It’s been a long time coming but after a decade of slowly losing its way, I think Nokia is headed back from the land of the lost.
This is not to say that I think the two new Lumia phones will pull Nokia out of its doldrums. However, I think the company has finally made some bold, intelligent decisions and, like it or not, Windows Phone will save them over the next few years.
First, Nokia cut its losses. For most of this decade Nokia has been producing phones that people bought because, in short, there was little else available. Europe bought Nokia because it was local, useable, and, above all, cheap while Asia and America liked the phones but rarely saw them as available and affordable. Samsung started in on Nokia’s lunch and Apple finished it. Now Microsoft, pardon the extended metaphor, is going to have to serve up dinner or they’re toast.
By breaking with MeeGo and Symbian, Nokia has ensured that IT departments will look at Nokia phones seriously again. Windows Phone may not seem popular, but rest assured that once Windows 8 hits it will be an important part of the Microsoft ecosystem. As fanboyish as we are here, I well understand the impact of Windows on the tech landscape and once Windows 8 and Windows Phone merge, Nokia’s profile will improve immensely.
Second, Nokia has always built good hardware and the N9 and these two new phones are no different. Strong, metal casing, a bright touchscreen, and meticulous manufacturing standards have made Nokias the workhorses of the mobile age and these phones don’t stray from that.
Third, Nokia can grab Apple’s scraps – and RIM’s whole market share. There is still an untapped group of consumers that are looking for a smartphone but aren’t quite sure what to buy. Consider Nokia’s current subscriber base, at least in Europe – they’re not selling to young, plugged in professionals. Instead, they’re selling to folks who are already loyal to the brand and have had a Nokia cellphone since the days of the 8120. The smartphone revolution passed them by and, in the same way Samsung tried to capitalize on the “soccer mom” market with phones like the Windows Mobile-powered Blackjack, Nokia now has an untapped market. The difference, however, is the branding. Two familiar brands, Microsoft and Nokia, are better than one – RIM.
Nokia’s return isn’t guaranteed but if you can give Elop credit for anything it’s in giving the company a bit more time to turn around.