Nokia has launched its Lumia range of smartphones, its first phones powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, in the SA market. The Lumia devices represent Nokia’s concerted effort to claim back lost market share lost to Apple’s iPhone and devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.
The top of the range handset, the Lumia 800, will be available countrywide through Vodacom from 7 February (and from Vodaworld in Midrand immediately). The 710 will go on sale in the second quarter. Vodacom will be the only SA mobile operator distributing the 800 at launch. Nokia says it can’t confirm when it will be available on other networks.
The retail price for the Lumia 800 is about R6 500, according to Nokia; pricing of the 710 will be confirmed closer to the launch date.
Both devices have 1,4GHz Qualcomm processors but the Lumia 710 includes 8GB of internal storage rather than the 16GB on the 800. The 800 also has a superior camera.
Nokia hopes the Nokia Music Store, bundled into both phones, will help drive sales in SA. The music store features both local and international artists, and users will be able to purchase tracks for download.
The Lumia range also includes Nokia’s “Mix Radio”, which will allow users to stream playlists curated by Nokia from Nokia’s servers and create their own playlists and share them with other Nokia users. Considering the absence of the full Apple iTunes Store in the local market, this could prove a compelling value proposition, particularly for younger consumers.
According to Nokia, its Windows Phone application store now includes more than 60 000 apps with more than 400 applications added daily. More than 150 local apps will be available at the time of the Lumia’s SA launch.
Once the undisputed leader in the smartphone market, Nokia has lost crucial mind share and market share in recent years. In what some saw as a surprise move, Nokia CEO — and former Microsoft executive — Stephen Elop last year announced that the company would partner with Microsoft on its future high-end handsets, abandoning its own MeeGo platform in the process.
Reviews have been positive so far, with the hardware — something the company has always been good at — generally considered to be excellent. The software interface is garnering similar praise, but is it enough to reverse both Nokia and Microsoft’s fortunes in the highly competitive smartphone market?
Steven Ambrose, MD of consulting firm Strategy Worx, says Nokia has an “incredibly loyal” following in SA and in most markets outside the US. However, the company has disappointed those loyal followers at every turn since its popular N95 device.
“Nokia hasn’t released a truly compelling device in years,” Ambrose says. However, he feels the Lumia series, and particularly the Lumia 800, should change that.
“The Lumia range is aesthetically beautiful, well made, and has a great operating system in the form of Windows Phone 7. It’s a combination of great hardware and equally great software and it can compete with anything else on the market.”
Ambrose says the loyalty Nokia still enjoys among consumers means people will simply “buy the latest Nokia, not the software” and that many won’t realise it’s powered by Windows Phone until they start using it.
“Windows Phone 7 is irrelevant to most people, but they won’t be disappointed with it like they’ve been with other operating systems on Nokia devices before.”
He says the Windows Phone 7 interface provides a great user experience and expects a resurgence of interest in Nokia devices and fast-growing interest in Microsoft’s mobile operating system.
In addition, Ambrose expects the increased interest in Windows Phone 7 will result in mobile operators pushing other devices running the operating system such as those from Samsung and HTC.
For now, Ambrose says Windows Phone 7’s market share in SA is “probably in the thousands” of units. “We can’t even talk in terms of percent.”
He says even diehard fans that used the older and dated Windows Mobile 6.5 have for the most part moved to Google’s Android platform, though the operating system does continue to get some mileage out of courier services which use it on their handheld scanners.
Ambrose thinks the Lumia will perform well in SA. “Just by being the latest, hottest Nokia, the company will sell tons of them.” — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
- Subscribe to our free daily newsletter
- Follow us on Twitter or on Google+ or on Facebook
- Visit our sister website, SportsCentral (still in beta)