MNB RG: Discussion with Nokia folk at GITEX Tech week, Dubai: PureView, Lumia, Future Symbian products?
Vineet Shrivastava emailed us some notes he made after having a chat with some Nokia folks at GITEX Tech week in Dubai.
Quite an interesting discussion. I’ve inserted my own feedback in italics.
Caught up with few Nokia folks (Middle East ___________ Manager and Middle East ________Manager) at GITEX Tech week in Dubai. All were 7+ years at Nokia and two were Finnish (one was Arab).
1) Surprisingly, they had Nokia 920 demo units with WP8.0 in their hands and were showing off ‘parts of it’ but on insistence were allowing us to hold it in our hands and have a casual supervised look around (But Joe Public could not come up and go through them). This maybe due to the HTC unlocked video demo by T-Break at the GITEX shopper event about a week prior to GITEX Tech Conference.2) Pointed out to Microsoft *something* of Developer Relations (din’t quite catch her badge right, it was erm…,dangerously placed) at the adjacent stands that now that we’ve seen WP8, could be have more details? She freaked out and was surprised and just kept saying don’t say anything about it to anyone. Was aware of the HTC fiasco but unaware of Juggernaut Alpha (or feigned very well).Now had two conversations with the 2 main Nokia people (a woman who is the Head of Brand Marketing (___________) and 2 guys in _________ (___________))3) ___________ guy confirmed the 820 inductive charging cases add no thickness and that none of the 920’s thickness is due to the inductive coils (this is not true, the 820 charging cases are about 1 mm thicker). I pointed this out and he said oh it’s tiny, not really thicker. 10.7mm – 1mm = 9.7mm. Much more acceptable.4) ____________ guy indicated most of the bulk of the 920 came from the camera assembly and not from the wireless charging feature (I don’t believe him…entirely)
This is the PureView bit below that I found interesting.
5) In a 3 way discussion, they seemed surprised at the feedback towards the OIS and Pureview dilution/Pro issues. Apparently, internally, it was expected that OIS and improved low light photography would be seen as a bigger breakthrough than a larger MP camera. After all, the 41 MPs and oversampling only offer lossless zoom without bulky and noisy optical zooming whereas OIS offers a significant low-light breakthrough. The other image QUALITY improvements in the 808 come from the huge 1/1.2″ sensor and not the high number of pixels on it. Basically a 1/1.2″ sensor with 12 (or indeed 8 megapixels) would offer comparable quality and better lowlight performance (then the 808) but no lossless zoom.
Would PureView V3 see 41mp with huge sensor and lossless zoom join OIS (so your zoom would be super stable at telephoto end) or would it be enough to have a 12mp camera, but with a huge sensor still and OIS? Low light would definitely be something else unheard of in a phone. But for marketing purposes, 41MP would indeed be a killer. You know, if Nokia bothered.
6) Asked ___________ if there might be further Symbian products, she said “there could be“. She insisted Symbian wasn’t legacy yet even though I insisted that it clearly was if PR-speak was ignored. She stuck to her guns. I asked if a multi-touch keyboard update (From Belle FP2) will be made available to N8 and siblings, she said she wasn’t sure.
Interesting comment above on the possibility of future Symbian devices or could be PR stuff. They can’t really comment on future stuff though I bet if you asked if there’d be ‘future’ WP they would say yes more instantly…or not?
7) Asked about biggest threat. Named Samsung not Apple (this is true in Middle East in India). Spoke about Samsung replacing basically every Nokia branded retail Store in Middle East and India, she responded by saying they weren’t particularly worried and it makes more sense for Samsung since they sell a full portfolio of electronics as opposed to Nokia. Not sure if cutting back on the retail stores is a concious decision or just that they have a very good excuse for it now that they are forced to..
8) Asked about Premium pricing of Nokia flagships and will there be adjustment considering Samsung is a lot more confident in its pricing (hiking it 10-15% twice in past 2 years) and HTC which used to have premium prices is now adjusting downwards in response to the competitive pressure. She responded by saying that once WP8 was out and released, they will assess where they stand in the competitive landscape and price the handsets accordingly. (This was not convincing. Pricing would be sealed at this stage and they know for sure where they stand).9) I homed in on the “where they stand part” and they clearly know what the landscape is like and would have for past 1 months. She re-iterated (very friendly way) that once Microsoft releases full OS they will know since there are still some things unfinished and under development (Again, not convincing. Feature freeze would have happened eons ago. It’s only a matter of polishing n making it work “well”. The exact feature mix would be internally known for weeks if not months).
10) Asked about possibly similarities in pricing to the US market where they undercut competitors with 900 pricing. She said that’s a carrier market whereas Middle East is a unsubsidised market so no connection. (They’re setting themselves to price it high)
11) Asked if Carrier partnerships/exclusives apply to UAE. She said yes, one carrier (there are only 2). I panicked and asked if it will still be sold unlocked and openly at retail. She said yes. Then I asked what’s the difference then because carriers do not subsidize handsets in UAE. She said they will now (hmmm…….not sure if that’s a good thing)
Is this a new thing – carrier subsidies at UAE? I know some people don’t like it but there is definitely value in them if you do your sums, they might work out better in the long run.
12) Asked if vague, tangential marketing campaigns will give way to no-nonsense marketing highlighting best features (Pureview, Maps, Drive, Build quality etc). She said there ads are pretty good! (uh-oh)
No, no, no, no, no. Clearly not. Please let me know of 1 great Nokia ad and I will show you 50 more terrible ones. Go ahead Nokia peeps.
13) Asked about recent problem in supply chain and logistics (Nokia had issues with its previous Distributor – Redington because it wanted exclusivity. Problem was, Reddington WAS exclusive in mobile sector (non-exclusive in others) and was doing a fantastic job. Nokia burned that relationship and guess who took over- Yup, Samsung)
She did not seem to know about this, did mention they changed retailer partnership to Landmark Group (Previously was Emirates computers IIRC)
I’m still peeved over this. Samsung seem to step in where Nokia drop the ball.
14) Asked to see her personal device. It was an N9. She was very happy to show it off
I reckon she’ll get a few fans just for this alone
15) Asked if they will offer International warranties to match certain competitors. Nope. In fact it will go backwards from GCC-region wide to being country-specific.
Hmm, there was more that I might recall later.
In the few mins I got with the fully functional WP8 demo unit. I looked for major changes (Multitasking view, swipe left for multitasking, grid view for apps) and found none. I also spoke to couple of the T-break guys who got the full video before being asked to take it down. I *REALLY* doubt they have any banner/headline feature to announce at least in the way of UIX. Those guys pretty much explored and combed through the whole thing.
2 more tidbits:I asked them why no microSD on the 920 and said that the “seamless design” excuse doesn’t hold water since a microSD slot would logically be placed at the top or bottom where there are other ports and slots anyway. They agreed, sort of. No excuse offeredI asked why the 1280×768 resolution? Why not 1280×720 since it makes no difference to sharpness but would make the 920 a lot more ergonomic to hold. Again agreed and offered no excuse. Microsoft person later chimed in (the Developer relations person) that the 1280×768 was mostly for aspect:ratio compatibility with earlier 800×480 phones (both being 15:9) and that we wouldn’t be seeing too many 768p phones going forward. Indeed 920 seems to be the only one so far.