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Nokia’s Plan.B was Android (Before it got acquired)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 14, 2013

The cost and benefits of options and opportunities not taken can never be estimated in its entirety. The same could be said for Nokia rumoured move ( Plunge be abetter word) to Android.

Before the 23rd August 2013, Nokia Microsoft deal was announced, Nokia was considering options in Android on Lumia. This isn’t surprising – rather it was in common sense not to load up all its devices on Windows platform. It was a huge risk- which i am not sure has benefitted Nokia. Stephen Elop has himself accepted that this move was not considered in 2010 because of the dominance of Samsung on the Android platform would have meant Nokia being relegated to a lesser-than-what-was-expected status in the Android hierarchy.

Considering that Nokia lost market share from 32% in 20110 to 3% in 2013 – the Android shift as a plan B hardly comes as a surprise- rather it is much too obvious that the maturity of Android as a platform and the hardware competence and scale of Nokia would have made a great combination.Nokia would have saved money, reduced development costs and still play to its hardware design strengths. The Android scale would have also helped Nokia enter mid and low end of the smartphone markets earier, faster with greater acceptability.

Nokia had an option to exit the partnership late next year, but that certainly can’t happen now. It’s interesting to think about how differently things could’ve gone if Nokia had decided to go with Google rather than Microsoft, but it looks like we’ll never know now.

Microsoft buys out Nokia! (Finally)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 3, 2013

There then, didn’t i say it?

steve-ballmer-stephen-slop-03913

In an earlier post dated July 2012, i had quoted Eldar Murtazin on a supposed rumour of Microsoft buying out Nokia. The moment has arrived as Microsoft has announced take over of Nokia’s portfolio of smartphones, patents and services to mount a more formidable challenge to Google and Apple.

The 5.44 billion euros ($7.2 billion) deal announced late Monday marks a major step in Microsoft’s push to transform itself from a software maker focused on making operating systems and applications for desktop and laptop computers into a more versatile and nimble company that delivers services on any kind of Internet-connected gadget. The proposed price consists of 3.79 billion euros ($5 billion) for the Nokia unit that makes mobile phones, including its line of Lumia smartphones that run Windows Phone software. Another 1.65 billion euros ($2.2 billion) will be paid for a 10-year license to use Nokia’s patents, with the option to extend it indefinitely. It will represent the second most expensive acquisition in Microsoft’s 38-year history, ranking behind an $8.5 billion purchase of Internet calling and video conferencing service Skype.The operations that are planned to be transferred to Microsoft generated an estimated 14.9 billion euros, or almost 50 per cent of Nokia’s net sales for the full year 2012.

To me, the marriage has been in the making for long – ever since Stephen Elop joined Nokia as CEO in 2010. Elop has been single handedly instrumental in aligning Nokia to Microsoft – at the cost of cutting out other platforms from Nokia – Meego in particular which was a very promising platform. The fabled act of putting “all eggs in one basket” i.e concentrating all of Nokia’s high end effort on the Microsoft platform bypassing Android as an option. The Lumia series of Nokia smartphones has not exactly set the Nokia Cash registers on fire. Elop also worked out to lean out Nokia moving out 20000 workforce/jobs. Nokia has lost more than 5 billion euros in nine quarters as Elop’s comeback bid hasn’t reversed market-share declines. Through Elop’s tenure, Nokia’s basic phones have been losing users to Chinese rivals and new smartphones have failed to stop shoppers from picking up Samsung and Apple devices. Nokia Smartphone business hasn’t been performing very well. Nokia which sold close to 28 million smartphone handsets not long ago in December 2010, has managed to sell only 7.4 million Lumia handsets in Q2 2013. That said, Nokia’s low end handset business and its Asha platform hasn’t been performing well.Stephen Elop sets out from Nokia and into Microsoft to possibly see the acquisition to a closure by early 2014.

Nokia-handsets-495x303

Microsoft bets on Nokia for its formidable patents and the hardware edge that Nokia brinsg to the table. Microsoft’s attempts at making its own device (Surface & Surface RT) have been less then spectacular given the $900million write off for last year.

My take on the take over – (It hasnt changed over the past 4 years)
Both Nokia and Microsoft really missed the boat in terms of smartphones, and it is extremely difficult to claw your way back from that. The question is whether combining two weak companies will get you a strong new competitor. It’s doubtful.

Has Nokia staged its comeback?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 8, 2012

Continued from an earlier post

The Nokia Lumia has a lot of small details .From a device perspective, the key is that  lots of these small details add up to a holistic experience that creates aspiration. However, what ultimately sells is a collection of details properly integrated into a whole experience which needs a complete end to end eco-system integration. That could be a concern for Nokia given the Amazon and Apple strategies of putting their eco-systems as points of differentiation as against just the devices.

Being from the Nokia stable, there is little doubt these devices will stand out from the crowd in terms of hardware which will help the extra delta at retail.  A quick look at whats in offer from Nokia –

The Nokia City lens Augmented reality app

  1. Nokia Maps is  refreshed to include an add-on functionality is that of Offline availability. This is not the usual cached units, but a true offline feature which is important for data conservation. To top it, it has free turn by turn voice navigation.
  2. Nokia Maps also gets augmented reality.  The Nokia City Lens is pretty slick in delivering augmented reality in what’s useful and not just a gimmicky manner. In scheme of things of  Nokia’s business as a whole, Maps will be a big revenue driver going forward on top of a differentiator on their devices and City lens can be an important enabler in terms of the AR browser to provide a simple, fluid and intuitive experience to the user . Nokia location platform is now a core part of the WP8 platform
  3. The new Lumia range will support NFC with the only drawback that it connects only to other Windows devices. NFC plays music by placing it on the speakers.
  4. Glove dial is another good to have app which allows the capacitive screen to respond to touch by elements other than the human hands – for instance gloves.
  5. A first in the industry which was supposed to be Apple’s thunder is stolen by Nokia as it premiers the Wireless charging across the board. This is actually a new meaning to the term – Power Nap and the wireless charging keeps the battery topped off. Nokia has partnered the Fatboy recharge pillow such that the phone left on this recharging pad will top up the battery charge. Interestingly enough, even before its launch, Nokia has eco-system partnerships to promote its wireless charging feature through Virgin in its Heathrow Airport lounge, and Coffee Bean on its countertops using the wireless power consortium standard
  6. There is also an awful lot that has been integrated into the camera space
    1. Pure view on the new range of Lumia phones is more than a Megapixel count. SO there’s no point in getting misled by a 8MP count on the camera. The Pure View captures between 5-10x the light of any other camera in a phone and easily surpasses image stabilization of most DSLRs. The Floating lens technology used is used to stabilize the lens for HD video stabilization as well.
    2. Cinemagraph which essentially adds a video experience on a still photo. A hybrid between the still and video – it also allows frames customization.
    3. The Smart Shoot feature allows to get rid of unwanted parts of an image automatically.
    4. Nokia integrates the Photosynth augmented reality app too create a hyperlink navigated real time picture of the world indexed by photographs in the web. Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-Dimensional space. Now that once done is a WOW!

The Microsoft Photosynth feature

The Nokia Cinemagraph feature

The Nokia fatboy Recharge pillow

The message through the launch event of Lumia is loud and clear -Nokia ecosystem is growing and Nokia has a direction. Music, Navigation and Imaging are the Nokia mantras – as Nokia delves deep into the consumer psyche of why and how the phones are used. While the absence of a launch date and pricing are huge dampeners, the new direction that the Nokia-Windows partnership is taking is pretty interesting.

The only problem remains is that Apple’ event scheduled for 12th September may  see an immediate launch – and the absence of Nokia for the next 2 months will mean that the iPhone5 will take all the shelf space, operator space and consumer space – leaving Nokia out to fight its way back. But so far – it’s a new direction for Nokia and personally I am glad that Nokia-Windows seems to be putting a spirited comeback. The only silent fellow in this interim is Android which seems to be fast fading and loosing its colors.

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Nokia’s second coming – The Lumia!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 6, 2012

Too often technology is being used to protect old business models rather than unlock new ones. Fortunately for Nokia, it seems to have broken this paradigm as it embarks on a slow climb upward from it Symbian to Microsoft Windows 8 OS. O 5th Septmebre 2012, Nokia went to show the first Windows 8 devices for the record. The event tagline – SwitchtoLumia is very apt, timely and relevant as RIM & some Android users are looking for something different. Unboutedly, iPhone5 will pick up many of the BB/Android dissenters, but the latest Lumia launches by Nokia, gives it a chance – its real one in over 3-4 years.

The success story has rolled over from devices to platform and now on to eco-systems. Devices and apps are only a part of the story. Nokia’s latest efforts with Lumia has shown that it is focusing on the right thing: owning up eco-system and improving service delivery user-experience. Apple still has the big marketing edge as long as it’s the only company to consistently do this and owns end to end delivering the experience – it’s what happens when you control the end to end experience… it does matter. But the good part for Nokia and Microsoft is that they have made a start. Unlike iPhone and iPad, no single product shall define this approach for Nokia/Microsoft –

The good thing for the Nokia- Microsoft duo is that no one will ever confuse Windows Phone with Android or iOS. The challenge is can Nokia and Microsoft explain how different is better. Nokia’s second challenge is to differentiate Nokia devices from other Windows Phones. Samsung has already tried one-upp’ing Nokia by pre-announcing the ACTIV S 5 days before Nokia announced the Lumias.

Nokia has clearly raised the bar in terms of core hardware features. Visible differentiation is there in terms of the device look, finish and feel. On the positioning front, Nokia is betting big on Imaging,Music and Location as core differentiators that can drive adoption. WP8 is the enabler but getting the eco-system to ride on the top and provide key differentials is what’s going to differentiate these devices versus the Android Army. Thats a hell of a ask, with the number of partners involved and the fact that everyone needs to be in sync.

Lumia – the proposition list

Lumia fails to ignite sales for Nokia

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on January 1, 2012

Ever since February 2011 and the “Burning Platform” memo from Stephen Elop, customers, tech geeks and consumers have awaited Nokia’s Windows Phone with baited breath. So then, Lumia was the prodigy even before it went to the drawing boards and there is a lot that rests on Lumia’s success for Nokia which in an year’s time has fallen from No.1 to No.3 in the smartphone race ceding its leadership to Apple and Samsung. Nokia’s Symbian smartphone market share declined from 36% in Q3 2010 to 17% in Q3 2011 in the smartphone operating system market while Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 market share declined from 2.7% to 1.5% during the same period.

However things do not turn around that easy when you are on a downward trend with competitors galore and the competition is getting fierce every passing day. One has to put in more efforts that is required when there is a uphill task, but Nokia with Lumia did not give that impression. To woo the customers and bring back the loyal followers, a company like Nokia should have brought some uniqueness to the table but both the devices of the Lumia series do not give the customer anything significant, it does not make the customer feel special. Price of a product and more importantly value for money has and will always be the deciding factor to go for a product. But in the case of Lumia, Nokia fails to fulfill any.


Neither in terms of features nor in terms of price, Nokia Lumia could woo the customers.
• Lumia 800 features a 3.7 inch display-leading Android models moved to 4 to 4.5 inch display size some time ago
• Lumia 800 features pixel density of 250 ppi-about 80 below where new Apple, Samsung and, HTC models are
• Lumia 800 is 12 mm thick-about 40-70% thicker than the new wave of smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and Motorola
• Lumia 800 features only a single-core processor vs the dual-core chips from rival high-end smartphones
• Lumia 800 does not feature front-facing cameras or NFC technology, which is now arriving to cutting-edge Android models

No doubt, the Nokia Lumia is a great phone as appeared from the preliminary use and at par with the smartphones availability in the market in that price range of around Rs 30,000. Nokia can claim that if one can buy a smartphone at that price from a different vendor then why not from us? Well, the credibility of Windows phone comes as a big dampener. Nokia does not have to prove a point, it has been the leader so far but Microsoft’s mobile OS have never been a success when compared to the acceptance of Apple or Android OS. So, the customers would hesitate couple of times before putting $600 for a device that is as new as now, rather they would prefer to go for a product that is tested.

So, the big question for Nokia is how to drag those prospective customers for a Lumia experience. Nokia has to think out-of-the-box as well as put some more features in the device that is there in the box to get some new attention. Typically, you run twice faster to catch up if you have missed a single step in the race.

Bottomline: If Nokia were to regain its earlier halo in smart-phone space, it would be refuting a trend where a technology major who dominated the market at one point made a strong comeback after falling out of the market. Such comebacks are rare in Technology and mobility space. SO good luck Nokia!

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