smartphones, by cutting their supply chain time and time again over the past few years, but has the damage been fatal, is there any way back, or should we just expect (and therefore back) that the only companies who can keep up with supply vs demand, to be Samsung and HTC nowadays?
I must admit, I had the Lumia 620 on pre-order from early January... only to be told Nokia have no intention of releasing the green model until at least March 2013. Now one could argue that I can change the covers.... but you try finding them? I don't see how Nokia can release them, and I don't have much faith that they will, given the fact they can't even manage to run-off a few thousand covers for sale with handsets. Then there is the issue that March, will be at least 3 months after the announcement of the handset, and they could actually possibly announce a better device (720?) on the 25th of February?
I was originally looking to grab a 920, mainly for the video and low-light specs... but given it was announced in October 2012, and it won't be available to the general population until 4 months later (February 2013 at the earliest), I'm not prepared to pay £450+ for a device that will be replaced within months. When i tried to purchase one from Phones4u for £459, I was informed it would only work on EE, so until February, it was a no-go. And it's still unclear as to whether, or when, the 920 and 620 will be available in the UK...