Can Nokia Win the Smartphone Battle With Windows Phone 8?

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Can Nokia Win the Smartphone Battle With Windows Phone 8?

Today, October 29, Microsoft has set the stage to officially release its Windows Phone 8 OS following the successful launch of the Windows 8 and Surface tablet on October 25, 2012 at the Surface Reception event.

With the release of the Windows Phone 8 OS, the hardware partners of Microsoft including Nokia, HTC and Samsung, who are ready with their WP8 based smartphones will release them into the market as early as the first week of November.

Coming to Nokia, the prominent Windows Phone manufacturer with its Lumia series smartphones, though Nokia was the top handset maker in the world for about 14 years, it failed to perform in the smartphone race with Apple in 2007 as the Cupertino based firm released the first ever magnificent iPhone.

Following this failure, Nokia faced a lot of issues including plant closures, shrinking sales, layoffs and more. The Finnish handset vendor released its Q3 sales, which showed a loss of $754 million in that period including a drop in the sales of the Lumia smartphones by 1.1 million from that in Q2. Hence, the upcoming Lumia smartphones – Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 are required to help Nokia make scoring sales.

The main reason for the slump in the existing Lumia smartphones is because these Windows Phone 7 handsets cannot be upgraded to Windows 8, which is the latest version with many new features that can offer an all new user experience.

Though Nokia released Lumia 610, which the cheapest Windows Phone handset then, it experienced a loss of 1.1 million in sales as consumers knew that Windows 8 will be released in a couple of months.

"Retailers withdrew marketing and promotion because no one wants to sell customers a device that ages in a few months," says Michael Schroeder, analyst at FIM Bank in Helsinki.

"Had there been a seamless transfer to Windows 8 from the old (Lumia) devices, sales figures would have been much higher last quarter."

Analysts and tech experts across the world refer to the release of Windows Phone 8 as the make-or-break moment for Nokia.

Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics was quoted stating, "Nokia is placing a huge bet on Microsoft and if the gamble doesn't pay off, the losses can be high. It's putting all its eggs in one basket and that's quite a high-risk strategy."

"If Nokia does not have more than 5 percent of the global smartphone market by the end of the first quarter 2013, alarm bells will be ringing," Mawston said.

In February 2011, Nokia announced that it will team up with Microsoft to replace the Symbian and MeeGo platforms with Windows Phone OS. This act was an attempt by the company to cling back to the lost battle.

The upcoming Windows Phone 8 handsets – Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 have groundbreaking features including wireless charging, NFC and glove-friendly touchscreen display have the potential to knock off the sales records. However, Schroeder claims that "We're a bit in the dark here. Right now we can't really say anything about Nokia's future. Everything depends on how the new devices are received in the market."

When it comes to Windows Phone 8 as compared to Google's Android and Apple's iOS 6, the Microsoft OS lags behind in terms of number of third party applications with only 1 million apps, while the others have six to seven million apps.

However, Nokia recently released the Lumia 510 which will hit the retail shelves in India in the first week of November with a price tag of Rs 11,000. With such low priced smartphones that can compete with the offerings of Samsung, Micromax, Karbonn and many others, Nokia has the chance to bang the price-conscious consumer base.

Everything depends on the decision of the consumers and ultimately the fate of Nokia and Windows Phone 8 depends on them.

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