The comment yesterday by Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop was intended to disparage rival Windows Phone manufacturers. Nokia also hoped it the combative approach would demonstrate that the Finnish phone maker was not âin Microsoftâs pocketâ.
Asked what he thought of the comment, however, Microsoftâs head of Windows Phone, Joe Belfiore, said that âwhen he said it I was very enthusiastic; it made me feel positiveâ.
âThereâs lots of good pieces of hardware but what [Elop] meant, and what I thought of when he said it, was that this is about everything that supports the phones â the ad campaign, the connection to customer, a brand being really behind it,” Mr Belfiore added.
“I think what Nokiaâs going to do is going to be quite different from what other manufacturers have done with Windows Phone. So from that perspective I think itâs fair. And I think it will capture for us and for customers a really different feel about the whole proposition.
âWe needed hardware and âgo to marketâ â advertising, retail energy to fill that out. I think Nokiaâs bringing that to the table. We have great software and we now have killer hardware and a company thatâs going to support it.â
The difference in approach, Mr Belfiore argued, stemmed from Nokiaâs different relationship to Microsoft. âOther handset vendors, in general, are looking, at us as part of a portfolio that focuses on Android; what Nokia is doing is very specific to Windows Phone,
Mr Belfiore singled out the HTC Titan for its âunique and interestingâ approach, but said Nokiaâs âhardware is a great fit for Windows Phoneâ. The Finnish firm has come âquite a long distance in aesthetically beautiful hardware, quality standards that are very high â itâs visually distinctive in a way that Windows Phone is distinctiveâ, he said.
Future evolutions of Windows Phone were likely to be more personalised, Mr Belfiore said. He compared the Microsoft platform to Googleâs Android, and said his companyâs product required less input from consumers. âAndroid is a very customisable platform, so if youâre a tinkerer it gives you lots of possibilities,â said Mr Belfiore.
âThe flipside of that trade-off is you have to do quite a lot of work. What weâre trying to do is make our start screen and our tiles light up for you personally without you having to put in the work to customise it.â
For future products, Mr Belfiore said âWe will do more of that, and the phone will also light up with the world around you too, with products that are sensitive to your location.â
But some analysts say it may be ‘too little, too late,’ for the world’s top mobile phone maker, hoping to claw back market share it has lost in the smartphone race to chief rivals, Apple, Samsung and Google.
With price tags of $560 and $360, the Lumia 800 and 710 are based on Microsoft’s operating system and come eight months after Nokia and the computing giant said they were hitching up.
“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 Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan toward the end of the year.
The company’s share price jumped almost 3 per cent in an otherwise depressed market on the Helsinki Stock Exchange but settled, closing almost unchanged at ($6.68).
Nokia, which claims 1.3 billion daily users, has been the world’s biggest handset maker since 1998, selling 432 million devices last year – more than its three closest rivals combined.
But after reaching its announced global goal of 40 per cent market share in 2008, it has struggled against rivals making cheaper handsets in Asia, and its share has shrunk to 24 percent earlier this year.