About a month ago, Microsoft organised a mega event to announce the launch of its latest set of Windows phones in India based on the updated Windows 7.5 or Mango operating system. The veteran software company, has recently been focusing on establishing its own operating software for mobile phones and has entered into a slew of manufacturing agreements with leading handset players like HTC, Acer, Samsung, and Nokia for launching Windows powered phones in India. A few days later after that event, Nokia hosted an even bigger do in London to unveil its much anticipated Windows offerings: Lumia 800 and 710, as well as four ‘Asha’ series smartphones aimed at the highly lucrative emerging markets.
The Nokia-Microsoft agreement, inked in February this year, has the potential to be a game-changer for Windows powered phones in India and other emerging markets. Despite its recent reverses in the handset market, Nokia still outsells other phone makers by a wide margin. And since players like Samsung, HTC and even Acer have a larger marketing focus on the established Android franchise, they will be lesser inclined to push Windows phones all that aggressively.
The launch of Nokia’s Windows powered Lumia phones have come at a critical juncture and just in time to test the waters during the Christmas holiday season in the Western markets. Apple’s iOS platform recently upgraded to iOS 5, while the latest version of Android — Ice Cream Sandwich — is about to become operational. BlackBerry OS 7 too has been recently launched. And in the midst of it comes the upgraded version of Windows 7, Windows 7.1, or Mango.
In recent times, while Google’s Android handsets have powered ahead, Microsoft was forced to sit on the fence. A key reason Microsoft could not make inroads in the smartphone space was its inability to get OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to pump out new handsets for Windows phone like they did for Android. Now, at last, Microsoft seems to have finally got that equation right and is keen on building the ecosystem for its Windows phone. And its agreement with Nokia is in piece with its new focus and thrust on getting its phone business hit the right notes in the marketplace.
Nokia’s marketing efforts and its deep knowledge of handset retail are likely to offer a big boost to sales of Nokia-branded Windows phones. Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop, while launching the Lumia-series phones said marketing spends on the Lumia will triple compared with prior product launches. Nokia has lined up 31 service providers, including Vodafone to win back market share from the likes of Samsung, and Apple. In India too, with its Asha series, Nokia is aiming to regain its 50% market share by 2012 with this offensive. Industry journal ‘Voice & Data’ reports that for the fiscal 2010-11, the Indian mobile handset market touched Rs 33,171 crore and Nokia’s share was Rs 12,929 crore.
And it’s not just Nokia that Microsoft is counting on to propagate its Windows mobile OS. HTC has already launched Radar and Titan while Samsung will soon introduce the latest Windows offering of its Omnia W range. Another OEM, Acer, too is gearing to launch its Allegro range. The Windows phone marketing campaign will use the distinctive USP of Windows phone interface — large, colorful tiles, unlike the smaller icons of the Apple and Android interfaces.
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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