Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Nerdgasm: Lumia vs ATIV

Today is a big day for Nokia as they announce their new Lumia devices that, unlike their other phones launched within this very year, will actually see the upcoming Windows Phone 8. They are slick phones with amazing build quality, top of the line cameras, and some fancy features like wireless charging (which I'm still surprised hasn't become a bigger thing. It was a huge selling point for me on the original Palm Pre)... but even though they have a lot going for them, so did their previous launch lineup, and they failed to make much headway in the heavily Android/iOS smartphone market.

To complicate matters even more, just a week or so before this, Samsung announced their new ATIV line. Like it's Android focused Galaxy line, the ATIV will be the moniker for a whole range of devices; but will be a strictly Windows affair. They announced a phone (ATIV S), tablet (ATIV Tab), and two transformer devices (ATIV smart pc and ATIV smart pc pro) at the event, all fairly similar to their existing products, which dominate their respective markets. Nokia, on the other hand, has been in a freefall.

There are four major issues at play here, all of which push me to believe that Samsung, if they dedicate some real power to the ATIV line, will rule the WP8 marketplace.

First, is the issue of who will be buying a WP8 device. In today's market, the only people that don't have smartphones are those who choose feature-phones on purpose. It is not due to lack of money, the fact their carriers don't provide them, or that they choose a pay as you go model. Smartphones are everywhere and at every price point. The hold-outs, are choosing to do that to either keep their bills down or because they just plain prefer separate devices for separate functions (relying on a PMP or tablet for their mobile/app needs).

So, if you are coming from an existing smartphone market, chances are high that it is Android (just based on statistics for which OS is most used). In the Android market, Samsung is not only market-leader, they are far and away leaders... meaning, that unless your experience was so bad that you're changing OS's to get away from Android, you will probably drift towards Samsung bc their similar design will make the transition a little less harsh. You may be jumping to a new software on the phone, but it will be familiar in your hand.

This rolls right into the second issue, which is that most people's last experience with Nokia was either before the feature phone era, or right at the start of it. Whereas, like I said above, Samsung has been destroying the marketshare since smartphones came to power. Not only that, but you probably have other Samsung items in your house/work/general-vicinity. I have a small LCD TV, a computer monitor, a smartphone, a tablet, and DVD player by them. My parents main electronics are Samsung... as are my grandfathers. We know them as a company; they have brand awareness and a good reputation for quality. Fighting against that is an uphill battle.

Third is general availability. The flagship product for Nokia right now is the Lumia 900, which is only found on ATT. Their lower-end devices are on T-Mobile and possibly Verizon (I haven't been shopping around for them so my memory is fuzzy). In comparison, Samsung's flagship, the Galaxy S III, is on every carrier in the states and a few you didn't know existed. Their lower-end devices are on everything imaginable. As great as Nokia's new phones are, they cannot convince me to change my mobile OS, mobile carrier, and mobile hardware manufacturer all at the same time. Samsung, will most likely launch on any platform willing to support WP8. They can throw the money at carriers, because they have it, and they can push their weight around because people want to stay on their good-side and get the next big thing they do.

Fourth, and finally, is the fact that the Lumia line looks great. Maybe even too great. What I mean is that there is a status quo with smartphones. If you have a crazy case, you are perceived as somewhat childish. If you have a crazy thick case, it can be inferred that you are a klutz and probably drop it a lot. If you always have the hit new phone, you're probably a rich snob that has to rub it in people's faces. Your phone is a statement about you to the world, just like your clothes,  hair, bag, shoes, etc. As great as the cyan's, maroons, and yellows, look... they stand out. And that's not always a good thing. Samsung phones look great but maintain a level of professionalism. Sure, Nokia sells black and white phones too, but it isn't what you see in the ads, and for an average consumer, it may turn them off before they step in the showroom floor.

If it isn't obvious, I just want to state that I really don't want Nokia to fail. Their Lumia devices look great and friends speak highly of their build and performance. But, if they hope to compete with a giant like Samsung, they needed to do a lot more than show faked PureView footage/photos and glossy phones. 

They may have been doing alright against the likes of HTC and Dell, but this is a whole other ballgame.

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