Nokia CEO Stephen Elop launched the company's Lumia devices---designed to put the smartphone maker back on track---and said "there is still some adventure ahead of us." He's not kidding. How this adventure plays out will largely depend on a 25-year-old consumer that Nokia hopes will be filled with gadget lust.
Indeed, Nokia's launch is just the beginning and it's unclear if the company's plan to "fill the world with tiles" will pay off. Structurally, Nokia hit its key themes.
- The Lumia 700 and 800 will hit the market in November.
- The devices will roll out in a global blitzkrieg that starts in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK in November, fans out to Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan by the end of the year and then lands in the U.S. in early 2012. Lumia devices will support WCDMA, HSPA and LTE and CDMA in "specific local markets" likely to be the U.S.
- Carrier and retail support will be huge.
Add it up and Nokia proved it could move quickly, partner well with Microsoft to get a product out the door and launch devices designed to stem a market share slide. Welcome to the starting line Nokia.
Elop in his keynote at Nokia World in London admitted the fun is just beginning (live blog, Nokia statement, Techmeme). "Today is just the beginning of our new adventure," said Elop. "We will upgrade an ordinary moment into an exciting one."
The highlight of the keynote really came from Steven Overman, vice president of marketing creation for Nokia. He outlined how Nokia will target 25 year olds who don't remember a time when information wasn't at their fingertips. Overman's breathless soundbites go like this:
- "The amazing every day."
- "Butter smooth UI."
- "We'll fill the world with tiles"
- "Amazing moments."
According to Overman, this marketing nirvana will "be a journey to the moment of truth" when the consumer will get to a store experience and "point of sale furniture" that will close the Nokia Lumia deal. "At that moment of truth decisions are emotional," gushed Overman.
Overman's part of the keynote was a bit much for breakfast---at least on East Coast time in the U.S.---but that point-of-sale experience will make or break Nokia's Windows Phone plans. The devices look sharp, but Nokia's Lumia phones won't be the cool kids on the block. That space is occupied by Apple's iPhone. Meanwhile Android has its own distribution army that can match Nokia's now.
In the end, Nokia's fate rests with that target demographic. That smartphone buyer will have to be filled with gadget lust, drool over the Lumia and perhaps overcome the fact that Nokia has had a rough few years leading up to this moment. I see potential for gadget lust, but curiosity about the Lumia doesn't get me to the point where I'm handing over my credit card.
My next big question for Nokia's Lumia: Will I wait for it when my contract is up in December? I need to see more, but my personal calculus merely highlight the hurdles ahead of Nokia and its Lumia phones. Nokia needs a hit.
Morgan Stanley analysts said in a research note:
"While Nokia is optimistic about its new OS strategy, there is no certainty that it can launch compelling new Windows Phone devices in 12 months. The longer it takes to launch a successful device, the harder it will be to create the necessary ecosystem."
Simply put, the stakes are high for Nokia and this Lumia launch and its fate rests with that 25-year-old global citizen who has to decide whether she wants a world filled with Windows Phone tiles.