Three years of suffering is just about all that Nokia could take, it seems. The time has come for a breakthrough — this smartphone maker will either continue plummeting to the bottom, beaten by the iPhone and Android OS smartphones, or it will be back in the game by playing a single card: Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
No matter how slowly Microsoft’s operating system breaks through to Apple- and Google-seduced users in the U.S., it seems that the later scenario is already happening for Nokia on the European market.
Just two months ago, assessments of European analysts stated otherwise. They predicted that just one out of fifty new smartphone purchasers would choose a Lumia model, Nokia’s first smartphones which come with Windows Phone. Despite these depressing predictions, the first three months of Lumia 800 and Lumia 710’s sales were sensational in some European countries, above all expectations.
Strong Demand for Lumias
During its first week, this smartphone was available in the Netherlands, the Lumia 800 became the second most wanted smartphone in the country. From week two to this day, it has been holding the first spot. It is followed by the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S Plus, BlackBerry Torch 9860 etc. The madness which took over Europe in the past two or three years over the iPhone is beginning to wear down, to Nokia’s benefit, as it is back in the game thanks to Lumias.
During the first three months in the markets of just several European countries, the Lumia 800 sold over a million units. It does not seem like a great number compared to the iPhone 4S, which has recorded sales of several million units to this day, but one should keep in mind that Nokia sold its first million of Lumias placing its flagship only in the Netherlands, Great Britain and several other countries. Also, this is Nokia’s first phone with Windows, and the 4S is the fifth iPhone.
Those who purchased the Lumia 800 are pleased because they got their money’s worth, and talk of their new device with equal zeal that the iPhone was talked about when it first appeared on the European market. The Lumia 800 has a fantastic design, radiates joy and positive energy, has a fantastic display which provides unstoppable contrast together with the Windows Phone user interface, and there is also the above-average camera, an enduring battery and a sense of reliability which was provided by Nokia’s former top models.
Enter the Lumia 900
Nobody doubts anymore that Lumia will be a successful smartphone series and additional confirmation came during the CES tradeshow last month, where the Lumia 900 (a device much like Lumia 800, but with a somewhat bigger screen and LTE) was a smash hit. A whole bunch of interesting smartphones with 4G LTE were presented in Las Vegas, from the first Sony Xperias (signed only by Sony and no longer Sony Ericsson), to hidden gems like the ultra-slim Huawei Ascend P1 S; but the Lumia 900 was the star of the show. Starting at CES, the market enthusiasm for the Lumia line, which has been present for the past three months in Europe, finally crossed over to America.
The Lumia 900’s debut on the European market is expected next week, during the MWC tradeshow which will be held in Barcelona — this will be a response to countless demands of Europeans directed at Nokia, after we jealously observed the Finnish giant’s presence in Las Vegas last month.
Lumia 900 is simply what the market wants right now — some distance from the iPhone, in the sense of a far more up-to-date user interface, a bigger screen and a modern design, not “Apple design”. Furthermore, the U.S. and European markets, just like the global market, are sick and tired of Apple’s success — there is a sense that the late Jobs’ company does not have to put in any effort at all in order to succeed, and this is why people have largely warmed up to Nokia over the past three months, a company which is in the exact opposite situation. Unlike Apple, it has had relatively poor financial results, has been forced to let employees go and is losing face among carriers — but probably not for long, because it has good phones once again.
Microsoft plays an important role in this too, by doing a great job on the developers’ side of the story. Thousands of Lumias have been distributed, free of charge, to programmers across Europe who are prepared to port their iOS and Android applications for Windows Phone. Microsoft has organized free workshops for developers all over Europe who create applications for its mobile operating system as well as Windows 8. The community which produces software for the Windows Marketplace is rapidly growing, and Microsoft is paying it all the attention it deserves.
When Windows 8 arrives later this year, Microsoft’s operating system will offer a similar user experience on computers, tablets and smartphones, Nokia’s smartphones which use this user interface as well, which will bring about a vast market expansion. This means that we can expect the arrival of rumored devices, like the Lumia Tab, breaking the Android-iOS duopoly, which has been ruling the smartphone market. This should knock down the prices of the devices themselves.
It has been precisely a year since the former great rivals Nokia and Microsoft joined forces and buried the hatchet in what was clearly a win-win situation for the two giants. By forsaking Symbian and accepting Windows Phone, Nokia is no longer producing a solely European product, but is offering a combination of the best from Europe and America. This is why Europeans are warming up to Nokia again.
About Dragan Petric
For the last fifteen years, Dragan Petric (www.draganpetric.com) has been working as an IT journalist, editor and analyst, with special interests in telecommunication technologies and services. In addition, he authored five books and published over 2,500 articles in many magazines and newspapers in Europe. He has attended about 30 telecommunications and IT congresses around the world and won several journalists awards for his work.