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Nokia says it's trying to explain to Microsoft that its current app efforts aren't good enough

Windows Phone is growing, but it is doing so very slowly.  And while Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) has captured most of those sales, spurring the Finnish phonemaker to a minor recovery, at least one executive at Nokia is taking Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to task for not doing more to make the platform a success.

I. "You Can't Sell a Phone Without the Apps"

Comments Nokia VP Bryan Biniak:

People rely on applications for their day-to-day life and if you don't have something which I use in my day-to-day life I'm not going to switch [operating systems] because I don't want to compromise the way I live my life just to switch to a phone.  It's not just about the hardware, it's about the tools that are on the hardware. You can't sell a phone without the apps, you just can't.

But the Nokia VP gives Microsoft a bit of a pass in the International Business Times interview, acknowledging that Windows Phone is "not even Microsoft's second, third or fourth priority."

Nokia Bryan Biniak
Nokia VP Bryan Biniak [Image Source:]

He compares the slow start of Windows Phone to Microsoft Xbox run.  Today the Xbox is the top selling console on the market, but when it first came out, it badly trailed its veteran rivals and many sneered at the prospect of a Microsoft gaming console.

Ultimately, the one place where Microsoft support is falling short, Mr. Biniak indicates, is with apps.  He remarks:

We are releasing new devices frequently and for every new device, if there is an app that somebody cares about that's not there that's a missed opportunity of a sale.  We are trying to evolve the cultural thinking [at Microsoft] to say 'time is of the essence.' Waiting until the end of your fiscal year when you need to close your targets, doesn't do us any good when I have phones to sell today.

To give you a reason to switch, I need to make sure the apps that you care about on your device are not only on our phones, but are better. I also need to provide you unique experiences that you can't get on your other devices.

On the hardware end Nokia has arguably held up its end of the bargain.  In the past year it has released 10 new Lumia models.  And rather than simply releasing yet another 1080p, Snadragon 600-powered big-screen smartphone, Nokia went a unique route offering a phone with more modest hardware, but with the best camera of any smartphone in the business (the Lumia 1020).  Nokia was rewarded with Lumia sales of 7.4 million units.  That's up 85 percent over last year's sales of 4 million in Q2 2012, and marks the first time Lumia sales passed sales of Blackberry, Ltd. (TSE:BB).

Nokia Lumia 1020

While Nokia lost less money then expected (€227M, versus an analyst consensus of €258.8M), it fell substantially short on revenue and narrowly missed analyst expectations of 7.8 million Lumia units for the quarter.

Apple, Inc. (AAPL) (who sold 31.2m iPhones in the quarter) is outselling Nokia roughly 4-to-1, while Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) is outselling Nokia roughly 3-to-1 with its Galaxy line, or 10-to-1 with its overall "smartphone" line (which includes non-Android, low-end models).

II. Nokia Plans to Fix App Shortage, With or Without Microsoft

As Mr. Biniak says, one major value shortcoming when it comes to Windows Phone is a lack of apps.  While Windows Phone has a number of great apps in its catalogue of 165,000 high profile apps, some high profile hits from other platforms are still missing.  Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android platform has over a million apps, while Apple's App Store has over 900,000 apps.  Windows Phone fans tend to dismiss this advantage, saying they'd rather have a better device than every app on the market, but even they must recognize that many buyers will simply refuse to make that choice and reject Windows Phone automatically as long as its app catalog remains anemic.

Windows Phone marketplace
Windows Phone's app selection still trails its rivals. [Image Source: WinSource]

Nokia isn't giving up on Microsoft and Windows Phone.  But it also isn't going to wait around for Microsoft to get serious about apps.  It's paying developers aggressively to port their most popular apps to Windows Phone.  Mr. Biniak, who helps lead developer outreach efforts, says:

[By the end of 2013] people will be hard-pressed to say '[Windows Phone] doesn't have this app' and it makes a material difference. I don't think there will be any [app developers] we don't have commercial agreements with, and so maybe it's not published by the end of the year but it will be published before the end of [March].

As a company we don't want to rely on somebody else and sit and wait for them to get it right.

That commitment will fix the issue of "select applications that need to be there", which aren't currently in the catalog, according to Mr. Biniak.  He just wishes his company's partner, Microsoft, was doing a bit more to help the cause, by the sound of it.

Source: International Business Times

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RE: WP8 user here
By Reclaimer77 on 7/29/2013 2:19:29 PM , Rating: 0
I don't think for the average person WP is really missing that many important apps.

Sure besides Google apps, you know, the most widely used mobile apps on the entire planet?

This alone makes Windows Phone a total non-starter. Apple has Google maps. Android has Google maps. Windows Phone does not, it's doomed.

Microsoft can't even get the freaking calender right. Outlook has to be the single worst mobile calendar I have ever seen! Google Calendar works flawlessly, syncs flawlessly, it's everything you could want.

RE: WP8 user here
By Mitch101 on 7/29/2013 2:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
You just make stuff up.

Nokia owns Navteq and Nokia Maps dont require a constant data connection for maps. Enjoy data overages using google maps.

We all know why you and retro are here your both Anti-Microsoft.

RE: WP8 user here
By Reclaimer77 on 7/29/2013 2:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
Nokia owns Navteq and Nokia Maps dont require a constant data connection for maps. Enjoy data overages using google maps.

How does this disprove or challenge anything I say?

So you're saying because there are viable alternatives to Google maps/apps, I'm just "making up" that they're absent on Windows Phone?

We all know why you and retro are here your both Anti-Microsoft.

And, again, that's just your biased take on this. For someone who's "anti-Microsoft", I sure use a ton of their products on a daily basis...

RE: WP8 user here
By Labotomizer on 7/29/2013 4:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose this Google maps app I have on my Lumina 928 is my imagination. It's 3rd party but has all the features and navigation. Although Here maps from Nokia is superior but you asked. I just thought you would like to know that.

Also, the YouTube app MS made is superior to Google's app on other platforms. So I have that as well. The only issue I have is lack of push email with Gmail due to ActiveSync support going way.

The only apps that are missing are smaller apps for specific companies.

RE: WP8 user here
By Reclaimer77 on 7/29/2013 4:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
Those aren't official Google apps though. Apps done by amateur third party devs are great. But as we've seen all too often, if something comes up in their personal life or they've just straight up decided to quit the project, you're SOL.

That's not going to happen to official Google apps. You'll also get timely updates too. Third party? That's not something you can assume.

The only issue I have is lack of push email with Gmail due to ActiveSync support going way.

That's kind of a big issue though, don't you think? Maybe not for you personally, but that's a non-starter for millions of people! No push Gmail's to my phone? No thank you.

Although Here maps from Nokia is superior but you asked. I just thought you would like to know that.

The "superiority" is opinionated, but kinda irrelevant. Point is there's millions of people locked into using Google apps for everything, whether that's right or wrong, and that makes switching to Windows Phone an even bigger hurdle.

This isn't about what platform is "better", that's not what I'm saying. Google apps could be the worst in the world theoretically, but if that's what everyone is using, it's a de facto standard.

RE: WP8 user here
By Labotomizer on 7/29/2013 10:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
You make some good points for sure. And I think we can have an honest discussion when we don't degenerate into insults. Gmaps Pro has been around for several years, I don't see it going away. It had new features before the official iPhone app did, such as the house layouts and mall mapping. I don't think this is being done by an amateur developer but I understand your point/concern.

As far as lack of Gmail push, I had it set to sync every 30 minutes when it still supported push on 7.x so to me it's not a big deal. I don't need my personal email in real time. I have to deal with that nonsense for work 24x7, plus the more push mailboxes you have the more it impacts your battery life. But for some people it's a bigger issue.

As for Nokia's mapping being superior to Google's, that isn't an opinion. The fact that I like the program better and the interface of their navigation better is opinion. That Navteq has more accurate data than Google maps and supports full offline mapping are facts that make it superior to Google Maps.

I'm pretty open to platforms though. I was burned by Android badly early on and just not interested in giving it another go. I think iOS is a very poor OS and I think their keyboard is absolute crap. That left Windows Phone as the best option for me. Especially since Email is the most important feature a phone provides, followed by texting and calling. The apps are a bonus. And Windows Phone isn't as far in apps as many make it out to be. But there are some that would be nice for many. Starbucks is one I've heard mentioned. I don't care as I think their coffee is terrible but some people love their Starbucks and the app makes payment easy.

I also think Nokia was smart to choose WP over Android or over both. By going just WP they get all sorts of special treatment from MS, have more input on development and got a bunch of money. On the flip side you have the option of going with Android, which maybe would have worked but it's hard to say. I think the HTC One is the only Android device I'd seriously consider to try Android again and it's done absolutely terrible. People are unpredictable. Nokia could have made the most amazing Android phone ever, say the Lumia 1020 with all the cutting edge features that people on this site find important, and it still could have flopped. Because right now it's Samsung that everyone wants. Next year it might be LG. Or maybe Apple again. Or, who knows, Lumia. It's finally hit critical mass on market share.

I was talking to the CIO of HEB, which is a massive grocery chain here in Texas, and I asked about their app on Windows Phone. He told me they were going to wait until it hit 10% market share in sales for a quarter. We're not far off. So we're close to the more specialized apps being developed for the platform.

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