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Posted by Katyayan Gupta on November 6, 2013
I attended this year’s Nokia World in Abu Dhabi on October 22 and 23 — perhaps the last one that Nokia will host to showcase its devices (Microsoft wants to acquire Nokia’s device and services business). And it seems that Nokia saved its best for last. The company announced its entry into the loosely-defined phablet category (smart devices with diagonal screen size of more than 5 inches but less than 7 inches) with two devices: a top-of-the-line flagship device, the Lumia 1520, and a more affordable version, the Lumia 1320. It also announced its first tablet, the Lumia 2520. It also launched three new Asha devices: Asha 500, Asha 502, and Asha 503. However, Nokia has neither announced the release date for its new devices nor identified which operators will carry them.
The event tag line was “Innovation Reinvented,” and Nokia did demonstrate many innovations, especially around imaging software. It launched new apps like the Nokia Camera, which combines Smart Camera and Pro Camera apps; Refocus, which adds Lytro-like variable depth of field; Storyteller, which integrates photos and videos onto HERE maps; and Beamer, which shares Lumia’s screen in real time over Wi-Fi or cellular networks.
In spite of these impressive product launches, I believe Nokia/Microsoft will face three key challenges in Asia Pacific:
Nokia is a late entrant in both the phablet and the tablet categories — markets in which Samsung and Apple, respectively, have already established themselves as the dominant players. To really challenge them, Nokia/Microsoft will have to work both on the product as well as sales and marketing side. This means reducing the time-to-market for new phones and Windows Phone updates, introducing innovative features beyond just imaging, competitively pricing their phones, and bundling exclusive content and services like navigation or music. In emerging markets like India, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nokia should offer its devices via interest-free equated monthly installment schemes, like Samsung does, to further lower barriers to adoption.