Friday, July 12, 2013

Ovum comment: Nokia Lumia 1020 sets new smartphone benchmark but pricing will be key

Nokia’s latest Lumia 1020 finally marries Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software with the 41MP over-sampling camera technology the company previously marketed in the Symbian PureView 808.

Tony Cripps, Principal device analyst at Ovum believes “The combination sets a new benchmark for high-end smartphone engineering – and a timely reminder of Nokia’s R&D capabilities – but the company must still overcome incumbent rivals, slow adoption of Windows Phone and a modest marketing budget if it is to finally help the company turn a financial corner after its recent time in the doldrums.”

Cripps continues:

 “At a time when macro-level innovation has seemed to be lacking in smartphones – due to the homogeneity of smartphone operating systems and the drive to appeal to the mass market – Nokia’s Lumia 1020 demonstrates that there is still considerable scope to drive forward the user experience in core smartphone capabilities. This is evidenced not only in the Lumia 1020’s imaging prowess but also in its audio abilities, the company’s Rich Recording technology similarly transforms the Lumia 1020’s audio recording.

“Both imaging and audio are key areas of investment for Nokia and crucial to its long-term strategy of rebuilding market differentiation. This is true not only at the high end, where the Lumia 1020 will be something of a beacon, but also further down the range as the fruits of Nokia’s labours begin to trickle down through the midrange towards the value end of the smartphone spectrum.

The previous PureView 808 gave a tantalizing view of what was possible in terms of phone imaging but felt squandered in the context of its geriatric operating system and aesthetically compromised by a cumbersome – if impressive – camera module.

“The Lumia 1020 addresses both issues. While the new camera module contributes to a device that is noticeably thicker than the existing flagship, the Lumia 925, it is small enough to avoid the chunky and top-heavy design of its PureView 808 forebear. The PureView user experience is similarly upgraded through its integration with Microsoft’s elegant Windows Phone 8 platform, which itself benefits from a flagship device featuring category-leading imaging technology.

Supermodel must show its class not become a cheap date

“Nonetheless, while the Lumia 1020 looks to be the new belle at the smartphone ball, its debut will not necessarily attract a mass of suitors. Most obviously, the device will be expensive. Pricing has yet to be revealed but engineering of the kind on offer in the Lumia 1020 does not come cheap. Aggressive operator subsidies would no doubt help in that regard, but might detract from the device’s premium engineering and user experience.

“Furthermore, Nokia, and Windows Phone more generally, still suffers from a lack of consumer awareness and marketing dollars compared with their key rivals, Apple and Samsung-plus-Android. While this situation is undoubtedly improving, these factors continue to put off many prospective consumers due a greater chance of favorite applications being unavailable.

As such, when lined up against rival devices such as Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S4, which now effectively sell themselves, the case for selecting the Lumia 1020 is less clear cut.

Nokia may still have work to do to convince prospective buyers to sacrifice favourite apps for superior imaging. But for those who are less concerned about specific third-party apps or in need of something different, the Lumia 1020’s pictures provide a thousand reasons to look again to Espoo.”

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