Hey, top Nokia brass, could you please STFU now? And let your deeds do the talking
Especially up there at the top.
Could you please shut up now, and let the results of your work speak for themselves? Instead of creating wildly unrealistic expectations that are bound to backfire when not met.
You’ve been doing such a great job managing expectations prior to Nokia World and the launch of first Lumia handsets:
- Never committing to the first Windows Phone launch and shipment dates
- Insisting that first Nokia Windows Phones, even if they are launched in 2011, will not ship in big volumes. They will be there more to enter the market, show presence. Establish a beachhead as you say now. That’s it. Nobody expected any huge sales this year
- We knew that you will have something with WP Mango to show at Nokia World. But having the first phone ship few weeks after the announcement was a welcome surprise. Having the second one ready 3 weeks later, was even better
All in all, at Nokia World you did surprise us to the upside. For the first time in years you under promised and then over delivered.
And then you got carried away:
- It started small – with that clip of Nokia Lumia 800 being put in a box in Salo factory and shipped to the carrier stores. It was a neat trick for the keynote. The problem – it was just a trick. You then took 3 weeks to deliver the first Lumias to paying customers. And it certainly shouldn’t take 21 days for the phone shipped from Finland to get to the store in the U.K.
- Even before that, you started talking about enormous multi multi million marketing budgets, which are several times bigger than for any other Nokia product launch.
- And started touting unprecedented carrier and retail support. With 31 “operator and retail” partners in 6 European countries. Which, while technically may be true, was an exaggeration as perceived by the press and public. In most of Europe – carrier support is the key, while retailers matter much much less. Lumping both of them into one big number might make it more impressive to brag about, but does not help much beyond that. And, by my count, on Nov. 23d – one week after launch – you only had 14 carriers with Lumia on display.
- Then you started talking about record breaking Lumia 800 pre-orders. While the fact that those huge numbers were only on one network, and a part of the free XBOX offer that came with a new Lumia contract, was mostly drowned out by the noise.
- After that came reports on various Nokia and Windows phone fan blogs that Lumia 800 is the most popular phone on many carrier websites. Most of the reports had no relation to actual sales, but were promoted by your employees nevertheless.
All of this has created huge expectations for Nokia Lumia sales in Q4 2011.
We, tech press folks and some analysts, are pretty lazy crowd. When looking at what to expect from a new product launch, we will gladly fall back to something that we can easily compare it too. And what’s easier to compare Nokia’s Lumia launch to, then Symbian^3/Nokia N8 in Q4 2010? Both Lumia and S^3 were next generation devices. Both started shipping in the last quarter of the year (more or less). In both cases Nokia touted unprecedented carrier support, huge marketing budgets and record breaking pre-orders.
And we also know how many Symbian^3 devices you sold in Q4 2010 – 5 million. Which gives us a good benchmark of Nokia’s distribution and marketing strength for a new product line. The same 5 million. Some of us may take into account the shorter period of sales – launch in mid of the quarter instead of the beginning. But it still conditions us to expect 2 million+ of Lumias sold in 2011. And that does not even account for the overall smartphone market growth.
Which is all great, if you can hit those numbers. But a closer look into when and how Nokia Lumia 800 was sold during Q4, makes me think that 5 million is out of the question and even 2 million is highly unlikely. Given that during Lumia 900 launch at CES you did not mention how Nokia Windows Phones fared last year, the actual sales must be pretty low.
Which would have been OK, if you kept to that pre-Nokia World “beachhead establishment”, “not focused on high volumes yet” line, and haven’t hyped up expectations to such crazy levels. You have built enough of goodwill and understanding that implementing the new Windows Phone strategy takes time.
But now, if the actual sales numbers are as low as I think they are, you can expect a barrage of negative headlines about how Nokia Windows Phone strategy is failing, after you report results on January 26th. All that goodwill you’ve built up will be gone, and renewed excuses that everything is good and you never planned for big Lumia volumes in 2011 anyway, will sound pretty hollow.
Your sales&marketing people should have known and forecasted all this even before the first Lumia left Salo factory. Why the heck would you shoot yourself in the foot this way?
Which brings me to the U.S. Lumia launch. I can understand Jo Harlow hinting about frequent Windows Phone releases next year. You have a full year to work on it, and you can probably meet and even exceed that promise. But what the heck Chris Weber was thinking when he promised that “Rolling Thunder” for CES? Blown up Lumia 800 with LTE antenna, on one U.S. carrier? That’ it? That’s your rolling thunder? Really?
While at it, can you please stop taking pot shots at iPhone? You know – stuff like Niels Munksgaard’s “youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones” , or Marko Ahtisaari’s “iPhone UI is becoming more dated as we speak”. Until you have some Lumia sales numbers to impress us with, quips like that just make you look desperate and out of touch. It’s not yet on the level of Ballmer’s famous iPhone dissing in 2007, but you may get there pretty quick, if you continue this nonsense. Just forget about iPhone and Android when talking on the record, and focus on your own strengths.
And could you also ease up on that “Real Windows Phone” thing? Yes, it’s a catchy phrase, and I know Nokia is doing its best job on Windows Phone. But with 16 megapixel camera to brag about, HTC Titan 2 looks no less real to me than Lumia 900.
(Btw, what’s with that camera thing? With Nokia’s prowess and experience in digital imaging, close ties and work you are doing with Microsoft – how the heck HTC was able to leapfrog you in Windows Phone camera flagship department? At least in megapixel count – we’ll have to wait for some real tests to see about picture quality).
All things considered, you seem to be doing quite OK with the implementation of your new Windows Phone strategy. Better then many expected when you announced it on February 11th, last year. Do brag about that. Point it to everyone who cares to listen. Hype the best features of your new Lumia phones through the roof.
Just try to keep it real were future promises and expectations are concerned. And let the results speak for themselves.
It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.