“What the fug’s happening on May 14?” Good question, bro. Ailing Finnish manufacturer Nokia has fired out invites for what promises to be an interesting little gathering in London.
In a nutshell, Nokia will lift the proverbial lid on its next-generation Windows Phone-rockin’ Lumia smartphones, and they couldn’t come at a more crucial time (melodramatic enough for ya?).
On the whole, the smartphone market has flourished over the past few years. IDC estimated 55.4 million smartphone units were shipped in Q1 2010, rising to a whopping 216.2 million in the same quarter this year.
However, looking at the stats for Nokia, they tell almost the opposite story.
Nokia was once the undisputed darling of the smartphone world, easily holding the top spot in the charts for years – literally years – with its Symbian army.
Alas, times changed with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, and more recently Android and its various partners – most notably Samsung. Nokia emphatically failed to adapt.
To give you an idea of just how different things are, Nokia and RIM (now BlackBerry, of course) together held almost 60% of the smartphone market in Q1 2010, with the Finns contributing two-thirds of that share.
That seems almost unthinkable now, with both Nokia and BlackBerry unsurprisingly failing to make an appearance in the top-five smartphone manufacturers for Q1 2013. Behind Samsung and Apple, we have LG, Huawei and ZTE. Crazy times.
Famously, Nokia, under newish CEO Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft guy (ahem), decided to ditch “burning platform” Symbian in favour of Microsoft’s then-spanking new Windows Phone 7.
That all happened at the beginning of 2011 (was it really that long ago?), and two years later the jury’s still out on whether or not it was the right thing to do. Should Nokia have thrown its weight behind MeeGo instead? Or gone with Android?
Well, the damage is done now, and while Nokia was in the red for Q1, its Lumia sales were at least up.
Personally, I reckon Nokia has a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. Everyone knows the iPhone, and while many people think Samsung is Android, even LG is doing alright. The BlackBerry name, too, is arguably still relevant.
But what is Nokia up to? It’s effectively Microsoft’s lapdog. Casey McGee, senior marketing manager for Windows Phone recently said: “I am very happy with the relationship and the ability to influence what they are [Nokia is] doing."
Since Windows Phone can’t be customised the way Samsung and Sony and HTC (to name but a few) customise Android, it’s difficult for Nokia to stand out. Silly as it sounds, a Windows Phone, at a glance, just looks like a Windows Phone. There’s nothing that cries “NOKIA!”
And does anyone really know – or care – about Windows Phone? Things are looking ok down at entry-level (Nokia Lumia 520, Lumia 620, Huawei Ascend W1…), but what about the top of the spec tree?
Perhaps a good example is the Samsung ATIV S (left), essentially a Windows Phone 8-based Samsung Galaxy S3. How many did it sell? About three units. A slight exaggeration, obviously, but I dare say I’m not far off.
Having said all that, let’s sweep those five hundred words of abundant negativity to the side. The past is the past, and May 14 is looking quite promising.
For starters, there’s the Nokia Catwalk, tipped to be a thinner and lighter variant of the Nokia Lumia 920, all wrapped up in an aluminium shell. Sounds good to me.
But that’s hardly a game changer; it won’t be that different from the existing Nokia Lumia 920.
Enter: the Nokia EOS.
If the rumour mill is to be believed, the Nokia EOS will weigh in with an eye-melting 41MP camera, while also being the first quad-core Windows Phone.
That latter claim will no doubt impress the likes of you and me, sitting reading about phones in our leisure time, but it’s the 41MP camera that’s surely a marketing man’s dream; that same marketing man who probably wanted to scream about the Nokia 808 PureView but found himself gagged.
See, the Nokia 808 PureView arrived at the strangest of times, as Nokia was on its knees (er, figuratively) showing Microsoft just how serious it was about Windows Phone. Symbian, meanwhile, was already dead.
But the timing for this Nokia EOS beauty might well be perfect. There’s nothing to stop them shouting “Best smartphone camera in the world!” from the rooftops, and that’s the kind of thing Joe Public tends to listen to. Let’s just hope the price is right.
Yeah, so, all joking about Windows Phone and Nokia aside, I do genuinely have high hopes for May 14. Show us what you got, Nokia.