Nokia brought to public two new smartphones, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920. They are first two Nokia phones running Windows Phone 8. Now, we all know that older Lumia models (610, 710, 800 and 900) are going to get a limited update called Windows Phone 7.8, but the “real” Windows Phone 8 is not going to be available as update to the old devices.
In addition to that, we know that any apps done for Windows Phone 7.5 (or 7.8) will run in new Windows phone 8 devices, but not vice versa. It is up to Windows Phone developers to see that they make their apps to run in 7.8 devices. I would assume that to be most usual case if they wish to see their app being run in any devices, since there are no Windows Phone 8 devices on market yet. (Instead, we know that there are 7 million Nokia Lumia devices in shipped by end of June alone.)

At this point we get lots of talk how Windows Phone 7 has been “Osborned”. I already wrote about this not being true. Basically this falls into the question if Nokia can sell Windows Phone 7 devices after WP8 devices are in the market.
I have said it is same situation as Nokia faced when launching Symbian^3: older devices did not get an update and Symbian^3 apps would not run in older devices.
Tomi Ahonen was probably making most noise then. He described devices running older version of Symbian OS as “expensive paperweights”. Tomi was so sure then that Nokia will not be able to sell a single device shipped with the older version of Symbian (and therefore not able to run apps done for Symbian^3 devices). Of course we know that turned out to be not true, but I have this text:

So we get two new smartphones – C7 and N8 – that run Symbian^3 (the older Symbian models are now totally obsoleted, ‘Osborned’ in fact, as they are not compatible and cannot be upgraded from current version to Symbian^3). Understand what it means. It does not mean that Nokia has now expanded their offering by 2 new smartphones – where we might think Nokia grows sales say from 26.5 million last quarter to 28.3 million soon. No. Rather, Nokia has regressed to 2 marketable Symbian models. This cannot help Nokia grow, this is likely to produce a Nokia sales regression, dimishing versus this year Q3 when Nokia managed 26.5 million total smartphone sales.

Yes, Tomi was quite persistent that nobody buys the older Symbian devices anymore. And it was not just the devices, it was apps too. (That time Ovi Store.) I think it was this:

So, you thought that Nokia and Symbian^3 software show was somehow cool? Mapping, navigation, please.. 25,000 Symbian apps in the Ovi Store – this before we zero the installed base now with Symbian^3 once again. And yes, some people do buy smartphones because of their apps, but come on, iPhone and Android have 300,000 apps each. Its not even close!

If you are like many heavily addicted consumers of smartphones, youth, business users, young adults etc – Facebooking, Twittering, SMS texting and emailing – then the lack of QWERTY will drive you to rival smarpthones. If you are truly after those apps, then you go for an iPhone or Android. Why would anyone bother to buy this lame compromise.

Of course we know Tomi was dead wrong. But considering the 2010 app counts mentioned above, situation seemed probably disastrous. But you see, Nokia is in a situation we’ve seen before. And even now – 2012 – Nokia is STILL selling phones with older version of Symbian and no update to Symbian^3.
So Tomi’s doomsday speech was for nothing.

Honestly, this time Windows Phone 7.5 devices DO get update, so it’s far better situation than when N8 and C7 entered the market. Actually so much better that Tomi Ahonen wants probably calm us down. If I remember correctly, he said recently:

Windows Phone is now shipping its version 8 which by early reviews seems good enough, but by no means better than the leaders like the iPhone or Android. But Windows Phone has come a long way and is now a viable touch screen UI.

Moreover:

Most of all, is the migration of Nokia’s portfolio to Windows Phone. That was a time-consuming long journey, it is not over, but it is now far along. Soon Windows Phone will be ‘just as good’ as most in the multi-touch experiences. That will bode very well for Nokia smartphones. Nokia’s touch screen interface will not need to be ‘better’ than the iPhone – nor even ‘as good as’ the iPhone, as long as Nokia’s touch screen interface is ‘good enough’. That was the lesson we learned in the PC industry with Windows vs Macintosh. The Mac was always better. Always! The early Windows versions were horrible up to Windows 3.0 in 1990, when finally Microsoft released an ‘Macintosh clone’ that was good enough. Not as good, but good enough. And the rest is history. Microsoft used its scale to crush Apple, even where Mac was always better. That is where we are with Windows Phone today. It need not be better or even as good as the iPhone. All Windows Phone needs, is to be good enough. It is very likely that the current new about-to-be released version is good enough (that powers the Lumia 920) but even if its not quite there yet, Microsoft will keep evolving and improving the touch screen parts of the OS, and will become good enough, soon enough.

There is the new Lumia 920. It seems by early opinions to be a long-overdue hit flagship for Nokia. Remember that Nokia’s last succesful flagship – the N8 – handily outsold the iPhone globally. Nokia has the carrier relationships to turn a good phone into a big hit and the Lumia 920 seems to be very well poised to do well. It comes to a crowded market with the Samsung Galaxy S III now the big dog of the yard, with the coming iPhone 5 a very strong contender, and various other superphone wannabes, from HTC, RIM and others out there. But Nokia has the world’s best carrier partner network – if the carriers like the Lumia 920, it will become the planet’s best-selling superphone, almost by default.

I know, it’s surprising from Tomi to say that. But hey, considering what I just said, the man is right. Let me check my notes…

CORRECTION:

Wait, something goes wrong…
If this is page 3, where is page 2?
I think I messed the dates…
Oh, no! I am so sorry, my booking was a mess. Tomi said EXACTLY the opposite:

Symbian is now shipping its S^3 version which by early reviews seems good enough, but by no means better than the leaders like the iPhone or Android. But Symbian has come a long way and is now a viable touch screen UI.” [1]

Most of all, is the migration of Symbian OS to touch screens. That was a time-consuming long journey, it is not over, but it is now far along. Soon Symbian will be ‘just as good’ as most in the multi-touch experiences. That will bode very well for Nokia smartphones. Nokia’s touch screen interface will not need to be ‘better’ than the iPhone – nor even ‘as good as’ the iPhone, as long as Nokia’s touch screen interface is ‘good enough’. That was the lesson we learned in the PC industry with Windows vs Macintosh. The Mac was always better. Always! The early Windows versions were horrible up to Windows 3.0 in 1990, when finally Microsoft released an ‘Macintosh clone’ that was good enough. Not as good, but good enough. And the rest is history. Microsoft used its scale to crush Apple, even where Mac was always better. That is where we are with Symbian today. It need not be better or even as good as the iPhone. All Symbian needs, is to be good enough. It is very likely that the current new about-to-be released version is good enough (that powers the N8) but even if its not quite there yet, Nokia will keep evolving and improving the touch screen parts of the OS, and will become good enough, soon enough.” [2]

There is the new N8. It seems by early opinions to be a long-overdue hit flagship for Nokia. Remember that Nokia’s last succesful flagship – the N95 – handily outsold the iPhone globally. Nokia has the carrier relationships to turn a good phone into a big hit and the N8 seems to be very well poised to do well. It comes to a crowded market with the Samsung Galaxy now the big dog of the yard, with the iPhone 4 a very strong contender, and various other superphone wannabes, from Motorola Droids to Blackberry Torches to Lenovo LePhones out there. But Nokia has the world’s best carrier partner network – if the carriers like the N8, it will become the planet’s best-selling superphone, almost by default.” [2]

So we get two new Lumia smartphones by Nokia that run Windows Phone 8 (the four older Lumia models are now totally obsoleted, ‘Osborned’ in fact, as they are not compatible and cannot be upgraded from Windows Phone 7.5 to 8.0). Understand what it means. It does not mean that Nokia has now expanded from 4 to 6 Lumia models – where we might think Nokia grows sales say from 4 million last quarter to 6 million soon. No. Rather, Nokia has regressed from 4 to 2 marketable Lumia models. This cannot help Nokia grow, this is likely to produce a Nokia sales regression, dimishing versus this year Q2 when Nokia managed 4 million total Lumia sales” [3]

So, you thought that Nokia and Windows software show was somehow cool? City Lens? Yeah, nice AR application for Windows Phone, but its just what….. 3 YEARS behind the AR apps we’ve seen on Androids for example and that ‘obsolete’ OS called Symbian.. Mapping, navigation, please.. 100,000 apps in the Windows Phone ecosystem – is only now catching up to that ‘obsolete’ ecosystem of Ovi

Store and Symbian – which by the way had far more carrier billing support and a 20x bigger addressable market size so if you are an app developer and want to earn millions, rather than thousands, you should sell to Symbian/Ovi not Windows Phone – this before we zero the installed base now with Windows Phone 8 once again. And yes, some people do buy smartphones because of their apps, but come on, iPhone and Android have 500,000 apps each. Its not even close!

If you are like most consumers – and like the Nokia research itself revealed about Nokia smartphone users this Spring – then the camera is your number 1 priority on a smartphone and Nokia’s Lumia 920 fails you, at least compared to past flagships by Nokia. If you are like many heavily addicted consumers of smartphones, youth, business users, young adults etc – Facebooking, Twittering, SMS texting and emailing – then the lack of QWERTY will drive you to rival smarpthones. If you are truly after those apps, then you go for an iPhone or Android. Why would anyone bother to buy this lame compromise.” [3]

So let me put this again:

Nokia is in a situation we’ve seen before. And even now – 2012 – they are STILL selling phones with older version of Symbian and no update to Symbian^3.
So – in my opinion – Tomi’s doomsday speech was for nothing.

Now one can say that there is one difference – the huge installed base of older Symbian smartphones. I do admit that is a difference. It affects directly the time after which WP8 devices for a large enough fraction of WP installed base (thus enabling developers to do “WP8 only” apps). Another variable that defines the time needed for that is units of WP7 devices that will be sold still after WP8 launch.
Older Symbian models were majority of Nokia’s sold devices for at least Q4 2010 and Q1 2011 (assume not anymore, though). Nokia has 4 WP7 devices and 2 WP8 devices in their portfolio.
Sales figures of Q4 2012 will tell us some direction for that, if we get any breakage between WP8 and WP7 devices unit counts.

Of course times have changed and people follow more closely the OS versions and device updates. Yet we can say that future will tell exactly how well Nokia can keep portfolio of 6 Lumia devices.

(And yes, I know the amount of discussion this probably brings in.)

UPDATE:

In December 2012 Lumia 800 was most sold phone in Finland. (Not 920 or 820 that runs Windows Phone 8). (visit link)

REFERENCES:

[1] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2010/11/bloodbath-update-whats-up-with-samsung-android-sonyericsson-and-the-others.html

[2] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2010/09/welcome-stephen-elop-to-best-job-in-high-tech-new-ceo-for-nokia.html

[3] http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/09/failure-version-2-nokia-lumia-relaunch-with-windows-phone-8-is-also-a-total-dud.html

Guideline for commenting:
I hate the way Tomi Ahonen deletes criticizing comments from his blog. However, I plan to follow three of his principles: I’ll delete comments that are

  1. Personal insults to someone
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In addition, if you wish to challenge my previous posts, please comment to those.

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