Nokia Windows Phones: this is just the beginning

While reactions to Nokia’s first Windows Phones have been cautiously positive, the company is keen to emphasise that today’s announcements don’t represent the peak of its achievements. In fact, they say, Nokia is only just getting started.

It’s fair to say that, while many people were impressed today by the stylish Lumia 800 (although perhaps a little unexcited by the slightly frumpier Lumia 710), most observers were expecting more from today’s announcement – such as the elusive third device (the ‘Ace’), or some deeper and more substantial customisations of the Windows Phone OS.

But while allowing ourselves to acknowledge perhaps just a smudge of disappointment, we can draw comfort from the words of Niklas Savander, one of Nokia’s executive vice-presidents, who spoke with TechRadar to shine a bit more light on how the company plans to improve its Windows Phones further.

Fragmentation: Nokia feels it has a key role to play in preventing the fragmentation of the Windows Phone platform, and for now at least, this seems to be influencing (perhaps even limiting) the way it designs its hardware. Savander stated: “We have a contractual agreement with Microsoft for a certain amount of engineering we can use for differentiation. However, we have to be very careful on how we use that one, because we cannot fragment the developer ecosystem. If that starts forking, that’s not useful at all.”

So, it looks like Nokia has the freedom to push its hardware a bit further than other OEMs such as HTC, Samsung and LG – but it’s holding back on exercising that right, for now at least.

Differentiating: Despite not furnishing its devices with superlative hardware specs, Nokia believes it can still make its devices stand out in other areas. Savander noted: “The areas we can drive are design, navigation, imaging, and there are many things we can do around how the product reaches the consumer.” He also acknowledged that “two phones is absolutely not enough in the market… there are new markets we need to conquer”, suggesting that Nokia will also seek to differentiate by targeting devices for specific demographics and markets.

What comes next: In a remarkable contrast to all that we’ve heard previously about Nokia’s extraordinary freedom to manipulate and influence Windows Phone, Savander openly acknowledges that Nokia’s impact on the OS itself has been limited, a reality of the timing of the announcement and the race to get the products to market in 2011: “We made the decision to go to Windows Phone when Mango was pretty much done, so we were able to impact some elements of it…” – the implication clearly being that, had there been more time, Nokia would done a good deal more.

But the juiciest information comes in what Savander says next: “But you’ll really see the fruits of what we can do with Microsoft when the Apollo version of Windows Phone comes out.”  'Apollo' is the internal development codename for Windows Phone 8 (which is also expected to have more than a few things in common with the desktop Windows 8 OS).  

With Nokia being closely involved with development of the OS from a much earlier stage than they were with Mango, the company’s influence on Windows Phone development will undoubtedly be much greater. This will clearly allow them much greater control over differentiating their offering without fragmenting the entire ecosystem… and that’s a very exciting prospect.

Nokia’s announcement today may not have blown everybody away – but it was never going to win the battle for smartphone supremacy with its first big reveal. Nokia and Windows Phone are clearly in this for the long-haul, and what was revealed today was just the beginning.

The best, it seems, is yet to come.

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daniel_rh said,
I wouldn't count with that, maybe the next update but WP8... Hmmmm...
If Microsoft does not update a year-old phone, then they have no argument against questionable version support and fragmentation of Android. Realistically, day-one phones should be getting the update too unless there is a very compelling reason, and I doubt that there will be.

WP7 said,
I wonder if wp8 will be available on the lumia 800...¿¿ If it is, then I will get a lumia 800 asap. I already own an omnia 7.
It should do. I hope for my mozart to get the next update (minor) and then the next major one next year, that'll be exactly two years support. Hopefully, they will prolong the life longer seeing as WP7 doesnt need super high specs anyway...

pickypg said,
If Microsoft does not update a year-old phone, then they have no argument against questionable version support and fragmentation of Android. Realistically, day-one phones should be getting the update too unless there is a very compelling reason, and I doubt that there will be.

they already updated year old phones to mango. shows how much u know.

elcapo24682 said,

they already updated year old phones to mango. shows how much u know.

That's probably because the hardware hasn't changed. Once the specs start changing, fragmentation to some degree is inevitable.

WP7 said,
I wonder if wp8 will be available on the lumia 800...¿¿ If it is, then I will get a lumia 800 asap. I already own an omnia 7.

I'm pretty sure every device will be upgradeable to WP8. After Windows 7 they said their goal going forward was to never have to increase the min system requirements, for future versions. In fact, if it's possible, they will lower them. I wouldn't be surprised if they plan to do the same with Windows Phone.

If they can't get it on these current phones, that means they've bloated the OS which would be a huge fail.

daniel_rh said,

I wouldn't count with that, maybe the next update but WP8... Hmmmm...

WP8 (Apollo) is the next update (asside from Tango which isn't much of an update at all). My guess is all the existing phones will be upgradable to WP8, they just won't be able to utilize all of the features due to hardware limitations (e.g. they'll add support for dual and quad core processors, LTE, front-facing cameras, NFC, etc. but the Lumia line doesn't contain any of those innards)

The US market, while big, is obviously and justifiably not the first thing that concerns Nokia right now. They are much more intersted in the vastly larger emerging markets where they already have a strong presence so it's 'easier' to extend their range their and get much higher sales from it. This strategy was clearly layed out in the keynote and is IMO very smart.. Why fight a costly battle when you can walk into a bigger territory without much hassle.

paulheu said,
The US market, while big, is obviously and justifiably not the first thing that concerns Nokia right now. They are much more intersted in the vastly larger emerging markets where they already have a strong presence so it's 'easier' to extend their range their and get much higher sales from it. This strategy was clearly layed out in the keynote and is IMO very smart.. Why fight a costly battle when you can walk into a bigger territory without much hassle.

It sounds more like they're waiting so they can approach the US market the right way. They said the Lumia line isn't coming here. My guess is they're planning to hit the US with much better devices, because - lets be honest - while the 800 has a great design, its no different than the Samsung Focus. Im expecting a larger device (+4") with a F-F camera, NFC, and possibly some other surprises. I just wish they gave us a sneak peek at Nokia World.

mdtaUK said,
3.7 inch screen is a tough sell for me, my Omnia 7 has 4, and I was hoping for a 4.3 Nokia phone with AMOLED

You and me both, Martin. *sigh* I was rather looking forward to treating myself to that.

The Titan doesn't appeal much. I love a big screen, but the S-LCD is such a step down after the S-AMOLED. I also think that WVGA resolution looks fairly ridiculous on such a massive screen.

Shame Samsung doesn't seem to be bringing anything but the lacklustre Omnia W to Europe this side of Christmas. That's got a 3.7" display too - and is very similar to the Omnia 7 in many ways (especially in the looks department).

I guess our Omnias will just have to soldier on a little longer.

gcaw said,

You and me both, Martin. *sigh* I was rather looking forward to treating myself to that.

The Titan doesn't appeal much. I love a big screen, but the S-LCD is such a step down after the S-AMOLED. I also think that WVGA resolution looks fairly ridiculous on such a massive screen.

Shame Samsung doesn't seem to be bringing anything but the lacklustre Omnia W to Europe this side of Christmas. That's got a 3.7" display too - and is very similar to the Omnia 7 in many ways (especially in the looks department).

I guess our Omnias will just have to soldier on a little longer.

it doesn't look ridiculous at all in fact the screens on the titan and radar looked on par if not better than the Omnia. plus did 800x600 look ridiculous on monitors that were bigger than these phones? they did not so don't be ridiculous.

We're not talking purely about resolution versus screen size. We're talking about the content that is displayed on screens of that size at a fixed resolution.

No, large UI components and big Word pages and Excel spreadsheets did not look ridiculous on 15" CRTs at SVGA resolution, because both screen sizes and resolutions on monitors had improved and increased at a roughly similar rate. Generally, therefore, you wouldn't experience buttons or text suddenly jumping in size, as these elements stayed roughly the same size (relatively speaking) as resolutions increased with increases in display size.

That's precisely what *isn't* happening here. This is an example of display size increasing without a corresponding increase in resolution, and so UI elements that one has become adjusted to in the 3.5"-4" display range suddenly become much bigger when the screen size is increased by 20-30% with no corresponding increase in resolution.

As a result, the tiles that previously seemed like a sensible size become huge and the text appears unnecessarily oversized on a screen of those dimensions with a resolution that low. I'm not the only person to point this out - check out some of the many, many product reviews of the Titan that highlight this fact, and that share the same opinion as mine.

Of course, you're entitled to your opinion, even if you don't present it or support it particularly well, but I'd be grateful if you would kindly respect my opinion too.

No front facing camera on the high-end device... I think Nokia dropped the ball abit here...

I personally wont be getting one due to the size... If it was 4" i would have considered... But ill seek out an upgrade to my 4.3" HD7...

brent3000 said,
No front facing camera on the high-end device... I think Nokia dropped the ball abit here...

Out of curiosity: How often do you use the front facing camera on your phone?

MFH said,

Out of curiosity: How often do you use the front facing camera on your phone?

Until very recently no-one ever used the front facing camera but now there is TANGO and so now you can do a VIDEO CALL !!! Do we really need it ??who knows !! But did we need the windows os on a mobile phone??? Now we do !!

I suggest that you have a closer look, I went to Nokias UK site and the fFacing camera is there its just hard to see through the display.

The Nokia UK Site refers to the "Main Camera" they would not call it the "Main" camera if there was only the one on the back now would they ??

Have a look at the Nokia E6 specs page - http://www.nokia.co.uk/gb-en/p...phone/e6-00/specifications/. Note that at the top, under 'Camera', it states "8MP plus secondary camera for video calls"; mention of a secondary camera is absent from the Lumia 800 specs page.

Also on the E6 page, click to open the Photography drawer to see those specs. Note that on the right, it gives details of the secondary camera alongside the 'Main' camera. Details of the secondary camera are missing on the 800 page. Clearly 'Main' camera is just the template term for the primary/only camera included on the device.

Plenty of people have seen this device, picked it up, taken photos of it, recorded video of it, and asked Nokia questions about it - and they've all confirmed that there's no front-facing camera.

What you think you're identifying as the camera is likely the proximity and light sensors.

It better be the beginning because that Nokia Lumia 800 is nothing spectacular. Only 512 MB RAM, no front facing camera, no full-HD video recording, only 1450 mAh battery, no NFC, in general - the specs are worse even than their N9. Is this really NOKIA's flagship WP7 model they worked on for so long? And the price is higher than Samsung Galaxy S2! I really wanted some high-end WP7.5 device comparable to SGS2 but unfortunately there's nothing there.

Even if this is "the beginning" I'm wondering if people will be patient enough to wait for another devices.

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