If you’ve been paying attention you should have noticed by now that in the U.S. market Samsung and Apple are decimating the competition. Both their market share and mindshare keeps their devices selling faster than their competition almost without even trying. Nokia has seen their Lumia smartphone lineup received well in the U.S. but in 2013 it is hard to see a rapid uptick in share increase. Nokia has recognized this and devised a plan to reclaim much of their former glory. I call it Operation Verge.
Emerging Markets Are Key Battleground
Nokia has clearly recognized the need to not lose the emerging market war and there are two parts to that mission. First is delivering affordable devices. Launching the Lumia 520 at $180 certainly makes this device appealing to a lot of people looking to ditch their feature phone for a smartphone. We know Nokia goes to great lengths to optimize their lower-end Lumia devices to run smoothly. To create differentiating value Nokia seems to be focusing on the services end of the deal. They are bringing some of their valuable creative apps and technology introduced in their flagship products to the lower-end where you typically only find lackluster devices. The inclusion of Cinemagraph, Panorama shot & SmartShoot features will be welcomed and can be marketed heavily. Combine that with what should be a decent 5MP camera and the newly rebranded HERE Suite users will be able to enjoy their Nokia Lumia 520 right out of the box.
Branding Is Important
The Second differentiating thing Nokia is bringing is a consistent design approach complete with the colorful choices we’ve seen introduced lately. The Lumia 720 is for non-LTE markets, includes NFC and Wireless charging capabilities (via optional wireless charging covers), a nice 2000mAh battery that is the same that can be found on the Lumia 920 and it is the first unibody device from Nokia that includes support for MicroSD support. The inclusion of NFC, colorful choices and additional wireless charging support is meant to keep devices at lower price points in line with the flagship device. It helps Nokia simplify their marketing approach because each device is capable of running the best software they produce.
Marketing Down Stream
Nokia clearly gets that they won’t own the U.S. market or Europe for that matter anytime soon. Though they will continue to release high-end models and push the boundaries of innovation Nokia has not allowed the importance of shipping in volume. They now have a full suite of devices that not only are affordable but capable that they can craft a marketing message around. Elope hammered home the point of highlighting locally important apps, he also wanted to make sure he announced the 130,000+ apps in the Windows Phone store. Those are some key things to build on when crafting a marketing strategy. A great device with locally relevant apps. The MicroSD card support is huge for both the 520 and 720.
I expect Nokia to grow their global market share by at least 5% by the end of this year. They have launched a preemptive strike on their competition and until Apple launches a budget iPhone the only real competition should come from Samsung in the emerging markets. They are continuing to strengthen their relationship with China Mobile and that should only lead to more units being sold. Nokia isn’t going anywhere. In fact this morning’s device announcements make me even more positive about Nokia’s future.