Nokia's first half of 2013 critical

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says the company is moving faster. It needs to go fast enough to build out its Windows Phone 8 portfolio in the first half of 2013.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the company has to move faster, relish its underdog role and mine "a landscape of unpolished gems."


Unfortunately, Elop's work in progress, detailed in a CNET News interview with Roger Cheng, has a time limit. Notably, Nokia has the first half of 2013 to really figure things out.

In the interview, Elop said:

There's been a marked shift towards this challenger mindset. We have to move with urgency. We have to have empathy and listen to our customers. How do we respond to consumer demand that we haven't done as quickly as before? How do we take those bold steps? How do we disrupt the competition? From what I've seen in this organization, that shift is happening.

What remains to be seen is whether Nokia can move fast enough. Sure, the Lumia 920 is apparently selling well, but Nokia needs a broader line-up. Nokia also needs Windows Phone 8 to be a hit. In the U.S., Nokia needs Verizon to get on the Lumia bandwagon more.

Analysts widely expect Nokia to deliver a solid fourth quarter---at least relative to previous debacles---but caution that the first half of 2013 could be rocky.

Oppenheimer's Ittai Kidron said in a research note:

While the Lumia 920 is seeing solid interest, we can't ignore the fact that it's benefiting from strong subsidies from carriers and Microsoft as well as discounting from Nokia. These efforts will moderate in the first quarter of 2013, raising the key question of momentum sustainability.

And Nokia's Windows 8 Phone portfolio needs to evolve. Kidron said:

The Lumia 920 is seeing good demand although reviews are somewhat mixed. For Nokia's Windows strategy to succeed, a broad portfolio would need to gain traction and none of Nokia's other WP8 devices (820, 510, 620) has yet to impress. It's critical that Nokia address this in the first half of 2013.

In other words, there could be a perception vs. reality gap when it comes to Lumia sales. There are supply limitations and it's unclear whether consumers are buying Lumias over Apple's iPhones and Galaxies from Samsung.

Nokia is making progress, but it remains to be seen if Elop can get the company running really hard.


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