Analysts have welcomed the launch of Nokia's new Lumia handsets but warned the manufacturer that it must do more to capture the public's imagination at the point of sale.
In what has been dubbed as a make or break move for Nokia, the company announced two new handsets yesterday (5 September), the high-end Lumia 920 and mid-tier Lumia 820.
Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC, said: 'From a hardware perspective, the new Lumia 920 can compete head-to-head with any of the current high-end smartphones on the market. The Lumia 820 is also a very interesting proposition in the mid-range segment to compete with Android, both in terms of specs and design.' However, the launch failed to impress investors, with Nokia's share price falling by as much as 15%.
The manufacturer faced further embarrassment when it had to reveal that a video showcasing its new optical imaging stabilisation (OIS) feature, which eliminates blurry images, was not shot with a Lumia 920.
Analysts said Nokia's use of the new Windows Phone 8 operating system could give it a boost in its bid to claw back market share from Apple and Android devices. David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa, said: 'With a few new standout features in the Lumia 920, such as the impressive screen, PureView, OIS and wireless charging, added to a host of peripherals and Nokia's new class of navigation and mapping services, the device is undoutbedly a desirable, impressive piece of kit.'
However, there was consensus that Nokia still faces challenges in translating the features of the phone into impressive sales. CCS Insight MD Shaun Collins said: 'The success of these phones will depend on more than just the devices themselves. Support from network operators and retailers will be vital. To change the current preference for Apple and Android phones, Nokia and Microsoft will have to spend eye-watering sums on marketing and offer the new phones at aggressively low prices.' Collins said one of the main challenges facing Nokia is timing, with the new iPhone widely expected to hit shops before the latest Lumia devices.
IDC's Jeronimo said the next two quarters will define Nokia's future. He said: 'Nokia needs to excel at the point of sale, where the value and experience becomes meaningful to end users. Training programs, retail demonstrations, sales commissions, advertisement etc will make the difference. This war will be won by those that implement the best below-the-line activities.'
While Informa's McQueen agreed that Nokia's ability to communicate with consumers at the point of sale was critical, he felt the devices could capitalise on an upsurge of interest in Windows Phone 8. He said: 'With this latest solid array of quality smartphone products and differentiated services, the company may have finally bottomed out in the smartphone market and its WP8 devices look set to mark the true beginnings of its climb back into the affections of the smartphone user.'
Jeronimo added: '[Nokia's] portfolio is right and competitive from a design and specs perspective; the services are available; the company has concluded (or is about to conclude) an important internal restructuring; the OS ecosystem is growing fast; feedback from Windows Phone users is extremely good; and [with] the latest Microsoft announcements on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 will represent a major opportunity. The time has come for [Nokia CEO] Stephen Elop to prove his strategy was right.'
Editor: Graeme Neill