Nokia Lumia: Shedding Some Light

Malcolm is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

On Wednesday, Nokia (NYSE: NOK) introduced is new “flagship” Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8 OS by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). As fellow Fool blogger Cecil Stores has noted, it has failed to impress investors. In fact, the press is full of disappointing reports. Well, pundits may or may not have dumped on the phone, but what do they know? After all, so many of them were quick to predict the failure of the iPhone. With this in mind, let’s see if we can shed a little bit of light on the situation by looking at with some people have said.

One is in MarketWatch. Although that article really says nothing about the 920 itself, it prompted a remark:

Michael Lorenzo · ITT Technical Institute

..... it's people like you, who have no clue what good tech is, that keep trying to drag Nokia/MS down. The Lumia 920 has the best photo capabilities of any smart phone today (and I'm willing to bet post Sept 12th as well), sans the 808 Pure View. Has one of the nicest displays, best build quality THAT'S ORIGINAL and not an iPhone copy-cat. It runs one of the smoothest, if not thee smoothest, mobile OSes currently available…

Well, I’m not sure how Mr. Lorenzo can be so sure of all this without having used one, but he does make clear that there are a lot of Windows fans who will be happily awaiting the release.

Some other comments from website Branch are interesting:

Steve Kovach @stevekovach

I played around with both models this morning. (Had to woo a Windows Phone team member because we technically weren't allowed to touch.) The 920 is definitely a big improvement over the 900. Screen resolution/brightness are finally on par with Galaxy S III and iPhone. I noticed that right away. And the hardware features are impressive (camera, mittens-friendly touchscreen, wireless charging).

The problem is Windows Phone 8. Cool hardware tweaks mean nothing if Windows Phone 8 still stinks. I saw nothing in Belfiore's WP8 demo that blew me away.

The first paragraph paints a different picture from someone who has actually handled the device. The second paragraph, however, really gives the crux of the matter. It is echoed in the following comments.

Charlie Kindel @ckindel

The fact the software is not ready (has it slipped?) does not bode well. If the phones could have gone on sale TODAY...


Steve Kovach @stevekovach

MG – Agreed. I'm sick of seeing demos of unfinished stuff. Not trying to make excuses for WP8. Not at all. I think the more interesting theme here is that Nokia is forced to make hardware innovations (which it does well!) and hope and pray Microsoft doesn't screw up the OS...again.


So to my mind, this is what it really comes down to: The Windows Phone 8 OS. It seems as though Nokia has some really great hardware here. The question now remains whether or not WP8 will be able to deliver a good operating system. To my mind, this is going to be a critical issue. Microsoft needs to establish windows as a viable alternative operating system. It has to compare reasonabley favorably to Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS.

As another commentator on Branch noted:

Kirill Zubovsky @kirillzubovsky

Microsoft isn't after the iPhone with their W8 phones. They want to take a piece of the fragmented Android market, and they still have a chance.

I think that was a very perceptive remark.

With Samsung's big loss at trial against Apple, this is a much more relevant issue. There are now compelling reasons for OEMs to switch to WP8 - as long as MS can deliver!

Unlike most commentators, I don't think that this needs to be done overnight. Microsoft has very deep pockets and if they can just come up with a reasonably viable product, then they will stick with it until, in time, it will settle as a major player in the space. To them, Nokia is a step on that longer-term progression. We should remember that Samsung also has a new WP8 phone coming out shortly.

Nokia Mud in the Eye

The Verge reported “Nokia's new PureView ad is amazing, too bad it's faked”

This has been covered extensively in other media (an excellent post here) so I will not dwell on it except to say:

Nokia – shameful! It is disappointing that a trusted name would allow such a shady practice.

While Verge now has some new high-res photos taken with the 920, and they seem to best both Apple's iPhone 4S and Samsung's Galaxy S III (at least in low light situations), we need to remember that few people buy a smartphone solely on the basis of the camera. Again, the OS as a whole will have to hold up against iOS and Android. This remains to be seen.

All that aside

We appear to have a very solid device here. Unfortunately, the release is apparently held up by issue with WP8, precisely the area in which it most needs to excel. 

And so, the new Lumia 920 seems to have absolutely excellent hardware, but the ultimate success is going to depend on the operating system. And this is a factor which is up in the air.



Malcolm Manness has a Masters of Science degree in Computer Science, and has worked for 14 years in development, technical publications and software quality assurance. He has been investing for 20 years. Currently, he does writing, and FileMaker Pro programming on contract.

His short fiction can be found (under pseudonym J. Seunnasepp) at

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