NEW BLOG: When Nokia unveiled its Symbian OS-powered 808 PureView at Mobile World Congress in 2012, there was one question which was most frequently asked: when will this come to Windows Phone? And now, a year and a half later, we have the answer.
The newly-announced Lumia 1020 gives Nokia an important differentiating factor in a smartphone race that is dominated by Apple and Samsung. No company has offered a device with similar capabilities despite the fact that it has been in the pipeline for quite some time, and in the marketing game Nokia now has some additional ammunition to use against its rivals.
With Nokia’s other Lumia smartphones also placing imaging high on the spec sheet, the hope will be that the new spec-busting smartphone will have something of a halo effect over the rest of the line. For users who prioritise the quality of their device camera, Nokia is hoping it will become the vendor of choice.
But the fact of the matter is that this will give Nokia a boost among a subset of the smartphone customer base. Among most users, the beauty of a smartphone is the versatility: the camera in the iPhone or Galaxy S4 (or HTC One, or Sony Xperia Z…) offers images that are certainly good enough for most purposes, with the convenience of a device that does so much more.
And it is here that Nokia (and Microsoft) still face a challenge. According to a survey last month, Windows Phone (along with fellow new-entrant BlackBerry 10) lacks many of the top titles available on Android or iOS, despite efforts to bolster their app catalogues.
While there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the number of apps available – approaching 150,000 for Windows Phone – this is irrelevant if it contains multiple products which offer the same functionality or are low quality.
As Canalys, the company behind the survey, noted: “The availability of key apps is a factor in motivating consumers’ initial mobile device purchasing decisions, and it will only become more so. But moreover, it is a major factor in determining ongoing consumer satisfaction.”
As a premium device, the Lumia 1020 is targeting existing smartphone owners, many of who will have built up a collection of favourite apps and content on Android or iOS. Until Windows Phone can match this, converting users will always be a challenge.
And again Nokia has chosen to lead in the US, a market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and with Android gaining ground. Nokia has never been strong in this country, so it seems odd to choose this as a core battle ground for new products, when it may find it easier to build momentum in markets where it already has some brand cachet.
So, as a device in its own right, Nokia’s latest smartphone may do less to drive adoption of Windows Phone than other devices in Nokia’s range, aimed at less demanding consumers. As sales of these units increase the size of the Windows Phone user base, the platform will become more appealing to developers, who will create the apps and content which will enable it to become a more effective competitor at the high-end.
For imaging centric users, there is a new game in town. The 808 PureView reviewed well for its image quality, with the main focus of criticism being the fact that it is powered by an aging platform. Lumia 1020 addresses this, as well as updating the PureView imaging experience, to create what looks likely to become a stand-out device for a specific segment of the customer base.
And Nokia has picked up some bragging rights, which will give it a boost in the fiercely competitive marketing battle.
Nokia’s success in the smartphone market – which is not guaranteed – will come from the breadth of its portfolio, and not a single device. But the Lumia 1020 does at least have features which set it apart from its main rivals – and for that alone it should be applauded.
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members