Elop: Nokia is back on track

Elop: Nokia is back on track

Summary: The switch to Windows Phone is paying off, with sales and releases doing well, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has told the MWC crowd, as he introduced a new low-priced Lumia and a Symbian phone with a 41MP camera


Nokia believes it is set to return to being a leading player in the smartphone world following a strong reception to its Asha and Lumia family of devices, according to the Finnish handset maker.

Nokia at MWC

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia showed off the Lumia 610. Image credit: Kent German/CNET News

Alongside touting the company's return to form, Nokia introduced the Lumia 610 and the camera-centric Nokia 808 PureView smartphones at Mobile World Congress 2012 on Monday. The new Lumia adds a cheaper model to Nokia's Windows Phone OS-based line-up and provides a new entry point to Nokia's ranges.

"One year ago we said we would switch our strategy for smart devices to Windows Phone, we said we would connect one billion people to the internet using our mobile phones, and we would focus on key differentiators," Stephen Elop, chief executive of Nokia, told the MWC audience in Barcelona.

Elop delivered a damning assessment of the Finnish handset maker a year ago in a leaked memo, saying the once-dominant company had fallen "years behind" rivals such as Apple's iPhone, Google-backed Android and low-cost Chinese phones. In February 2011, it also announced a deal with Microsoft that would see it switch its focus to Windows Phone OS and phase out its Symbian OS work, as part of a push to deliver handsets to a tighter time frame.

Nokia's targets

In his MWC keynote speech, Elop re-iterated that not only is Nokia aiming high with its targets, but that it was striving to achieve them as quickly as possible by disseminating handsets into multiple markets, with multiple operators. He noted that the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800, launched late last year, are now available in 31 markets with more than 50 operators.

"One year later it's very, very clear that we have changed the clock speed of Nokia. In the last year alone, we launched the Asha family of products... Also in the last year, we introduced three new Lumia devices, ahead of schedule, establishing beachheads from which we will continue to expand and grow," Elop said.

In January, Nokia announced its re-entry into the US smartphone market with the Lumia 900, which has recently been a challenging country for Nokia to crack. However, Elop said sales in the US have "exceeded expectations" and that European consumers are "responding positively".

"Considering how long it's traditionally taken Nokia to change course, it is amazing to see what they achieved in a year. [There's] more to do of course," Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said in a post to Twitter.

On Monday, Nokia said it will start shipping the Lumia 900 to non-US markets, including the UK. In Europe, the 900 handset will not come with LTE, but will be a DC-HSPA variant instead. It will cost €480 (£406) and is expected to arrive in the second quarter.

In addition to talking up Nokia's progress, Elop introduced the Lumia 610 and Nokia 808 PureView, which has a huge 41-megapixel camera sensor. Nokia also launched three Symbian-based Asha handsets — the touchscreen Asha 202, 203 and a QWERTY-equipped Asha 302, to connect "the next one billion consumers", said Mary McDowell, head of mobile phones at the handset maker.

Nokia Lumia 610

The Lumia 610 has a 3.7-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of internal memory. Image credit: CNET UK

Lumia 610

The Lumia 610 is priced low for one of Nokia's smartphones, something that was not possible before due to the minimum specifications Microsoft called for in Windows Phone-based devices. However, Microsoft has eased up on memory and processor specs in its Tango software update, due to roll out in April, meaning that cheaper Windows Phone handsets can now make their way to market.

The Lumia 610 has a 3.7-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of internal memory. It comes with Nokia Maps, Drive and Transport software services, as well as Nokia Music. It will cost €189 before taxes or subsidies and is due to ship in the second quarter, the company said.

"Nokia Lumia 610 will be a great device for operators to drive users from feature phones to smartphones," Milanesi said. "The price gap with Symbian [is] closing."

808 PureView

The Nokia 808 PureView is aimed squarely at cameraphone fans with its 41-megapixel sensor, Carl Zeiss optics and full HD video capture. It comes with Nokia-developed pixel "over-sampling" technology, which the company said will result in sharper, more detailed images, even in low-light conditions.

Nokia at MWC

The Nokia PureView 808 has a 41-megapixel camera. Image credit: Kent German/CNET News

The rest of the Nokia 808's spec list is more mid-range: it has a 1.3GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. It runs the Symbian operating system and is due to begin shipping in May, priced at around €450.

"Nokia [is] keeping Symbian in the game with [the] 808, but [is] mostly showing what innovation could come soon to a Lumia phone," Milanesi said. "I am sure Nokia has not had enough time to integrate PureView on [the] WP [Windows Phone] platform but will in the future."

At the Barcelona conference, Nokia said it will continue to develop location and services for its Lumia family of Windows Phone handsets, an important key differentiator with rival handsets. It introduced an update for Nokia Drive that will provide full offline navigation and speed camera alerts. The update will be available to download in March, Nokia said.

It also revealed plans to release a public transport service, called Nokia Transport, that will provide door-to-door bus, tram, train and underground directions for 500 cities across 46 countries. This update will also be available to download from the Windows Phone Marketplace in March.

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Topics: MWC, Mobility, Smartphones

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Clearly Elop is living in a dreamworld. Their Windows Phones are sitting on the shelves gathering dust.

    It's so desperate, they had to give 200,000 of them away to Android owners for free via Neilson... Although most of them were faulty and ended up on ebay... Perhaps ZDNet should write about things like this... ie. REALITY, rather than lame press releases like this.
  • Eh? Rubbish! The Lumia is flying off the shelves. I have to wait months as they can't get them for our country yet as they are catering for the other countries demand. It appears more people have signed up on FB with windows handsets than any other OS on the market as to date. Besides, after carefully studying for years android, iOS - I choose something better than all put together. Nokia Belle. It is awesome. And very impressive. I have access to galaxy pads, apple handsets. After researching, the best phone was a C7 - Compared to the iphone 4 with symbian/novia belle. It wipes the floor in so many ways. The technology in the c7 is by far better. Combined with Belle. It is quicker than the galaxy II and definitely apple. Symbian Belle was made with help from both intel and a little from google. For me personally speaking am not satisfied with looking at a dumb arse menu screen of apps made for a bunch of mainstreamers without much of a clue about phones and settled with icrap. I want quality. Not quantity. Have all the apps you want. I prefer something special. Nokia. By far better than anything else. Nokia Belle has had so many good reviews. Many reviews are implying that belle is equal or better than android, iOS
  • Come on, everyone knows Windows Phone has flopped. Our store can't even give them away. HTC Took all their stocks of HTC Titan back (bought back by Microsoft is the rumour, and burried in a deep hole to prevent a PR Disaster).

    As Mentioned, the Lumias are also flopping badly, with Neilson being brought onboard to give them away, as they have trouble selling them.

    Lastly, there is the dire state of the app store, and the prospect of any Windows Phone being obsolete in 6 months when Windows 8 launches, and Microsoft changes it's mobile strategy yet again.
  • Oh yeah it has flopped! What are you talking about!!?
    It is still a relatively new OS so you simply cannot say that anyway.

    I think you need to wake up. 'Dire state of the app store' wait what? The Windows Phone marketplace is the fastest growing app store in the world. It has also just reached 65,000 apps in it. It has 400% relative growth year on year.

    The whole point of Windows 8 is to bring people to Windows Phone. This will not hinder it. A big update to Windows Phone will bring it fully in line with Windows 8. Apps can be made for both with only small changes to the code. People with PC's will get familiar with the retro UI and getting WP will be a real option for them when they get their next smartphone.

    Actually sales of Lumia's are promising. They sold 'well over 1 million' devices in Q4 2011 and January 2012. That shows promising sales considering the 710 was launched later on than the 800 and both were initially only available in a few countries. The phones also sold out on launch at some carriers and stores- obviously not yours though! They have also become best selling on some carriers as well.