Today Nokia announced the biggest kept non-secret in the phone world, the company’s first Android handset, the Nokia X. Alongside that announcement was another equally as important, which signals that the beleaguered giant could actually be setting out to fight back properly in the mobile phone wars.
The Nokia 220 range is the long awaited replacement for the Series 4 ultra low budget phones which used to dominate the developing world market until the rise of Android started to eat chunks of Nokia’s market share. Today, the company has implicitly stated that it wants that share back, thanks very much.
Now despite the sneers of the media, Nokia is still a much loved brand around the world, mostly because people fondly remember the outstanding build quality and excellent pricing of Nokia phones. The fact that Android has stolen a lot of people away doesn’t mean they don’t still love the brand, it’s just that Nokias stopped being great value for money.
With the launch of this new ultra low priced dual SIM handset, this may have just changed. With an entry price of around €29 this phone suddenly looks very competitive against the Chinese offerings, and the specification is solid too. A 2.4 inch color screen, 24 day standby, 2 megapixel camera and 32 GB microSD card support plus gaming, Twitter/Facebook and MP3 audio really does speak to those who want a good set of features for the least money possible.
Compare this to the €16.48 MySaga phone from China, for example, and you can see how this is going to turn out to be a very interesting tussle. The difference of €17 between the two phones is easily explained away, since the cheaper handset has a 1.4 inch screen, a 0.8 megapixel camera, only a 2 to 4 day standby and microSD only up to 8GB. This is a totally inferior beast altogether, not even counting the Nokia brand reputation.
So is it enough for Nokia to claw back the crown as the world’s most successful phone manufacturer? Well this is as much a test of the new Microsoft leadership as it is of Nokia’s abilities. The fact that the Redmond giant has at last embraced the inevitable and allowed Android onto its handsets speaks volumes for how the future might play out.
The fact is, Nokia with Windows alone was going nowhere fast, and so drastic steps had to be taken. Now we’ll have to see whether the Nokia/Microsoft partnership can build on that and win back the hearts and minds of Nokia fans the world over. One factor which could be pivotal is the engagement of Skype in the equation.
The new Nokia X comes with one month of free worldwide calls via Skype Out calls to landlines and mobiles, which could herald the start of a new marketing offensive on the price of mobile calls. Total call volumes may have been falling in general, but that doesn’t mean Nokia couldn’t use the Skype leverage to dig a tunnel under the present market leaders by making its Android/low priced calls combination too compelling.
It’s early days, but we’ll be watching to see what the new management team in Redmond do, now they’ve taken the icy plunge into the shark infested Android waters. They’ve got the brand, the technology and the financial muscle to tear into the market in a massive way, and if it was any company other than Microsoft you’d have to give them odds on to succeed.
But history has shown that when it comes to execution, Microsoft generally doesn’t quite get ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is. Maybe the new regime will change all that, and we’ll see a new beginning where it exhibits sure footed competence where it counts, especially against rivals like Google which typically executes its strategies like a Terminator. Or maybe it will be more of the MS bumbling and stumbling?
Grab some popcorn, because things could get interesting.