I was part of #Nokia World 2013 and among a group of 25 analysts who had hands on experience of the six new Nokia devices before the official launch. We were under embargo up to 11 am on 22nd October 2013, till the official announcement was made.
By then I was pretty sure that the new breed of Nokia mobile devices are definitely going to catch the attention of the tech community. Without going into details of the products, which many of my industry colleagues have already thrown light on in detail, I will talk about the strategic implications of Nokia’s announcements at the event:
Nokia’s entry into the Tablets market, expansion of the Asha mobile phones portfolio, partnership with WhatsApp for Asha devices, entry into the Phablets market, availability of apps like Instagram and others on the Windows Store and launch of HERE Explore. Each of the above ‘events’ can be further categorised into unique innovations, which will be discussed individually in my subsequent blogs on the subject.
What really surprised me is that with the recent acquisition announcement by Microsoft, the overall motivation levels in the Nokia team were very high. With a large scale, complex acquisition in process it is very easy to get distracted. So, to come up with unique features and innovation in new products by a large, corporate team in a matrix organisation structure is a very commendable achievement, indeed.
Secondly, according to me Nokia has made clear is that Asha is here to stay. With expansion of the Asha portfolio by launching the Asha 500, 502 and 503, that too on an updated Asha platform, Nokia is consciously taking on cheaper entry-level Android phones head-to-head, as this is a segment where Windows phones will take time to compete effectively.
The third point which I want to highlight is that with its entry into the Phablets and Tablets categories, Nokia now has a complete range of mobile devices to offer its customers. The device vendor can now compete head-to-head with rivals across all categories of devices.
But in the midst of all the positive announcements, there was a disappointment regarding the time-frame for the launch of Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320 devices in developing countries, key markets where large screen smartphone shipments are on the rise. With the Lumia 1520 launching in late 4Q 2013 and the Lumia 1320 in early 2014, I’m afraid that Nokia will lose out on the seasonal boost in shipments that major markets like India can provide. Consumers in these geographies have been waiting for large screen devices from the Nokia stable.
However, the overall momentum is definitely with Nokia and it should use this opportunity to lay a strong foundation for its Windows Phone OS-based device business if the acquisition by Microsoft is to succeed.
During my flight back from Abu Dhabi emotions were running high and a part of me realised that I had just been a part of Nokia’s last major independent events as a device company, and with it the curtains came down on a series of fabulous product launches over the years. But as every beginning has an end, so every end must have a new beginning, for who knows, the next year may see the a new chapter in the global mobile device industry – Mircosoft’s Nokia Device World 2014!