John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Nokia’s Lumia: New Dawn or Dawn of the Dead?

“It’s a new dawn for Nokia,” CEO Stephen Elop said, following the launch of the new Lumia Windows Phone line earlier this week. And to look at the devices, with their solid guts and sleek design, it’s easy to agree. Certainly, they’re a big step forward in Nokia’s effort to make its high-end phones credible again. And as Barclays observes in a research note this morning, Nokia’s carrier partners seem to be excited by them.

“We believe all six devices will be competitive in the marketplace from both hardware and pricing standpoints,” the research outfit’s Nokia team wrote. “We have been positively surprised by the large number of wireless operators involved in the Lumia’s launch (an average of 5 per country where the device will be launched in Western Europe this quarter).”

So, good news for Nokia, and a good start.

Or not.

Because over at Bernstein, they’re taking a very different view. There, analysts are saying there’s really nothing to differentiate the Lumia from the competition. Worse, at the high end of the line it’s overpriced and at the mid and low ends it’s got a “cheap build.”

“This new product portfolio appears worryingly uncompetitive,” says Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu, adding that because of its $580 price point the Lumia 800, Nokia’s hero device, will be hobbled at launch. “This phone is condemned to be either anecdotic [sic] or go through massive price cuts in the next 6 months.”

If that’s to be the fate of its marquee handset, Nokia has another tough year ahead of it battling it out with the iPhone and Google’s Android army.

“This product portfolio has only a limited chance of regaining ground against two operating systems that take 85 percent of the high smartphone market, particularly as the price points appear uncompetitive at present,” Ferragu concludes. “I now believe the company is unlikely to see a meaningful change in trends as it launches these products. Initial shipments may have only a limited impact on shipments and gross margins, but we would be surprised to see a lasting positive effect.”

So two divergent views. New dawn or dawn of the dead. For Nokia’s sake, let’s hope it’s the former.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus