Ballmer and Microsoft trumpeted the arrival of the fresh, new Windows Phone platform and expected for their product to sell and sell well. Faced with the daunting challenge of competing with Android and the iPhone, company officials remained humble and realistic of the task before them. Though the revamped OS offered many innovative features the lack of apps and the snooze fest hardware accompanying the launch proved far too much to overcome in the first year. Funny thing happened though. Windows Phone OS 7.5 (Mango) raised the platform to another level. So much so that the platform saw an acceleration of apps and capabilities that left the platform’s enthusiasts satisfied shifting the conversation from software to hardware. That multi-year gap that the OS was supposed to take to catch up to iOS and Android in usability vanished in less than a full year. The next, and most important task, was for Microsoft to take stock of where Windows Phone was at and decide if their fledgling platform had what it takes to sell with the big boys. Enter Nokia.
Nokia, having their lunch ate from them, seemed poised to go down the drain when their newly minted (and formerly Microsoft exec) CEO Stephen Elop did what at the time seemed unthinkable; he struck a win-win deal with Microsoft to use Windows Phone as the OS for their smartphone lineup. A little over a year later and Nokia has already ascended to the top seller of second generation Windows Phone devices. This all without having a single flagship device selling in the US or China. If Nokia could crash the party and legitimately enter conversation before launching either the Lumia 800 or Lumia 900 how much better could the fortunes of Windows Phone become with Nokia’s trademark marketing skills? Time will tell, the excitement is rising and the expectations have become oh so great. Here is my view on why Great Expectations are not only welcome but warranted.
Change for the Better
I’m a proud owner of both a HTC Surround and HTC Titan. The thing is I can’t recall seeing a single commercial for either handset. The only people in my offline (real world) life that knew about the Titan was the people I told. No platform or device will sell well if this is the case. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone a single day without seeing an Apple iPhone ad. This sadly, was the same across all the Windows Phone devices being sold pre-Nokia. That’s why having Nokia launching in the US is change, not just for the sake of change, but for the better. Nokia is the only company I’d put on par with Apple when it comes to marketing their products. They do it in different ways but they are just as effective. Windows Phone needs Nokia to succeed; Nokia needs Windows Phone to succeed. There is no two ways about it this is a potential huge win-win situation.
Phone Not Platform Launch
Nokia & AT&T are launching the Lumia 900 in the next week. The buzz and intensity with which people are anticipating and praising the phone is unmistakable. This phone has “winner” written all over it. I’ll say it bluntly, no other Windows Phone matters the moment the Lumia 900 launches. It is the flagship of the platform and is oft spoken alongside the iPhone as best in class for build quality and beauty. The main problem Microsoft has always faced is they couldn’t single out any single device, no matter how superior, from its OEM partners to trumpet. This led to nondescript adverts to steered clear of showing off any devices and instead filled the adverts with too much talking. This is a stark contrast to how Nokia markets their Lumia lineup. “The beautifully different Nokia Lumia” is the final words and message the following advert leaves on the viewer’s mind.
I’ll tell you something else that this commercial does well. It never mentions Windows Phone. Not once! The viewer will associate all the descriptive phrases “alive with apps,” “so you can save money,” “save time,” “save the universe,” and “see your world come to life” with the Nokia Lumia. To the viewer you connect with the Lumia device, not the platform. Sounds familiar? It should as Apple does the same thing with the iPhone. In fact its basic consumer psychology. Check twitter and tech blogs and people are raving about the device not the platform. That’s a good thing. This all brings me to launch partners.
Carriers promote products not platforms. Have you ever seen the commercial or billboard that advertised Android while trumpeting cheaper plans? I have, I see them all the time. This works for regional carriers because their only play is to go lower than the big carriers on pricing. Why else would you put up with horribly spotty coverage and ancient devices. AT&T don’t want any one company holding too much power, that is reserved for the carrier themselves. Nokia’s Lumia 900 gives AT&T the opportunity to draw in new carrier converts much like how the original iPhone did. I’m not saying it will be to the magnitude but it could based on the growing market size.
I recently visited a local AT&T store to check out the Lumia 900 in person. One of the Retail Sales Reps greeted me and proceeded to pull out the Lumia 900 (Black) at the first mention of Windows Phones. He was an iPhone user but he along with five out of six store associates were rocking the Lumia 900. He had nothing but good things to say about the phone and this coming from an admitted Windows Phone non-enthusiast. He said he’d be happy to recommend it once it goes on sale and it’s a great phone that will drive sales alongside the iPhone. When you add in the fact we’ll see AT&T produced TV ads and the fact the Lumia 900 will take over the store signage visibility will not be an issue. Retail Sales Reps proactively pushing the device like the reps I spoke with is cherry on top. So despite some of my tech blogging colleagues dismissing the role AT&T can play in a device’s success I’m going go with the sentiment that its better for the carrier to be actively for you than actively going against you.
Choice is Good
As much as people love the iPhone people crave choice. Remember when the “architect” in the Matrix movie told Neo that humans had rejected an utopian experience? That’s true in real life. Most of our problems and mistakes come because we’d much rather exercise choice than stay in a seemingly perfect situation. Nokia’s Lumia 900 is “brilliantly different.” It comes in multiple appealing colors and it feels great in the hand. It offers a premiere experience on a new and lively platform that is gaining much needed apps every day. People will seek out and find a great device in the Lumia 900. Its so beautiful and stands out from any other phone on the market. There is only one other phone like that, the iPhone. Again, choice is good and with sales reps pushing the Lumia 900 as the favorite choice there will be more than enough opt-ins to ensure the Lumia 900 is a success.
In my eyes the Lumia 900 is Beautifully Different. You don’t have to take my word for it, its just my Windows Phone View.