It’s been a traumatic few years for Nokia. After seeing their seemingly invincible phone market share savaged by Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, many observers saw the company as being in terminal decline. Perhaps the lowest point was the recent announcement that Nokia’s phones business is to be sold to Microsoft. So is it game over?
Apparently not. Far from disappearing into a Blackberry-like oblivion, Nokia’s Lumia smartphones have gradually been gaining momentum, particularly in Europe. For sure the brand is struggling in the USA against the iPhone, but the truth of the matter is that Nokia has never been successful states-side, even in the glory years. It’s sometimes easy to forget how quickly things can turn around. Consider for example that the T-Mobile G1, the first popular Google Android phone, was only launched in 2008, and the first iPhone in 2007. Both of these took a while to build mass market momentum.
The blame for Nokia’s slow recovery to date can arguably be laid at Microsoft’s door. Windows Phone simply has not quite caught the popular imagination in the same way that iOS and Android have. Nokia’s great strength in hardware is widely praised, yet lacks a truly comprehensive content ecosystem. Now that Microsoft is taking full control we can surely expect this will eventually change, but what happens in the meantime?
Today Nokia demonstrated that – from a hardware perspective at least – there’s still plenty to take notice about, with a slew of new products added to the Lumia line-up.
Firstly, there’s their first ever Windows-based tablet: the colorful Lumia 2520. It’s a bold (or crazy?) manufacturer who announces a tablet on the same day that Apple is due to unveil their latest iPads, however first impressions of the 2520 seem positive: thin, light, great screen, excellent build quality and feel. Yes, the presence of Windows 8 RT vs Windows 8 Professional casts an immediate presumed shadow over the product, due to the failure of Microsoft’s own RT-based Surface device, however at just $499 and including Microsoft Office, it offers a lot for less than an equivalent-spec iPad.
Nokia also announced two new large-screen smartphones: the premium 1520 and budget 1320. Both pack a 6″ screen (Full HD 1080p for the 1520, 720p for the 1320), cameras front and back (20 megapixel rear camera on the 1520), and Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8.1 mobile OS. With the 1320 available for a mere $339 without mobile contract, it’s surely going to be a great option for the cost-conscious.
Will the new products succeed? There’s no denying that Nokia still produce fantastic hardware that looks and feels great. The question of their future success however surely rests with their prospective new owners who will need to deliver a Windows ecosystem that is fully competitive with Apple and Google. It’s certainly not too late to do so, however sooner or later they will need to deliver more.
For us, we are fans of Nokia and Windows Phone and looking forward to running CoPilot in full HD on the new Lumia 1520. We don’t currently support Windows RT, however we’ll be keeping a close eye on the fortunes of the 2520 tablet too.