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After last week's launch of the Lumia 900, all eyes are on Nokia and Microsoft to see if their new partnership is a game changer in the mobile industry.
Following on from our post on Nokia and Microsoft last week, we've asked a few industry experts what their views were on the future of the partnership and how it will affect marketers and their future mobile campaigns.
Will Windows Phone be able to compete with iOS and Android this year with the release of Lumia 900? How will this change the marketplace?
Tim Dunn, Director of Mobile Strategy at Isobar
There is no doubt that in android and iPhone, Windows have some huge challenges ahead of them, but on the positive side both now find themselves in the rare position of being a challenger brand looking to break into the market, so there should be an open door to innovate, which is something they have been good at since the release of Windows Phone 7. The release of the Lumia though should be viewed as just one of the prongs of MIcrosoft's attack on the marketplace, with other relationships carrying equal importance, particularly in the US.
Benoit Maison, Managing Director at Vision Smarts
I think the Lumia 900 will sell well (from what I have read about Nokia and AT&T's promotional push), but it won't fly off the shelves and suddenly make Windows Phone competitive this year. At best, it will give Windows Phone and Nokia more traction with consumers and developers, and they can build on that with their next iterations. I don't think it is going to change the marketplace much for now.
Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence (SMI)
In selected markets the Lumia phones may sell. They will be more successful in Europe than in North America, where Nokia's brand remains relatively strong. Overall I see only modest success for Lumia in the aggregate.
Igor Faletski, CEO, Mobify
There's no indication that Windows Phone will be able to gain significant marketshare in 2012. Everyone's watching to see if new phones are exciting enough to get good sales over the holiday season. This would put Windows Phone on a growth track in 2013 and make it a real contender in the space.
What is at stake for Nokia/Microsoft if this new product doesn't take off? Will the partnership succeed, or will they run out of runway?
There is a lot at stake for Nokia, and I don't know how much runway they have left. It is important for Microsoft too, but I believe they are in it for the long run. They have demonstrated with Bing that they are willing to take losses for as long as it takes, and mobile is arguably even more important than search to Microsoft. After the launch of Windows Phone 7, I would have expected a quicker pace of updates to catch up with iOS and Android. Instead, they seem to be taking their time and prepare for a big Windows (Phone) 8 release across all device classes.
Nokia has a lot more to lose than Microsoft. Mobile is their essence and core business - they need to find a path forward. Microsoft has a much longer runway and ample room for experimentation but for Nokia, it's about survival.
For Nokia perhaps the company is at stake. While Nokia can continue for several years in its current condition, investors won't give Nokia many more chances to "turn it around." If Lumia fails to deliver against the hype the value of the company will further decline and investors will dump the stock, forcing Nokia to take drastic action and perhaps sell itself.
There's a lot of doom-mongering about the future of Nokia which is not justified, and I also think futures of Nokia and Windows Phone are not necessarily one and the same. Windows has put mobile at the core of its development of Windows 8, and I think that how this connection works is something that is not adequately addressed by many analysts. If the new Windows 8, together with an aggressive approach to tablets is successful, it will pull the mobile side of the business along with it - as users will want their devices to speak to each other. Windows Phone by itself I believe would struggle to survive if it was not supported by the wider Windows offering, but the picture is alot more complicated than that. However, time is tight of course, and with Apple, Samsung etc continuing to deliver innovation, Windows has to get products to market fast.
What would the impact of success/failure be for marketers?
If Windows Phone were to succeed it would represent another platform for developers and publishers to address. Marketers would be mildly inconvenienced by additional fragmentation in the market but it would not affect them dramatically. By the same token failure would also not have a dramatic impact on marketers since they're not addressing Windows Phones (for the most part) today.
For an online marketer, the trend of mobile and iPad traffic going through the roof will remain in force. If your website is smartphone-ready, Windows Phone 7 will bring a new audience that is eager to interact with your brand. If you haven't launched a mobile version yet, now is a good time!
The honest answer is that marketers are not thinking about this right now. Most businesses still don't have a credible approach to the mobile channel in general, so niche issues like this aren't really on the radar. In simple terms though, the more successful OS there are in the market, the more cost of app development goes up, so a conflation of the market around iOS and Android would have benefits
I can't think of any significant impact. This is not going to change the landscape overnight.
What advice would you give to marketers and developers in regards to their mobile strategy for this year? i.e. do they need a Microsoft mobile OS app strategy?
I'd recommend to hold off developing Windows Phone specific apps while the user base is relatively small. Invest in your web presence instead by making it mobile-ready. This way you will improve the experience for the iOS/Android audience, while preparing for Windows Phone device launches.
In 2012 marketers do not need a Windows Phone app strategy. If the Lumia phones take off they can revisit the issue in Q4 of this year. By the same token Microsoft is currently subsidizing mobile app development for Windows Phones. So if developers/marketers want to take advantage of that program it makes sense to create an app earlier rather than later.
My advice would be to first build the best cross-platform mobile web site they can, and probably stop there. 90% of apps don't need to be native, and the time of the vanity apps is long gone. Many indie developers are still sitting on the fence whether to develop for Android, so Windows Phone is even further away for them (unless they are a Windows shop and developing for Windows Phone is a natural choice).
At the moment it's a watching brief - clearly Windows Phone has a great UI that its users love, and the Lumia devices are very good. I hope that the user base grows so that we have a more competitive 3-way market as that's more healthy than the 2-way share most analysts are predicting. The demise of Blackberry is no loss to anyone who spends their life designing mobile UX as we do, but if Nokia and Microsoft and Nokia approach the market correctly, and position mobile within a useful ecosystem of devices, content and experience, I honestly don't see why they can't be successful in the future.