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March 10, 2012

Nokia's Windows Phone: Success or failure?

T-Mobile customer satisfaction
About a week ago Argus Insights said, in a blog post, that Nokia Lumia 710's customers are delighted, in fact far more delighted than iPhone 4S users. While that may appear so at first glance, a detailed analysis shows that it might not be the correct picture. But first, let see what Argus Insight says.

Argus Insights' view
As can be seen from the bubble chart, it appears that the early Lumia customers are delighted with the new Nokia/Microsoft handset Lumia 710, which still records higher satisfaction rate than other devices, especially iPhone 4S.

Lumia 710 is a budget phone targeted at the lower to mid end market, available for ~Rs15,500 (~US$300) in India and US$249+ tax in the US (US$199 for phone + US$50 for activation unlocked at T-Mobile).

Argus Insight says that this has attracted people sitting on the fence waiting for a cheaper smartphone.

Argus then compares the customer satisfaction across categories and that is very impressive for Lumia 710. There are overwhelmingly positive feelers.

All this is great - the last data point shows that Nokia Lumia 710 customers are more delighted than iPhone 4S and they are overwhelmingly positive across categories. Fantastic right? Maybe...Maybe not!

Trend is your friend
While the above bubble chart rightly indicated that the Lumia 710 users are more satisfied than iPhone 4S currently, it will be a lot more insightful to look at the trend.

So let's reconsider the bubble chart with the trend lines (trend lines are approximate since I only have the chart, not the underlying data). We will also extend the analysis from iPhone and Lumia to Galaxy Nexus.

iPhone 4S: Absolutely amazing. Consistent delight, for the entire period under consideration. No wonder it gets rave reviews and continues to sell well.

Galaxy Nexus: Well, look at the trend here. The first data point had much higher satisfaction rate, higher than even iPhone 4S, but after that the satisfaction index has fallen sharply and continues to go down.
Maybe, as the users got to know the phone better, their satisfaction with the phone went down. We don't have the breakup for individual areas, that would have helped us understand the situation better, so let's stop here saying that Samsung may want to look at this in more detail.

Nokia Lumia 710: Lets ignore the first data point of Jan 08, 2012 as its a clear outlier. Beyond that the trend shows that the satisfaction is declining, and rate of decline increased in the last week of Feb 26. So while the satisfaction is still higher, the trend line is going dangerously down. We can only speculate as to the reasons behind the decline.
One way to think of it is that Windows Phone is a very different OS, its UI is unique. Possible most people when they used it for the first time felt the freshness of the new UI and hence the very high ratings. So different was good initially. As time went on and people tried to do common things, some were left frustrated resulting in a decline in satisfaction. If this is the case than it is not very good for Microsoft and Nokia.

Lets try to see if we can gain some insight from the individual categories, even though we don't have individual trends.

The top 2 negatives for the phone are Quality/Reliability and Connectivity followed by battery and apps.

Since the Lumia 710 is targeted at the lower to mid end smartphone segment, the negatives for Quality/Reliability could well be a case of expectations mismatch.

But what is surprising is that Connectivity, for a Nokia phone, is the second most negative. I have always considered this as Nokia's strongest point, and I am surprised by this.  Nokia may want to delve deeper here.

The next two are battery and apps. Apps are not going to magically increase immediately and increasing battery life is not easy either. More than anywhere else, if the trend has turned negative here, it would be a problem, for Nokia/Microsoft.

When we look at the usage chart, what stands out is that the most talked about feature is web browsing. Important categories like social media are not really being talked about, even though a lot of focus of have been on them and how quick Windows can be used to connect to social sites like Facebook. Other categories like Movies and Work are completely absent. Not at all a healthy sign.

If Lumia 710 is not a success than is it a failure?
The above analysis might give a feeling that Lumia 710 is not a success among the early adopters, but that's not true. All it says is that from the available data it is difficult to say if Lumia 710 was a success or not. Mathematically speaking, the null hypothesis of Lumia 710 a success being proven false does not mean that it is a failure.

There are many key things missing from the analysis. For one, Apple do not have many phone variants, while Nokia has too many. Even the Lumia range includes Lumia 710, 800 and 900, so comparing iPhone 4S to just Lumia 710 is not the best thing to do.

Lumia 710 is also a budget phone, so 800 and 900 would have been better comparisons. On the flip side, a lot of the factors relate to the software, which would have been equally valid for the other versions.

Nokia's strategy
Nokia has started off well on the Windows front and has already become the largest Windows smartphone seller in the US with a 33% share, which will only increase in the next quarter.
What Nokia now needs is an complete and single smartphone strategy. Releasing dead end smartphones like PureView 808, no matter how great they are, may not be the best thing to do. Nokia is at an advance stage of closing down Ovi services, and with no alternatives, it will lead to dissatisfaction.

There are rumours that Nokia is developing a budget smartphone OS Meltemi. Nokia might want to steer away from such things as Meltemi will not become a smartphone OS if there is no app support (unless they can have a Windows or an Android app emulator). And if Nokia really needs a different low end smartphone OS, then Symbian and Meego could well be better.
Nokia may want to focus on Windows, even for lower end phones. Microsoft has released Tango update, which will allow the OS to run on lower spec affordable phones. 
In our opinion, Nokia should concentrate all its energy now on Windows as the fates of the two are linked together.

1 comment:

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