Nokia is releasing a new high performance, enterprise ready flagship device. Microsoft finally brings significant upgrades to its operating system and management portfolio.
The merger between Microsoft and Nokia may not be complete, but it is clear the two companies have not let that get in the way to combine their strengths to grow market share in mobile computing. For the first time in a dozen years of trial and error, I think the combination of these two companies may well be poised to get it right.
For its part, Nokia is reaffirming the breadth of its Lumia smartphone portfolio with three new handsets; a new flagship, the Lumia 930, and two mass market phones the 630 and 635. The combination could pose threats to both Apple and Samsung.
For business users, the new flagship Lumia 930 is of the greatest interest. If (and it is a big IF) Microsoft / Nokia can fix its miserable retail distribution, the 930 could squeeze Apple in the high-end market segment. Currently shipping Lumia’s will also receive the new Microsoft’s 8.1 OS, as an update. The 930 features a 5-inch full HD 1080p display. The 930 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The 930 has a 20-megapixel rear camera with ZEISS optics, optical image stabilization, and an array of four microphones for high-definition audio recording. I find the Lumia 930 a much better blend of meeting consumer and enterprise requirements than earlier releases.
On the low /mid tier, the 630/635 could create challenges to the success of Apple’s 5c – a call to arms that clearly has not been answered by Samsung.
If you are a business traveler, you will appreciate that the Nokia devices are far less fragile to the screens cracking or their cases visibly scratched or dented than other manufacturers without wrapping the phone in some gaudy prophylactic.
The new Cortana voice personal assistant – Microsoft’s answer to Apple Siri’s – is smart in that Cortana can “learn” about you through other information threads on your device. For example, when I asked “what does the weather look like for me tomorrow,” Cortana was smart enough to tell me about what the weather was going to be in the city I was traveling to overnight.
Microsoft has dropped all OS licensing fees on its consumer skews for designs with screen sizes below nine inches in what clearly is a jab at Google. Microsoft is merging its Windows Runtime Engine (formerly known as WinRT) into Windows Phone 8.1. The most significant aspect of this move, is that it essentially takes API conformance from ~30% to near 100%. Microsoft is also making significant updates to its Windows Intune mobile management platform that may render independent boutiques to be used as glue to older enterprise infrastructure.
I am very intrigued by what appears to be a seismic shift that is taking place at Microsoft. Microsoft is unapologetic about showing off iOS, web and Android cross platform capabilities. The company has clearly – and perhaps wisely – decided that it may not be able to control the mobile platforms wars, but it damn well thinks it can manage the solution sets.
If the complaint about Microsoft was that it moved to slow, too cautious, or just plain stupidly in mobile, the new complaint might be that Microsoft, through its announcements, is being more aggressive than it can practically pull off.
Microsoft is taking on the herculean task of playing two sides against the middle; make its own devices, provide new incentives to OEM’s, and by expanding its management and back office platform. I find the strategy refreshing, if not so aggressive that it may well bring new challenges to an untested CEO to keep what’s important, important, across all the various engineering centers.
One thing is clear, if Microsoft/Nokia pulls this off, it’ll be like water in a dry riverbed for many a CIO who would prefer to deliver their mobile computing solutions in a responsible way by combining the needs of both employees as consumers, and IT.