For a company, losing to the tune of a billion dollars every quarter, shutting up shop might sound like a practical approach.
Not with Nokia though, having failed with Symbian, having seen even their basic handsets lose the raging popularity that they once commanded. They have given up their title of the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer to Samsung.
Nokia is, to put it very mildly, deep in the doldrums. The company does not, however, seem anywhere near giving up. They have embraced Microsoft as their saviour, and churned up the Lumia series to combine their hardware and services prowess with the software allure of Windows Phone.
So far, it has worked well, but nowhere close to what is required. On the upside, the Lumia series has certainly breathed some fresh life into the ailing giant’s heart, and some much-needed cash into its pockets.
What Nokia Is Doing Well On Its Part?
It is time to move from software to the phones themselves. The Lumia 920 and 820 both look fantastic and very different from the competition.
Even Apple admitted that these are perfect examples of smartphones that unlike other phones, do not ape the iPhone’s design. Bright and fresh they might appear, in red, white, cyan and black, but once a consumer picks one of these models up, there is bound to be a groan of surprise.
The Lumia 920 weighs a remarkable 185 grams, around 40 per cent more than the iPhone. The 820 is not much better at 160 grams. Compounding this undesirable trait is the excessive thickness of these phones, with the 920 standing at 10.7mm, and the 820 at 9.9mm.
These figures pale in comparison to the iPhone 5’s 7.7mm, and even the Samsung Galaxy SIII’s 8.6mm. In an age when smartphones are getting lighter and thinner, Nokia’s new flagship models appear to be headed in the exact opposite direction.
That being said, not everything about the Lumia 920 and 820 is in the red. These are remarkable smartphones with typically high-range specifications and software that runs smoothly for the most part.
The 8.7MP camera of the Lumia, equipped with Nokia’s PureView technology, offers exceptional photography and video recording, especially in low light conditions. In addition, the PureMotion HD+ display on the 4.5-inch screen, with a resolution of 1280×768 pixels and pixel density of 332ppi, easily offers some of the most vibrant and high-contrast viewing currently available to smartphone customers.
Another feature that Nokia is touting as a highlight is wireless charging based on ‘Qi’ standard.
Also, their new releases, Lumia 520, Lumia 620 and Lumia 720 are gathering quite some eyeballs towards them due to their design, build quality and value for money factor.
The Nokia Lumia 620 currently sells for around $250 (unlocked) and is touted as the best performer in its price range. In India, the Lumia 520 price on the other hand will be around $190 (INR 10.5K unlocked) when it releases earlier next month.
Problems With Windows Phone Operating System
Apart from pricing and more devices options, the major feature that may either spell doom or resurgence for Nokia Windows Phones is the OS itself: Windows Phone 8.
There is no doubting the uniqueness of its interface; the highly distinguishing active tiles on the home screen have already caught customers’ eyes, and Windows Phone 8 betters its predecessor by making the tiles even more customizable. Compared to the widget system of Android and the classic App interface of iOS, Windows 8 certainly looks new and refreshing.
Whether ‘new’ and ‘refreshing’ will be enough to tilt the scale in Microsoft, and more importantly, Nokia’s favour remains to be seen. Users accustomed for long to the openness of Android and the ease-of-use of iOS, might not find a reason strong enough to switch to Windows 8. First-time smartphones buyers, similarly, might not want to risk going for a new OS, when Android and iOS are already well-accepted.
Another issue with Windows is the quality of the apps in its market. While Microsoft claims that the number of Windows apps is increasing by the minute, merely outnumbering Android and iOS apps is not the solution. Native Microsoft apps function quite well on Windows 8, but a majority are those that come over from the rival platforms. And in most cases, their usability is noticeably hampered. If Windows 8 and Nokia are to fuel each other’s survival, the app market needs to be fortified, and urgently so.
Should Nokia Reconsider Android Or Firefox?
Now it’s time for Windows Phone 8 to show some respect to Nokia’s efforts. And with it, on expected lines, time for the next generation of Lumia models, namely the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820.
Especially the Nokia Lumia 920 has fared much better than the competition in the camera and looks department; initial reactions, though, were negative, as Nokia’s shares fell by 14 per cent immediately after the announcement of the models.
The reason cited was the non-disclosure of the expected prices of the models. Pricing is a major issue that Nokia needs to quickly resolve, particularly if it wants to stay in touch with its two well-established smartphone rivals, Apple and Samsung.
Even after trying so hard, Nokia has been able to get their Windows smartphones only till a price point of nearly $190 (Nokia Lumia 520) but there is still a lot of gap between their Asha series of feature phones and Windows Phone based smartphones.
Also there has been a lot of demand for higher end dual SIM smartphones which Nokia hasn’t able to address. May be there is still time left to reconsider other operating systems which can help it in creating such devices. Android gives unimaginable number of ideas opened to thoughts such as dual SIM phones or any other experimental devices. Firefox OS, though new, can give it new options of having a really smartphone experience even at very low price levels.
Ultimately, it seems like the new Nokia phones are good on the hardware part which what Nokia can do on its part but with there are a lot of features missing on the part of operating system, that is, Windows Phone 8.
There are rumours that Microsoft is thinking of more than a couple of software updates to the Windows Phone operating system to make it even with other rival smartphone platforms. But it will take more than a year for Microsoft to catch up and it is less likely that they bring about the revolution in less than a year that the Finnish giant needs to recover even part of its former glory.
The question under review is: can Nokia win with Windows? The answer, unfortunately, is it will take time and I am not sure if Nokia has that much time. Not with the current features and operating system, at any rate. If in the future Microsoft were to revamp its app store and Nokia were to bring more sleekness and lightness to its design, not to mention some game-changing functionalities, it might be a possibility. Until then, the company’s fate will continue to hang on the Microsoft efforts.