So let’s get this straight: Nokia released its brand new smart phone on Sunday and it’s basically mimicking what Apple (AAPL) pioneered a few years earlier except that it’s running Microsoft (MSFT) Windows, doesn’t work as well, but costs half as much.
The 1990s called, it wants its PC market back.
Nokia (NOK) could easily have slipped out of the collective consciousness of the cell phone market. After watching its shares soar at the start of the 21st century, the tech company slipped and fell by the wayside, letting competitors pass it by. Now, Nokia is making a serious bid to return to relevance with its Lumia 900 smart phone.
Windows-Based Smart Phones Fighting for Space
While the smart phone market is currently more than dominated by Apple and the iPhone, some might scoff at the idea of Windows-based phones making in-roads. But then, those people may be forgetting the history of the company. Apple was once one of the strongest computer companies in the world, offering a widely available computing system based on a visual interface with a mouse before anyone else and cornering the market. What happened? Microsoft and Bill Gates imitated the idea, undercut Apple, and eventually relegated Steve Jobs’ company to a maker of high-end, niche computers with a relatively small market share.
Now, with the market for smart phones still in its infancy, Nokia appears to be rolling the dice on a similar strategy, offering their well-regarded new phones at prices much lower than Apple’s iPhone. And, once again, it’s Microsoft and Windows that are trying to take a shot at Apple’s dominance.
The new Nokia Lumia 900 is available for $100 retail, with Amazon (AMZN) offering an ever better deal with the phone going for just $50. In its first day of release, the phone showed solid sales despite coming out on Easter Sunday, a day when many retail stores are closed. No doubt buoyed by its attractive price, sales helped catapult the phone to the top of Amazon’s smartphone rankings on Monday after the phone debuted at number five on Sunday.
Smartphone Market Still Undefined?
The Windows phones are entering into a market that is still largely undefined as the product has only been available for about five years. While windows phones are clearly coming in a distant third to iPhones and Droids, where things will go over the next few years is hard to say. With attractive pricing (costing about half what a new iPhone would), Nokia could be seeking out a potentially untapped market of users who weren’t early adopters but are now ready to buy.
However, Michael Miller of PCMag seems to believe that the Lumia 900 is not the device that will take Windows phones to the next level.
“People who follow mobile phones often talk about ‘hero phones’—high-end devices that truly define a platform and get people into the stores. Apple’s iPhone 4S is one, of course, and Apple is unusual in that the bulk of its sales come from that phone (though the 4 and the 3GS are also still sold),” he writes. After describing the phone and its features, Miller comes to a firm conclusion: “So overall, the Lumia 900 is a very attractive phone, but not quite the “hero phone” that Microsoft and Nokia seem to need here. If you’re in the market for a Windows Phone, the Lumia clearly sets the standard with its modern design and LTE support.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Whether or not Microsoft will be able to undercut Apple once again, offering a very similar if lower quality device at a much lower price, has yet to be seen. For the time being, Nokia and Microsoft are still clawing for a piece of a market that Apple itself invented and continues to dominate. However, for the folks at Apple, the $100 price-tag on the Lumia 900 may have some worrying about a case of history repeating.