It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform hasn’t exactly set the market alight. Despite overwhelming positivity in the majority of its media coverage, and a great deal of satisfaction and evangelism among those users that have made the switch, it has so far struggled to gain much traction in the marketplace, even as iPhones and Android handsets continue to fly off the shelves.
Nokia’s Windows Phones may well change that story. In a massive explosion of publicity, Nokia has been flooding key markets with exposure to its new Lumia devices, the first of which, the 800, has been on sale for several weeks; its cheaper sibling, the Lumia 710, officially went on sale a few days ago, and will soon make its way to other markets, including the US.
So far, though, we’ve seen no official figures from Nokia on how its Lumia 800 handset is performing in the market, which makes it all the more fascinating to hear comments such as those made by Nokia’s Nieks Munksgaard, Director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales, Nokia Entertainment Global.
Munksgaard spoke to Pocket-lint in remarkably bullish terms about the state of the marketplace, and what he believes Nokia’s arrival and its product plan represents. Calling the current marketplace a “sea of sameness”, he explained: “When you walk up to a retail shelf at Phones 4U and see the number of black mono-blocks sitting on the shelf, it is very confusing to the consumer. We want to deliver services and phones that are different.”
Munksgaard believes that there’s trouble in paradise for rival platforms and their apparently indistinct mono-blocks. When it comes to Apple, he asserts that its great popularity may in fact be a weakness: “What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone.” These comments may sound deluded, but they also echo similar sentiments voiced by HTC America’s Martin Fichter, who said in September that “iPhones are not cool anymore… our kids don’t find them that cool anymore.”indistinct mono-blocks.
Perhaps that’s true, but the fact remains that Apple’s iPhone is selling in greater numbers than ever before. Look closely at the figures though, and you’ll see that it’s losing market share overall despite its sales growth, but this is because of the extraordinary growth of the Android platform. Nevertheless, Munksgaard believes that young people are turning away from Android too: “Many are not happy with the complexity of Android, and the lack of security,” he explains.
Perhaps he’s seeing different figures to the rest of us, because Android growth seems to show few signs of slowing, but he remains confident on this: “We do increasingly see that the youth that wants to be on the cutting edge and try something new are turning to the Windows Phone platform.”
That’s some pretty gutsy talk right there. Whether or not it’s supported by the company’s sales figures over the next few weeks and months - and as new devices like the Lumia 800 4G and Lumia 900 arrive - remains to be seen but it’s good to see Nokia taking the fight to its rivals.
While Nokia’s hardware design has won it many fans, its software and services differentiation has been a mixed bag so far. It is making available its Nokia Maps product to other Windows Phones (albeit minus the Nokia-exclusive navigation features), although its Nokia Music features offer a genuinely appealing added-value proposition for its handsets, which Munksgaard believes is key to the company’s ability to distinguish itself from its rivals. He also added that it “is in [Nokia’s] interest to broaden the coverage of where you can get Nokia Mix Radio”, for example – but whether this means a desktop client is on the way, or that an app will be made available for other Windows Phones, remains to be seen.
Munksgaard confirmed that the company is keen to diversify its own ecosystem with new hardware accessories too, stating that Nokia would “prefer a wireless transfer than a docking station; a docking station has limitations because the phone has to be in a certain place”. However, he also asserts that “as the Windows Phone ecosystem grows, third party docking station makers will support us”.
The rich diversity of compatible accessories is certainly part of what fuels the popularity of devices on rival platforms. The iPhone is supported by a seemingly infinite range of docks, speakers, fitness monitors and other bits and bobs which expand the functionality offered by the handset. Many Android handsets are supported by add-on devices too, from desktop cradles and docks to other unusual trappings, like the illumination ‘charm’ on HTC’s Rhyme.
Fans of the Windows Phone platform will surely be hoping that the ecosystem does indeed grow in the way that Munksgaard hopes, opening up a broader range of accessories, as well as the new phone hardware that everyone craves, and the new software and services that Nokia promises to bring to the table with its devices.
Images via Nokia