The Nokia Lumia 1020 launch in New York
on Thursday was a surprising affair. You could have mistaken it for a Nikon or Canon event, for throughout the show Nokia CEO Stephen Elop kept talking only about megapixels, low-light shooting capabilities and lenses.
Actually, the new Lumia 1020 is more about the camera and less about the phone.
It was a couple of years ago that Elop made his company change course and start focusing on some core areas
, the most important being the commitment to partner Microsoft and its Windows Phone operating system. The other, though unstated, seems to have been to become the primary camera phone manufacturer in the world. And two years on, the Finnish phone maker seems to have stuck to both these commitments.
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Over the past couple of years, the company has been pushing the envelope as far as the camera in the phone is concerned.
Putting the Lumia 1020 to test at Nokia's launch event in New York on July 11. PHOTO - press.nokia.com
The Nokia 808 Pureview brought
a 41 megapixel camera to a phone that was running its old, and written off, Symbian operating system. The Lumia 1020 tries to bring the great camera technology of the 808 to the latest Windows Phone 8 platform, complete with a better sensor and external apps.
But it remains to be seen if this is the game changer that Nokia has been waiting for.
Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice says Nokia needs a breakthrough to make it in the smartphones market. "However, products such as the Lumia 1020 are not breakthrough offerings. These can help in catching the attention of potential buyers, but not the market share," he says.
In India, one of its primary markets, Nokia is still number one in overall phone sales
with above 20 per cent share, according to CMR's India Monthly Mobile Handsets Market Review, April 2013, released in early July. But the same report shows that Nokia is not in the top three as far as smartphones are concerned. Its arch rival Samsung is on top of this list with a whopping 40.7 per cent market share, followed by Micromax with 19.3 per cent and Karbonn with 8.9 per cent. Nokia's share is just 5.6 per cent in the same time period. IN PICTURES: Top 5 smartphones priced under Rs 20,000
That is the wall Nokia is up against in this space.
But Vipul Mehrotra, Nokia's director for smart devices, India, Middle East and Africa, seems to suggest the company is prepared for the long haul.
"We finished Q2 with a remarkable progress in India
. All five models have been clicking. The Lumia 520 has been a huge success as it has brought Windows Phone 8 to affordable price points," he told Business Today. This particular model has been creating a network effect and introducing Windows Phone to a lot of people, he said. "The Lumia 502 has been a good catalyst for us."
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop introduces the Lumia 1020 in New York on July 11. PHOTO - press.nokia.com
The Lumia 1020 is still a long way away for India.
Nokia's next for the country will be the Lumia 925
, which is expected to be launched in the coming weeks. Mehrotra says they are not really looking at running behind the competition now. "It is more about increasing the Lumia portfolio. Remember, we started from scratch. Our focus is on getting Lumia in as many phones as possible," he adds.
As Android keeps consolidating its position as the top operating system globally, the Windows Phone has clawed itself into the third position, above BlackBerry. Though just 2.7 per cent share of the global market in 2012, according to analyst firm Canalys, this is a significant number for Nokia which is the primary Windows Phone 8 player with other manufacturers slowly losing interest.
To put this in perspective, Canalys expects Windows Phone to be number three even in 2017 with a projected 12.7 per cent share. That is a year when the firm expects over a billion smartphones to be sold globally. That is the long haul that Nokia has geared up for. IN PICTURES: Top 5 dual-sim smartphones in the market
"For us it is important that others participate in it. We can only get scale when others are also in the game," says Mehrotra, adding that he would welcome more OEMs, though we would also like a majority share of the market.
Nokia's aim is to be on top of the "Windows Phone consideration set" and that is not such a tough ask at the moment with hardly any other player pushing their Windows Phone range.
Kawoosa thinks the biggest challenge is the acceptance of Windows OS for the mobile phone platform. "I think Nokia should bank on the enterprise mobility trend as it can uniquely offer a ubiquitous 'Windows' experience in the enterprise domain across devices - desktop PCs, laptop PCs, Tablets and smartphones. This is a distinct advantage and barring Apple, no other OS can offer this in the current time frame," he says.
Nokia and strategic partner Microsoft, Kawoosa says, must come out with solutions for each of the major industry segments and then push for the solution as an ecosystem across devices using Windows OS.
If Nokia can sustain its dominant position in Windows Phone category and its partnership with Microsoft for five years, then may be its gamble would pay off.