Tag: nokia

Nokia can't rely on megapixels alone

Nokia’s new phone, the Lumia 1020, is grabbing headlines for a 41 megapixel camera. But the company still has serious hurdles to jump if it has any chance of reclaiming its former glory.

Technically impressive and pretty though it is, since ditching Symbian – and much of its staff – Nokia has been tightly anchored to Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. Having Stephen Elop at the helm, it seemed like it couldn’t have gone any other way, and executives previously admitted they considered Android but decided to bet the farm on Microsoft.

Since the alliance started, Nokia has put out some gorgeous looking hardware, and its smartphones have generally been well received. But even pop-up collaborations with techno-rodent Deadmau5 haven’t been able to win the world to its brand, and those that do buy the phones will be disappointed when they realise there’s not as much, compared to iOS and Android, they can do with them.

Ovum’s Tony Cripps points out the Lumia 1020 demonstrates Nokia’s fantastic capabilities in R&D and design, and that the device really does raise the bar in terms of imaging and audio experiences. But these features will have to be offset by pricing.

“The device will be expensive,” Cripps says. “Pricing has yet to be revealed but engineering of the kind on offer in the 1020 does not come cheap. Aggressive operator subsidies would no doubt help, but might detract from the device’s premium engineering and user experience”.

Microsoft has had problems getting developers over to Windows Phone for some time now, trying every trick in the book including the simple hard cash. The whole ecosystem is still lacking.

IHS’ mobile analyst, Daniel Gleeson, told TechEye that the relatively small ecosystem “does hurt Nokia and in particular, the lack of Instagram, Vine and Snapchat”.

A large problem facing Nokia is branding. It’s “no longer seen as cool or premium in Europe,” Gleeson says, “and the brand essentially doesn’t exist in North America at all”.

Gleeson notes that the ecosystem is improving, and the close relationship between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 should help address these problems. However, “most of these key apps are built by US developers for the US market,” he tells us. “Unless Nokia and Windows Phone is able to make a breakthrough in North America, the ecosystem problem will never be solved”.

One thing is clear – throwing cash at a brand does not necessarily make the brand.

Nokia’s gone nuts on spending and promotional events, but so did Intel with its Ultrabooks. There seems to be a missing ingredient for Nokia devices, and if it does not figure out what that is, it will continue to play a game of one-upmanship against itself while Android and iOS hog the limelight.

Still, the 1020 shows Nokia’s got some fighting spirit yet, and that the company is dedicated to finding its place in the market. Whether that can ever be at the top may be a question for Microsoft, not Nokia. 

Nokia scraps Windows RT tablet

Although Nokia is Microsoft’s partner of choice when it comes to Windows Phone, Nokia has reportedly ditched plans to launch a Windows RT tablet, despite the rumour that it has been working on one for over a year.

However, it appears that Nokia is still working on a Windows 8 tablet, the Street reports.

If the reports are indeed true, Microsoft is about to lose another potential Windows RT partner and even the ones that are still on board are anything but convinced RT can ever be a success.

Some big players like HP turned down the opportunity to build RT tablets outright, while others gave them a go only to ditch them a few months later, like Samsung. With the less than enthusiastic reception of Windows RT devices, Nokia’s decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

The company is already struggling to keep up with Android and iOS in the smartphone space and it hardly needs yet another barely competitive platform for tablets.

Windows RT 8.1 is expected to bring quite a few changes and new features. It won’t be as crippled as the original release and it will feature more business friendly apps. On the other hand, it won’t address the basic shortcomings of Windows RT – bloat, big footprint and high price. 

Nokia to buy Nokia Siemens Networks

Struggling Finnish mobile company Nokia has written a $2.2 billion cheque to buy Siemens out of its Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) partnership.

The move is surprising as many thought that Nokia would be sitting on all the cash it could, as its deal with Microsoft fails to take it to the heights it anticipated.

While Nokia is not doing that well, the network gear specialist NSN has been posting profits in the past few quarters.

Nokia said it expected to close the transaction, subject to regulatory approval, during the third quarter of this year.

Nokia Siemens Networks will become a fully owned subsidiary of Espoo, alhough Nokia hasn’t yet announced what the restructured entity will be called.

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser told Dow Jones Newswires, a while ago, that 2013 was the year his company would help “NSN to move into a better place” although it is strange that this was the place he had in mind, although we’ve seen Nokia’s HQ and it is very nice.

Now he is saying Nokia’s new acquisition is “an attractive opportunity to actively shape the telecom equipment market for the future and create sustainable value.”

Nokia CEO and ex Microsoft man, Stephen Elop, spoke highly of NSN’s recent financial growth.

Microsoft was in talks to buy Nokia's handset biz

Although both Microsoft and Nokia have attempted to quash rumours of a takeover since the installation of ex-Microsoft man Stephen Elop as Nokia’s CEO, rumours have emerged that Redmond recently held late-stage talks to dicuss buying the Finnish company’s handset business.

Nokia’s Windows Phones have largely been met with positive reviews, though a lagging app ecosystem and major inroads by Android devices have hampered success. In part thanks to this, Microsoft has been rumoured to be in serious discussion with Nokia to pick up the handset business. However, the Wall Street Journal reports, these talks wound down due to Nokia’s market position and disagreements on pricing.

Some of the talks are rumoured to have taken place as recently as this month, but the WSJ’s insiders have said they are not likely to advance further – at least any time soon.

The price, then, may have simply been too high. Nokia’s handset unit is valued on Wall Street at over $14 billion and made up almost half of the company’s revenue last year.

Although Stephen Elop’s position at Nokia, as well as Nokia’s commitment to Windows devices, post-Symbian, prompted rumour after rumour about a takeover, it is far more likely that the current arrangement suits Redmond better. Elop, loyal in the long-term to Microsoft, is steering Nokia and it is less risky to influence a device unit by proxy rather than outright taking full responsibility.

The company insists that it is still a player – and indeed, its devices have been significantly better since Symbian was ditched. But for now, other phone makers have taken up the fight against Apple with significantly more success than Nokia, specifically by utilising Android. Nokia’s allegiance to Microsoft puts it in a unique market position as an alternative to the iOS and Android mainstream, but ultimately it begs the question: if Nokia had taken up Android, could it have seriously turned around its operations, or ended up as another also-ran?

Nokia kills Symbian

Although it has been on life support for a while, the former rubber boot maker Nokia is about to pull the plug on its most successful product in November.

Nokia has announced that it will halt shipments of handsets bearing the self-built Symbian operating system sometime this summer.

According to AllThingsD, any remaining handsets will only be sold in emerging markets to deplete stockpiles.

We might see a few Symbian phones tip up in places where they have not heard of Android or Windows 8 and apparently there is still a demand for some of the low cost handsets in those regions.

But the move will bring a slow painful death for the OS, which is looking more dated than a Tunisian oasis.

Officially it also means that the terms of Nokia’s Faustian pact with Microsoft will be complete and the company’s fortunes will be ever linked to that of the Vole.

Nokia said that the Nokia 808 Pureview handset, the last Symbian handset the company produced, was a fitting end for the once-beloved system.

The Nokia 808 PureView acted as a bridge for the next wave of innovation now seen in the Lumia 925, a Nokia spokesman said. 

Nokia refugees unveil smartphone

A group of former Nokia executives who left the company rather than work on Windows Mobile have created their first smartphone using Nokia’s rejected operating system MeeGo.

The team wanted to prove that Nokia was daft killing off MeeGo in favour of Windows and want to prove a point.

According to Reuters , the company has 70 employees and $14.11 million in venture financing, the phone, called Jolla,  aims to take advantage of the operating system’s openness.  Its one main difference from other operating systems is that it is possible to download Android apps which means that it can use the Android store.

Jolla, priced at $510, runs on the MeeGo-based Sailfish operating system. It comes with a 4.5-inch display and 8-megapixel camera. It will also be 4G-capable, depending on the market.

The company said that the Jolla will go on sale in the fourth quarter and its main focus will be the Asian market, as a rapid growth in the region’s middle class is fuelling demand for smartphones. 

Android Q1 market share at 75 percent worldwide

Together, Android and iOS make up a staggering 92.3 percent of all smartphone shipments for Q1 2013, at least according to IDC’s latest worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker.

Shipments for the top two operating systems reached 199.5 million units globally for the first quarter, an increase of 59.1 percent compared to the previous year.

Android is indisputably the top dog in terms of market share, which seems to have been Google’s plan all along: tempt the manufacturers with a quality OS to rival Apple’s and flood the market. Samsung was leading the charge, holding an impressive 41.1 percent of the total Android vendor market. Many others maintained single digit market share but there were yet more with share of less than one percent.

IDC believes competition among the Android vendors has not leaned negatively on their overall mobile strategies but is shaking the market into each trying to come up with their own proprietary experiences on top of it.

Contrasted with its own performance, Apple’s iOS was a record breaker – enjoying the biggest ever Q1 volume on the back of iPhone shipments. However, for the wider market it posted a yearly decline in both share and shipments. IDC mirrored other recent criticisms from the technology community: that although there is still demand for the iPhone, the iOS experience has been pretty much the same since the first model hit the market back in 2007 – which could change with the next iteration of the OS.

Windows Phone has picked up the pace compared to its sluggish debut, doubling its market share since last year thanks to Nokia’s contribution. Nokia Windows Phone devices accounted for 79 percent of all shipped in the quarter. Although other vendors do ship Windows Phone, these are largely alternatives to flagship Android smartphones.

IDC believes the slow climb of Windows Phone – even with its measly shipment volumes of seven percent – represent some sincere support from both manufacturers and the consumer.

Blackberry’s revamp from RIM does not yet show its potential. Although there are double digit declines from the same time last year, IDC recognises that Blackberry is trying to turn what punters thought was a last hurrah into something more viable and long term. IDC points out that BB7 smartphones made up the majority of shipment volumes, which was not necessarily bad news because their cheaper prices did seduce customers in the company’s key markets. The jury is still out on BB10.

It won’t surprise anyone that Symbian’s popularity plunged: Nokia scrapped the OS and has moved on to Windows Phone instead, while remaining Japanese vendors who relied on Symbian have picked up Android. IDC believes there is a chance Symbian shipments will go on into 2014 but at even lower volumes.

Linux may yet win over some corners of the market with the launch of Mozilla, SailFish, Tizen and Ubuntu on the cards this year, however for now the open source alternative dropped to levels unheard of since the first quarter of 2010.

Nokia back from the dead

Former rubber boot maker Nokia is likely to report that it has come back from the dead.

The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street are expecting to hear some good news from Nokia when it announces its results in the first quarter any day now.

This is all thanks to rising Lumia smartphone sales and a turnaround at its equipment venture Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).

Nokia has recently launched the Lumia handsets in China where consumers have been increasingly turning from regular phones to smartphones.

Reuters expects quarterly shipments of 5.6 million Lumia handsets, up from 4.4 million in the fourth quarter.

The company’s underlying loss, which excludes special items, is shrinking.

This is expected to take some pressure off CEO Stephen Elop, who was hired in 2010 to lead a turnaround at Nokia.

He made a controversial decision to switch to the untried Windows software.

Some cynics say that it’s too early to sound the all-clear. Nokia’s cash position has fallen to 3.7 billion from 4.4 billion three months earlier.

Investors also point out that the smartphone industry’s top two players, Samsung and Apple, show little signs of ceding market share.

But analysts on average expect Lumia shipments to pick up to over seven million units next quarter. If it does not increase then the doubts about Nokia’s future will return. 

Microsoft-backed group calls Android anticompetitive

European regulators have received yet another complaint about Google’s business practices, and this time it comes from Fairsearch Europe, a coalition of Google competitors.

The complaint accuses Google of using the Android platform to build advantages for key Google apps, found on most Android smartphones and tablets.

It all boils down to Google’s bundle strategy. Phone markers that agree to use Google’s Android OS are contractually obliged to ship their devices with a range of Google apps. The coalition claims Google apps feature prominently on device desktops, although what they probably mean to say is that they are featured in the app drawer or launcher panes.

EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia did not comment the new complaint, but he noted that EU regulators have been examining Android independently for the past two years, the New York Times reports. However, they were trying to establish whether Google abused its dominant position in search, not whether it was unfairly bundling apps. Google isn’t keen to comment on the complaint, either.

Thomas Vinje, the lead lawyer for Fairsearch Europe, argued that Google’s practices result in unfair advantages, as Android powers over 70 percent of the smartphones shipped in Europe.

Nokia and Microsoft are members of Fairsearch Europe. Both outfits have dabbled in mobile operating systems, and both bundled their own apps on every single smartphone they ever shipped. 

Microsoft has played a similar role before, as an influencer on the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, ICOMP, which urged the European Commission to investigate Google for anticompetitive search practices.

It gets even trickier, as Android is an open operating system and the vast majority of consumers use Samsung, HTC, Motorola or LG gear. They all ship with custom launchers and apps. Only Nexus products boast a plain vanilla Android experience. 

In other words, Fairsearch Europe might as well be going after Samsung rather than Google.

HTC nicked Nokia's power-saving technology

A German court has decided that Taiwan’s HTC pinched Nokia’s power saving technology.

Nokia has been having a field day with HTC claiming that it infringed more than 22 of its patents with some of its products.

The German courts are the East Texas patent case magnets of Europe and a popular venue for those who own a few patents and want to find a sympathetic court.

The former rubber boot maker, Nokia, is reported to be pleased with the decision and said that the patent HTC will have to pay out on refers to a technology for saving battery power while connected to a network.

HTC shrugged and said that its German business would not be be affected by the Mannheim regional court’s ruling as it covers only three handsets that  the company no longer imports into the country.

It will appeal the decision while continuing efforts to have the patent declared invalid by the German Federal Patents Court and the English Patents Court.

Nokia has asserted the power-saving patent against HTC in the UK and at the United States International Trade Commission. A hearing on that will take place in the United States to start in two months.

HTC has paid Apple a bomb to make sure that Cupertino leaves it alone in its thermonuclear patent war against Android.