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Nokia’s North America centric approach for Windows Phone 7

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Core information:

Follow-up:
Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone 7) value proposition [Oct 26, 2011]
Designing smarter phones–Marko Ahtisaari (Nokia) and Albert Shum (Microsoft) [Nov 23, 2011]
Note: Both Lumias come first to countries other than North-America where a portfolio of Lumias will be introduced just the first half of 2012. 

Update 2:
Nokia US President Chris Weber: Why Lumia’s a hit [Nokia Conversations, Dec 20, 2011]

Chief explains why the 710 is right for America and hints: you ain’t seen nothing yet

I got a few minutes with Chris Weber, President, Nokia North America, after the smartphone sales announcementlast Wednesday. Without further ado, here’s what went down…

Chris, what excites you particularly about the Nokia Lumia 710 coming to the US on T-Mobile?

First of all, this is a world-class smartphone that is aimed at converting current feature-phone owners over to the exciting world of smartphone ownership. Our numbers show that more than 150 million Americans don’t have smartphones currently. Many are on the fence because of high phone costs or high monthly plan costs.

The Lumia 710, with T-Mobile, will cost only $49 and monthly plans will cost around $50 per month.

What sets the 710 apart from the competition?

The Lumia 710 has a great hardware offering with a 1.4 Ghz SnapDragon processor, a color-popping ClearBlack display, and Nokia’s exclusive Nokia Drive, which offers great point-to-navigation so you can leave your GPS behind when traveling. Not to mention, you get Nokia’s amazing industrial design all backed by the amazing usability of Windows Phone.

This is the first look for Nokia fans in the US at Windows Phone – what’s cool about it?

Windows Phone is amazingly fast and usable right out of box. Because Windows Phone integrates popular social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – users can easily sign in and utilize these without installing apps for them.

It’s known that first-time smartphone owners hate setting up their devices and installing loads of apps just to get started on their networks of choice. On Windows Phone, you do a simple set up process and you’re good to go.

My favorite uses for Windows Phone are the People Hub, Live Tiles and the amazing Open Table integration that helps you find reservations all within the Local Scout utility – this is very cool.

Tell me more about the custom offerings for the Lumia phones, specifically Nokia Maps and ESPN – what can we look forward to?

Nokia Maps and ESPN will come pre-loaded on the phones at purchase. Rest assured that Nokia Maps is a huge platform for us that we see a lot of potential for. There will be exciting announcement and additions in the near future, but I can’t say more now.

As for ESPN, our partnership with them has yielded unique experiences and custom content to the Nokia Lumia 710. Again, we have some awesome features that sports fans will just eat up coming in the near future, we are iterating fast and news will be coming in the coming months.

So, this is the start of a set of Nokia phones, can you elaborate?

I can say that we have been talking to a number of carriers and we’ve been astounded at their overwhelming support. We will be launching more phones on other carriers. The Lumia 710 is the start of a portfolio of products aimed at the United States.

We like to call our Windows Phone Portfolio rollout “rolling thunder”. What this means is that we will have numerous announcements spread throughout the coming months that will offer something for everyone.  In our view, this is a marathon, not  a sprint, and we anticipate being a major player in the US market by this time next year.

More information:
T-Mobile brings Nokia Lumia 710 to the U.S. [joint press release, Dec 14, 2011]: “Nokia and T-Mobile deliver a leading entry-level Windows Phone experience to the nearly 150 million Americans still to make the transition to smartphones.” [expected to be available starting Jan. 11]
Nokia Lumia 710 now shipping [Dec 9, 2011]: “Second Windows Phone smartphone from Nokia reaches stores today [in Taiwan]”

Update 1:
DroidUser999 says: … What happened to Nokia-MS Party on Aug 17th. Did they announce anything? [August 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm]

Taigatrommel says: August 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm

It was said they’d have a “small portfolio of devices” ready this year for small launch on limited regions.

I think they talked about a touch-only phone as well as one with a keyboard. So this small portfolio would include two different devices.

– More information (for the gaming and entertainment space): Nokia Windows Phone to debut on August 17 at the huge gamescom 2011 event [Aug 3, 2011 with updates up to Aug 20, 2011]

@dnystedt Dan Nystedt
Nokia supplier, Compal, to start shipping Windows Phone 7 smartphones to Nokia in September, total 2 million in Q4, Taiwan media say.
12 Aug via web

– More information: First Nokia WP7 in Q4 via an ODM route from Compal [Aug 13, 2011, with updates up to Aug 17, 2011]

End of updates

Exclusive: Nokia to Exit Symbian, Low-End Phone Businesses in North America [AllThingsD, Aug 9, 2011]

In an interview with AllThingsD, the head of Nokia’s U.S. subsidiary [Chris Weber] said that the company will also focus exclusively on sales through traditional wireless carriers. In the past, Nokia has sold its smartphones at full price to consumers, after finding carriers unwilling to significantly subsidize or market the products. It has also had a significant — if low margin — business selling low-cost feature phones.

North America is a priority for Nokia, Weber said, in part because it is a key market for Microsoft and also because Nokia sees it as a key to winning in the smartphone battle globally.

We’ll develop for North America and make the phones globally available and applicable,” Weber said. “In fact, evidence of that is that the first Windows Phones that will ship are being done by our group in San Diego.”
[where the headquarters and main engineering sites of Qualcomm are]

Nokia plans its biggest-ever marketing pushfocused on reestablishing its presence in the U.S.

“Without getting into numbers, it is significantly larger than anything we have done in the past and the most we will invest in any market worldwide,” Weber said. “They are putting their money where their mouth is.”

Nokia exec: Android and iPhone focus on the app is “outdated” [VentureBeat, Aug 9, 2011]

Weber … cited an effort to consolidate many of Nokia’s U.S. operations in Sunnyvale, a project he says resembles running a start-up [with a challenger mentality]. Since Weber joined Nokia in February, he’s already changed 80 percent of his leadership team, noting that he has “10 to 11 new direct reports” out of a total of 14.  Weber had left Microsoft in December, after running enterprise sales for the software giant.

Weber called Android and the iOS phone platforms “outdated.” While Apple’s iPhone, and its underlying iOS operating system, set the standard for a modern user interface with “pinch and zoom,” Weber conceded, it also forces people to download multiple applications which they then have to navigate between. There’s a lot of touching involved as you press icons or buttons to activate application features. Android essentially “commoditized” this approach, Weber said.

Nokia, by contrast, will offer a more seamless and efficient interface with its “live tiles and hubs” approach. It does this via Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, where applications will be integrated into everything you do. For example, if you want to communicate with a business contact, you select the contact from your address book, and then communicate in any way you want — via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter — without having to open those individual applications. That’s because everything is built around contacts, not applications. And your profile and most important contacts are represented by tiles on your home screen, which update dynamically as you or your contacts make status updates. On the iPhone and Android, by contrast, the home screen icons remain static.

Here’s one killer feature afforded by Mango: Using it, Nokia phones will be able to use voice commands to complete tasks without ever touching the phone. Weber demoed this feature for me (but unfortunately, wouldn’t let me shoot video of it), but here’s how it worked: When I texted him, his phone received the text and then automatically read the message out to him. He then directed his phone — again, using only voice — to reply to me with a spoken message. It arrived on my phone promptly. He did all this without ever touching his phone. And he’s said he’s used the voice feature to conduct scores of phone conversations, too, answering and hanging up without ever touching the phone. That’s pretty cool, indeed.

In fact, we’ve previously referenced this technology. However, Weber said the feature is much better than Android or Apple equivalents, because with those competing phones you have to touch the phone each time you want to initiate their voice-to-text features.

It’s a certainly a good feature to showcase, but its also not a game-changer, that massive overhaul that could give Nokia a decisive lead.

It’s not clear exactly how Nokia plans to distinguish itself from the host of other manufacturers — HTC, Samsung and LG — who are also committed to building phones on Mango.

Weber kept stressing Nokia’s superior hardware. And Nokia will also benefit from its relative leadership in location-based services via its ecommerce and maps offerings, which it owns directly, and therefore can monetize more effectively.

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1 Comment

  1. […] we had an extensive post on Nokia’s North America centric approach for Windows Phone 7 [Aug 11 – Dec 20, 2011] from which a specific positioning information should be highlighted here […]

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