Windows Phone 8: Destroyer or Savior of Nokia Lumia smartphones?

On Thursday Microsoft surprised even the most people following the mobile and telecommunications business by announcing the drastically new features of their Windows Phone 8 (WP 8) platform; the new common core with Windows 8 (or just the ARM based Windows RT, maybe?), native code C++ and DirectX support for developers, support for higher resolutions (720p and 768p), microSD support, multi-core CPU support, the IE10 browser and lots more. The Metro user interface also gets a big revamp.

Developers are excited. Finally the constraints of the old Windows CE platform will be history. The dream of one Windows development platform takes a major leap forward. It might even become true if everything works as Microsoft has hyped.

Microsoft also announced these are just the platform changes developers need to know now. More consumer specific announcements were promised later this year.

However, there’s a big negative reverse side to these good news: WP 8 won’t become available to current devices. Current WP 7.5 smartphones will get the forth-coming WP 7.8 update which promises enhancements to the UI.  Most of the new features will require getting a new WP8 phone.

What does this mean for Nokia and other Windows Phone vendors? Surely, the forth-coming WP 8 smartphones will be more  tempting than today’s devices. But, Nokia despirately needs their current Lumia series Windows Phones devices sell now. They are losing market share and making losses at a drastical pace.

According to some early reports, operators are already hesitating and not stocking Nokia Lumia phones anymore. Wall Street Journal has also speculated this could put Nokia Lumia 900 sales on ice.

I also called a few Finnish mobile software developers. They said they will probably put all of their resources to future WP 8 devices, because there is such a small base of WP 7.5 users out there.

The danger of fragmentation is obvious. If you develop a nice application that fully takes advantages of WP 8, it won’t work on today’s WP 7.x phones.

Thus Microsoft makes a bold and risky move by changing the core of the Windows Phone platform, but it might be justified in the long term considering the benefits of a common Windows 8 platform. Device vendors such as Nokia have a bigger short-term problem explaining their customers why Lumia 900 and other new devices are soon obsolete.

Speculations about Microsoft bringing their own Windows Phone 8 device do not help the Windows Phone device ecosystem. Nokia seems to be the only vendor really pushing it, and Microsoft as a competitor would make it even less tempting.

2 thoughts on “Windows Phone 8: Destroyer or Savior of Nokia Lumia smartphones?

  1. People are saying Lumia is not selling even before this announcement and at the same time they are saying Nokia will upset a huge amount of people. lol. So which is it?

    The people buying WP7.5 dont care any of this. If they did they would buy the Android/Apple phones with better specs anyway.They are buying it for the current experience or because it say Nokia.

    For app developer other than games its pretty easy to target both 7.5 and 8 at the same time when Microsoft comes out with the new SDK. 7.5 will get apps for a long time but 8 will get improved version with native coding and better background functions if developer want to put it in. Sure, WP7 will be done at some point but not in the near future.

    I´m pretty sure Nokia will also announce more ”obsolete” phones because WP8 does not scale to one core at launch. And they will sell just fine to that crowd

  2. I think no one’s saying Lumias aren’t selling at all, but they’re not selling as well as Nokia has hoped for.

    I was personally very excited about the Windows Phone 8 announcement, and in the long term this is definitely good news. In short term it might be a problem for Nokia, if consumers and operators decide to wait for those WP8 phones that are expected to be launched at the Nokia World event in September.

    Indeed, if you want a Nokia smartphone, Lumia 800 and 900 are the best ones I’ve seen under their brand.

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