NOKIA N9 OR LUMIA 800; NOKIA’s BRAVE DECISION

I hope you have managed to read my last couple of posts here, giving my opinions on what the Nokia Lumia 800 and N9 have going for them, also how I came to purchase the Nokia N9 having owned and enjoyed using the Lumia 800. This here is kind of a summing up of events which took place in the Nokia board rooms at the start of 2011. At least, that is when the general public and rest of Nokia staff and share holders became aware of the decision.

I am, of course talking about Stephen Elop’s plan to rescue Nokia from, well, turning out unpopular smartphones.

Unpopular? In the sense of customers opinions? No, not really. People who were buying Symbian 3 phones at the time were, for the most part very pleased with what they got. Features such as design, battery life, durability, camera (on the n8 anyway) and what it could do, I was always of the opinion that my N8 had way more features than the iPhone 3G and 4.

Unpopular in terms of sales then? No, again not really. In the last 3 months of 2010, when the first batch of S^3 powered phones came out, nearly 30 million were sold. While this was a little less than the sales of Android smartphones, it was double what the iPhone shipped.

The places where Symbian was unpopular was with carriers, especially in the United States. The guys who sold direct to the public, such as Orange, T-mobile and AT&T. I recall, when I went to upgrade my Nokia 5800, in April 2011, the only S^3 I could take was the N8. Which was just as well, as that was the one I wanted.

On 11th February 2011, as most reading this will know, Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop made the announcement that Nokia would be switching Operating Systems. Windows Phone would be the way Nokia would make the carriers put the Finnish brand of mobiles back in the best display points in the shops. This, as we say in the UK, went down like a sack of spuds. Nokia fans were angered, whatever flaws Symbian had, it  was still better than the Windows Phone Operating system, in terms of both features and sales.

However, that announcement meant more than dropping Symbian, as it had been reported that Nokia had another OS in development. At that time, all that was known about it was the name, MeeGo, and that it was the next step on from Meamo 5, which had powered the N900. But what many liked about it was that it was going to be run on the Linex kernel (what ever that means!)

What was not known at that time, was how good Nokia’s first MeeGo phone would be. When the public saw it, reviewers raved about the ingenious User Interface and beautiful hardware, which complimented each other brilliantly.

As I write this, on the 9th April 2012, it has been a day since the Nokia Lumia 900 launched. In the 900 they have a phone built for the US, with next gen network LTE and a 4.3 inch screen. It seems a good time to review that decision. Was Elop correct?

I have titled this post “A Brave Decision”. In my view, for Stephen Elop to come into a company as large as Nokia and tell them everything they’ve been working on for the last decade is not good enough, took guts. In his opinion, it took a fresh eye to see that all the investment in Symbian and MeeGo just wasn’t going to get Nokia Phones back in the biggest economy, the US.

We are about to find out whether or not it was the right move. How well the Lumia 900 does in the next few months will be an important factor. On the face of it, I have to say, some share holders of Nokia will feel a lot better about their investment now than before Elop’s decision. Elop saw that what the mainstream market wants, in terms of a mobile OS, is something which, as Apple are so proud of saying, Just Works. With MeeGo Harmattan and Symbian, while I prefer using them over Windows Phone 7.5, there is more to go wrong. More features which may require the phone to be rebooted. The truth is, the type of consumers which end up with an iPhone, may not know what rebooting means. They may not be aware of ripping music from CD’s, or using PayPal to purchase songs online, which can then be put onto the device. With the Lumia, plug it into a computer, and it downloads all the software. Everything can be done on a PC, no hassles.

There is an argument to be had that MeeGo could have put Nokia back into a dominating position. But, the amount of customers who’d enter an AT&T store and recognize the MeeGo name is far out numbered by those who’d recognize the Windows name.

I am very interested to know your view on this. Please leave a comment to this blog, or press the “Plus” symbol at the top of the page to follow. I’m on Twitter, user name @Chriswwwright, and would like to hear from you.

There will be more to come from me soon. Take care, and enjoy which ever phone you choose to use.

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Comments
2 Responses to “NOKIA N9 OR LUMIA 800; NOKIA’s BRAVE DECISION”
  1. aprimo says:

    I finally got an N9 a few days ago, having been a happy N900 owner previously. While I am far from being a developer, or even what one would call a tech geek, I am decidedly more tech savvy than your average iPhone user. I don’t mind taking a chance to open up the capabilities of my device when I find a site with good instructions on how to do so, and good reports from other users. I have already activated developer mode on my N9 and turned on the WiFi Hotspot app which for some reason does not work out of the box in the US. I am loving my N9 so far, and I am still figuring it out.

    While you are undoubtedly correct that the Windows name has far greater name recognition in the US than MeeGo, I seriously doubt whether that makes it appealing to consumers. The experience of many people in the US with Windows is decidedly frustrating. Windows does NOT “just work”! Especially given the disaster of Vista, which has not faded for a lot of people, I have to wonder how many people would really want to deal with such frustration on their smartphone. I have not used Windows Phone and it may in fact be great, but I think the name recognition of Microsoft and Windows is not necessarily a positive.

    • I agree the name Windows may not instantly bring up thoughts of reliability and ease of use, but from my experience of WP, which was only 3 and a bit months, it was a breath of fresh air in terms of user friendliness compared to the Symbian 3 phone which I had been using. Granted, I was sacrificing a lot of features with that move, but the ones I got with the Lumia 800 worked beautifully.
      Thanks for commenting, and congratulations on getting an N9. Which colour did you go with. I got Cyan (blue) but if I was going to pick again would have to say the white version looks amazing.

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