This week Nokia confirmed interim company results for Q1 2012. Not surprisingly, they posted a significant loss – with a huge balance sheet “abnormals” hit as a consequence of re-structuring costs, tax deferral impacts and other factors. Of course, sales were down vs. same Q1 2011 12m ago – and it is to this challenge that the Nokia Executive team and strategy is directed. Transitional stresses and costs were always going to come as Nokia shifted to a Windows Phone-led and Microsoft-partnered future. Yet this has not stopped a sudden wave of online news reports, websites and blogs suddenly deriding Nokia and their Lumia debut. Speculation, Rumour-mongering and superficial negativity seem to be the rule rather than the exception in online coverage. We at WPDownUnder would of course. like to pause, stop.
Then take a deep breath before we step back to look at the broader view for Nokia and Windows Phone Down Under.
….So we come to Australia. If we stick to facts for a moment, yes I know – it’s a novel concept – let’s put some context around 2012 and the Lumia launch here for a minute.
- Australia was amongst the FIRST of the 850Mhz using regions in the WORLD to get the Lumia launch.
- We had 2 devices launched, and have two more that Nokia have available which they are no doubt in discussions with carriers to also range (totalling 4 Yr1 devices).
- Nokia would have been stupid to split the launch and have Virgin/Optus weeks/months sooner and Telstra/Vodafone later. Hence the timing we saw.
- Despite some hoping for more, Nokia_AU have Marketed the Lumia range in just a couple of months MORE THAN ALL the previous Australian OEM devices COMBINED for WP7 since the 2010 launch!
- They have supported local Dev’s (with MS) with literally hundreds of handsets to promote the platform and Aussie Developer’s/content in the marketplace.
- Media AND Public events were staged (not everywhere, for everyone as much as they may have wanted) – events unlike any other AU OEM has previously done (YES, the reality re: scale is that Nokia Australia gets a fraction of EU/USA Promo budgets).
- We finally have an OEM that has engaged the Carriers and their staff to address the training & knowledge gap on WP7 that we know has helped hold this platform back vs. the competition prior to Nokia’s arrival.
- As a company, Nokia have been open and welcoming and supportive of the WP7AU community – engaging with Blogs, Enthusiasts and Fans across a range of social media.
- Most importantly on the retail side, they have unparalleled and unprecedented channel coverage and distribution. All Carriers, All major mobile resellers and Most major electronics retailers.
- At Telstra, the Lumia 800 has now received the AU equivalent of “hero status” – in many stores it has a solo feature display and demo, akin to the iOS Point-of-sale experience. This is a first for WP7AU!
- Nokia has also led public competitions for fans and followers direct from the OEM with Lumia Windows Phones as prizes for Australia.
- They have also delivered REAL value-add in their services accompanying the hardware. FREE Nokia Drive turn-by-turn Voice GPS functions, FREE local and international Map support/access, FREE Nokia Music – and Beta Apps like Nokia Transport, Nokia Pulse, Nokia Play to (DLNA support) etc. No accusations of typical OEM “bloatware” on devices here!
- Finally, globally, recognising the historical issues over the dropping by MS of Windows updates communication to owners, they have launched a global update tracker/FAQ/engagement site for their customers.
(video by @ChappoPaul – Music/Audio (c) Nokia Australia. Edited by Sheeds).
There’s some scene setting for you. Factually. Of course there are negatives too – we are still waiting on the ICS (Internet Connection Sharing) /Tethering update globally (but it’s coming), there have been bugs in software (but they are promptly addressing these) etc. The balance of facts, for Australia, point to a strong launch performance by Nokia in this country. Further to these, a quick Poll at WPDownUnder at the start of April (with 150 votes) reported;
- 17% of readers giving Nokia a 10/10 for their overall Lumia debut here in Australia
- 32% of voters scoring Nokia a 8 or 9 out of 10.
- 39% of participants rating them a 6 or 7 out of 10
- 7% largely on the fence at 5 out of 10 and only
- 5% assessing Nokia as a fail at less than 5 out of 10.
A strong result to support the facts and points above.
Finally onto two points I will add which are either anecdotal or sourced from other parties. Firstly, in WpDownUnder’s retail travels (SE suburbs Melbourne) – the recognition levels and knowledge of WP7 by retail sales staff are at the highest I have ever seen for the platform (yes one could argue that in 2011 it could not have got much lower). Feedback from these retail visits can best be summarised as;
- Small to medium phone retailers quoting “modest” sales and interest in WP7 (before Lumia and Nokia’s arrival it was universally “almost no interest!”)
- Telstra stores I have visited have reported “solid” to “good” Lumia sales (contract).
- Allphones stores visited also report “solid” to “good” Lumia sales (contract mostly – some outright) &
- Feedback from Harvey Norman has been “OK, reasonable etc” vs. prior WP7 handsets STILL sitting on shelves from launch in late 2010!
“We have launched four Lumia devices ahead of schedule to encouraging awards and popular acclaim. The actual sales results have been mixed. We exceeded expectations in markets including the United States, but establishing momentum in certain markets including the UK has been more challenging.”
Against this backdrop, a well-placed anonymous industry source advised wpdownunder today that they understand that the Australian Nokia Lumia Windows Phone launch has been closer to the US side of this results spectrum than the UK/EU position!
But of course, let’s not let the facts get in the way of generating web traffic, getting ping-backs and pursuing a lowest-common denominator style of online journalism…
So let’s all just take a breath and avoid re-cycling rumour and speculative negativity passing as analysis.
<coming soon – An Aussie Rant Part 2: WP8/Apollo>