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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: Its funny...
By inighthawki on 7/29/2013 4:52:27 PM , Rating: 2
I have. I've played with all of the different WP8 nokia hardware. It all feels exactly as I described. It's made of plastic, so that isn't much of an argument, and I also consider plastic to be low quality, hence cheap (I'd much prefer aluminum or if Microsoft made a phone with the same magnesium casing of the surface), and compared to various android phones and the iphone, the nokias feel extremely large and bulky.

RE: Its funny...
By inighthawki on 7/29/2013 4:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
I apologize, when you said 925 I was thinking about the 920. I have not actually seen the 925 in person.

RE: Its funny...
By JPForums on 8/1/2013 1:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'd much prefer aluminum or ...the same magnesium casing of the surface
I'm guessing you don't much favor the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4 either, as they (like the Lumia 920) are built primarily of polycarbonate. I'd take the Lumia 920 build quality over them any day. Admittedly, the Nokia is on the large side (4.5" screen) and definitely bulkier (large battery), but that doesn't bother me so much as I already sacrifice those to get extended battery life with (5") Samsung phones.

Now, the HTC One has a build I could get behind. If they'd just use the same (or very similar) chassis for their next WP8 (HTC 8?), Nokia would have something to worry about. The HTC 8X already has a fairly slim profile. The aluminum chassis (along with their other niceties) would set HTC's offering in its own class as a premium Windows Phone.

Frankly, I've never much cared for Apple's form factor. The combination of smaller size, softer aluminum (less rigid than HTC One), and screen material they use gives them a fragile feel in my hands. Though to be fair, I have meaty hands. They are more resistant to minor scraps than I expected, but it's still pretty easy to crack the display. The Galaxy phones feel worse as they have more flex, but their larger size helps a little. The Nokia 900/920 feels more solid to me. They aren't any harder to scuff than the Galaxy phones, but they are pretty resilient to meaningful damage. The HTC One feels the best in my hands by far. Though, a little more bulk for, say, a larger battery would be even better. Doesn't have a scratch on it yet, so actual durability is currently an unknown.

Now, the magnesium used in the surface is a very interesting prospect. I wouldn't mind the slight increase in weight and I believe it is more rigid and scratch resistant than aluminum. High quality indeed.

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