Rising from the ashes
A brand you once loved and had almost written off is planning a return to form. Will it work? It sells a million phones a day, it’s still Number One in many countries and more people have owned a phone from this company than any other electronic device, ever.brunch Updated: Sep 29, 2012 18:49 IST
It sells a million phones a day, it’s still Number One in many countries and more people have owned a phone from this company than any other electronic device, ever. And this former World Number One has had the most turbulent 24 months than any company in the history of technology.
Most people wrote it off, many analysts predicted the demise of the whole company by mid-2012 and fantastic new rumours of it being sold to a rival or being split up and sold in small pieces come up every Monday morning. Welcome to the fascinating world of Nokia!
The Harder you Fall
For Nokia, the brand new Lumia phones were supposed to be its saviour. The gamble on Windows as the all-new operating system was supposed to pay off and the might of Microsoft and Nokia was supposed to have dominated the feature phone market and obliterate the competition in the smartphone category. That didn’t happen. Not by a long shot. The stock price tanked, thousands of jobs were lost, factories and offices were shut down, losses mounted into the billions, sales constantly missed targets and overall Nokia was completely written off. The death knell had been sounded.
A Glimmer of Hope
Then came the first piece of good news. Nokia Lumia phones sold more than four million units in a single quarter. That was twice the previous quarter and far higher than most analyst estimates. Further good news: its Asha series of feature phones were a
runaway hit. And to top it off, the Pureview phone established Nokia back on top as an innovation and technology leader. Could the Nokia resurgence have begun?
That would depend on the new Lumia phones announced in New York a few days ago. While the announcement was typical of Nokia (no price, no release dates and no country availability), the product line is anything but. On these two phones lie the resurgence of an entire company. Nokia has done this for two years. They’ve taken out quite a few Lumia phones since the first one, they know what worked and what didn’t, they have the technological know-how, they’ve got the marketing and distribution muscle and they’ve got Windows 8. No excuses, no beta testing, no more mistakes. If they didn’t get it right now, this Finnish Giant was literally finished!
Stephen Elop, the Nokia CEO, held up one of the phones and announced, “The Lumia 920 is the world’s most innovativesmartphone”.
That is a big claim; but one that is much needed. For Nokia to have a fighting chance, they need to shake things up. No namby pamby word play, no politically correct sweet talk. It’s time for Nokia to hit sledgehammer hard! So what have they got and is it enough?
The Lumia 920 is a phone that carries on the legacy of the 900 with a polycarbonate unibody design (solid, if a little heavy), and fits in the hand very well. The 4.5-inch PureMotion HD+ display is quite a revelation. This is a retina-plus-plus screen with a resolution of 1280x768 with 336 pixels crammed into each inch. It can work very well outdoors and in bright light and has a very good touchscreen on it.
The device is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, has 1GB of RAM, 32GB of NFC (near field communication) and 4G LTE (long term evolution). A 2000mAh battery tops out the specs, but the kicker lies in the fact that it has wireless charging, which really is the game changer. Nokia throws in offline maps and directions as well as CityLense, which is fast becoming a favourite. Optics is where this phone really shines. The 8.7 megapixel camera is touted as having PureView technology, a floating lens for image stabilisation, Carl Zeiss optics and is capable of recording videos at 1080p HD. Startling body colour options like yellow and red round off a very well-made phone. The 820 also has some great specs and is a more economical but slightly lower featured version of the 920.
A Gigantic Task
So is this enough then? Remember, it’s not just about having a good phone. Nokia needs to do enough to wrestle customers away from iconic runaway bestseller companies like Apple and Samsung, hit hard enough to make people move from entrenched operating systems like iOS and Android and pick up people moving away from BlackBerry. You don’t get people to migrate by doing a ‘slightly’ better phone. You have to give them not one but several compelling reasons to do so. Are the new Lumias strong enough to do that? On paper, the answer is a resounding yes. The Lumia 920 is one of the strongest phones in its category. If the specs and features it exudes on paper translate to real sales, then you could be looking at the all-new champion of smartphones. A phone that literally may make Nokia rise from the ashes.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, CellGuru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com /RajivMakhni
From HT Brunch, September 30
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