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5/8/2013
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Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?

Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone could be CEO Stephen Elop's last chance to soothe dissatisfied investors.

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Nokia needs a hero, badly. Despite its best efforts to make compelling Windows Phone smartphones, the company has not regained its lost market share. Investors are becoming impatient and want to see results. So far, there haven't been any of substance. There's a new smartphone on the horizon, however, that might give Nokia -- and CEO Stephen Elop -- one last chance to recover.

Let's rewind to February 2011. At an analyst event, then-new CEO Stephen Elop announced that the company would abandon Symbian, its homegrown operating system. Nokia called it a "burning platform," something from which it needed to jump to escape the fire. At that point, the iPhone and Android smartphones had decimated Nokia's once-powerful lead in the smartphone market. Elop convinced analysts and investors that this step was necessary, that it would help the company differentiate in the face of Apple and Google, and win back what it had lost.

Nokia and its line of Windows Phone products are certainly differentiated. They have their own approach to hardware design that really sets them apart. They have software that's customized beyond what Microsoft envisioned for its smartphone platform. In short, they are decent devices. But they aren't selling in the numbers that Nokia needs. Further, they aren't competing well with the iPhone and Galaxy S devices sold by Apple and Samsung at the high end of the market.

[ Is pitching a mock fit the best way to pitch a new phone? Read Nokia CEO Throws iPhone, Talks Up New Lumias. ]

Earlier this week, Elop faced investors once again. They are not happy.

One shareholder, Hannu Virtanen, spoke plainly to Elop: "You're a nice guy and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough. Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road." In other words, Virtanen believes that Nokia's choice to sell Windows Phones, rather than Android phones, was a bad one.

Nokia's Windows Phones are solid efforts, especially the top-tier ones, such as the 800, 900 and 920. All three show good design and innovative software. The 900 and 920 actually sold fairly well in the U.S. (compared to sales of Nokia's old Symbian handsets, anyway).

Later this month, Nokia will fully unveil the Lumia 928, its flagship smartphone for Verizon Wireless. This smartphone could be Elop's last shield with which to protect himself from antsy investors. The smartphone is shaping up to be a hero device in every sense of the word. Nokia has already teased images of it, as well as offered comparisons of its low-light camera powers. Pairing with Verizon Wireless, the country's biggest mobile network operator, could be what helps Nokia regain critical mass with American buyers.

If it doesn't, Stephen Elop may very well find himself out of a job. It doesn't help that Elop defended his decision to use Windows Phone, and admitted to investors (once more) that he has no Plan B.

"We make adjustments as we go. But it's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line," said Elop. "And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and (Google's operating system) Android."

Investors have their doubts. If the Lumia 928 doesn't mark a significant change in direction for Nokia's smartphone sales, Elop could very well find himself out of a job in the months ahead.

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AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/10/2013 | 12:57:57 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
Consumers tend to follow trends and fads. Essentially, everyone thinks they are cool and unique. But, in reality, they wouldn't be caught dead bucking the trend lest they be thought of as "un-cool". Unfortunately for Windows Phone, that means everyone is currently chasing the Galaxy (rising) and the iPhone (waning).

I hope Verizon can do justice to the 928 because quite frankly, Windows Phone is THE best overall phone OS on the market right now. This is especially true if you have an Office365 account to pair with it.
Jimmy_Jangle
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Jimmy_Jangle,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 1:57:19 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
"Virtanen believes that Nokia's choice to sell Windows Phones, rather than Android phones, was a bad one."

Yeah, and Nokia phones running Android drowning in a sea of mediocrity with other OEMs (HTC, Sony, etc) would be a FAR WORSE one.

Only Samsung is making any serious money off Android.
Jimmy_Jangle
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Jimmy_Jangle,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/9/2013 | 1:50:54 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
Please don't confuse Windows MOBILE 6 & 6.5 with Windows PHONE 7 & 7.5.

BTW "at least 3 Windows Phones" is a lie, all models with Windows Phone 7 were updated to 7.5 (and most to 7.8).
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2013 | 1:52:14 AM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
That was only true for the old phones that ran Win Phone 7+. The new phones won't have that problem.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2013 | 1:49:20 AM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
I think you guys get this whole thing about Nokia and Elop backwards (I know I'm talking to someone who doesn't bother to read our posts). I'm pretty amazed that reporting on this is so naive.

Look, the Nokia board didn't look around to find the best CEO candidate, and just happen to find Elop, a man who never ran a corporation, to be the perfect candidate. Anyone who believes that is lacking understanding of how this works.

In this particular case, I can assure everyone, Nokia had already been speaking to Microsoft about using their OS. Elop was hired out of those discussions. Of course he went to Win PhoneGÇöthat's why he was hired!

He may not be the greatest CEO, but this wasn't his decision. Does anyone really think that they hired a CEO out of Microsoft, and he just happened to decide, after great thought and reasoning, that Nokia needed to use the OS his former company was selling? Of course not!

So to lay the blame for going to Win Phone instead of Android, as many have done, on him, is wrong.

It may be impossible for Nokia to ever sell enough of these to maintain a major smartphone presence around the world, and the plans on how to crawl back up are mostly his, but not the decision to go with Win Phone, I can almost guarantee that.
hrrmph
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hrrmph,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/8/2013 | 5:59:46 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
I'm a Nokia fan from way back and would like nothing other than to see Nokia succeed, but:

- No Micro-SDXC slot;

- No WiFi-AC;

- No Dual-SIM; and

- Max internal capacity only 32GB

= another failure.

Nokia needs to differentiate themselves big-time to get people to open their minds about trying WinPhone8. The 928 just doesn't do enough to get there.

One feature doesn't do it these days. People are buying a package.

A flagship class phone has to be ahead in at least 3 areas that are important to the individual customer in order for them to say "I've got to have THAT phone."

-
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2013 | 5:33:10 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 928: Elop's Last Hope?
Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a wise decision. Nokia' s first taking of Microsoft's cash, then a CEO from MS, and finally standardize on Windows Phone OS has just about doomed this company. The Lumia 928 isn't going to set the world on fire because all previous Lumia's have NOT been upgradable. MS updates it's phone OS, your current Win phone is now trash. I've had four updates to my Galaxy Nexus and its still going strong meanwhile I would of had at least 3 window phones in the same time period Windows Phone 6.0, 6.5. and two versions of Windows Phone 7, all requiring new phones to run.
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