If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You Will Always Get What You’ve Always Got

So the first Nokia smartphone has launched since I left…..

I’ve kept out of phone shops since I left my job, but not because I’m bitter and can’t stand the emotional turmoil of seeing mobile phones! It’s because I genuinely have very little interest, I’m now just a regular consumer and only see the high street and TV presence that everyone else in the country sees. I’m not internal, I don’t see the GFK stats and don’t see the wonderful PowerPoint presentations that Marketing and Sales teams use to convince themselves they’re doing a great job. So I thought I’d let you know what I see now, and how much it saddens me.

In my final few weeks I was aware of the marketing plans for the Lumia 1020, it was going to be a huge deal for Nokia. Everyone was going to range it and O2 were going big with a 64GB exclusive and an ambition to really increase the Windows Phone share of their smartphone portfolio to 15%. Lumia 1020 was going to make a difference.

I walked into an O2 store last weekend – only a few days after Lumia 1020 launched here in the UK – expecting something impressive.


An iPhone5 poster in the window (not even 5S!) and an average sized stand showing off Sony’s new Xperia Z1. In the middle of the store, and only because I was actively looking for it, I saw one solitary Lumia 1020…hang on, no it’s not even a real phone. A plastic dummy and a white poster on a white background telling me it’s got a great camera. This is not a very good in-store execution and shows me no real desire on O2’s behalf to sell lots of these phones. I was in a city centre store, however not in Birmingham, Manchester or London so maybe things are being set up differently in the bigger cities. I spoke to a member of staff and was promptly informed that it’s all about the camera with Lumia and if I wanted a real smartphone with all the latest apps and games then the Lumia is not for me. I do know that this store, and even this city, is not in Nokia’s call file to visit with the field training team so maybe their lack of knowledge can be forgiven.

I’ve only seen one single TV advert since the launch, so I decided to turn to the internet to see how the 1020 is being promoted and do my best to view it as a general consumer.

I picked Carphone Warehouse, they are the UK’s largest mobile retailer and all their pages for phones are pretty standard – a headline page with images, some tariff info and then seven paragraphs to really sell the phone with key messages. I’m ignoring the huge exposure for the latest iPhones as Nokia cannot be criticised for not having the budget of the Apple giant.

CPW Phones

The four highlighted smartphones on the homepage of CPW are Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z1, LG G2 and Nokia Lumia 1020. Looking promising, it’s part of the conversation, it’s a 4G phone and it’s not the most expensive. Let’s look at how it’s pitched once you click on it.

First thing you read is “has the most powerful camera of any smartphone, with all the settings and adjustments you’ll ever need”. Fantastic, everyone wants a good camera on their phone so as a consumer I’m definitely interested. Let’s skip the price, I’m aware that for the latest smartphone I’m going to have to pay £35-£45 a month for it. Now the real opportunity for a phone to sell itself…

Paragraph 1: “The only smartphone with a 41MP camera.” WOW, that line at the top wasn’t wrong, this must have a great camera. What else can you tell me about the phone?

Paragraph 2: The essential tech specs. Quite a few people yawn at all the mAh, ppi, 720p, GB, GHz etc but this paragraph immediately tells be that the battery, screen size, screen resolution and processor are not as good as the competition here. It does not tell me that Windows Phone 8 doesn’t need as much processing power to perform quickly and efficiently. OK, the camera has won me over but the tech specs are letting me down a bit. What else can this high end smartphone do?

Paragraph 3: “Images captured like never before. The Nokia Lumia 1020 will let you take photos and videos that no other smartphone can match with its 41MP camera.” Oh yeah it has a 41mpx camera. I almost forgot about that. Next…

Paragraph 4: Nokia Pro Camera. I can adjust the shutter speed, focus, exposure, white balance – my God this really is a camera that can make phone calls isn’t it!!

Paragraph 5: Huge array of pro settings. Are you starting to see a theme? Apparently I can adjust focus, shutter speed, white balance, zoom….. Repeating the last paragraph tells me this phone really isn’t anything but a camera.

Nokia Pro Cam

Paragraph 6: Ultra realistic video capture. Hello Mr Camera…..

Paragraph 7: £50 cash back when you trade in your digital camera. Do people have digital cameras now? I know from experience that Nokia have the research to show that the HUGE majority of pictures on social media are taken with smartphones. If you’re after keen photographers with this phone, you’re aiming at a very small proportion of the market who will do their research into the camera, so therefore may not need to be targeted with so much camera talk in the marketing they see.

Where’s all the other stuff? I have had one since June so I know for a fact that the Lumia 1020 is a world class smartphone. Yes it is a great camera but it’s so much more. I use Microsoft Office, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music more than the camera now. This phone has the best navigation offering on the planet and a fantastic free music service to rival Spotify and the more recent mobile-focussed efforts of Google and Apple. It must be soul destroying for over 100 people in the Nokia Music office in Bristol to work so hard creating such a great product only for nobody to be told about it.

The whole Lumia range also has sensational build quality – I left my Lumia 1020 on the roof of the car, drove off and it survived a tumble down the road perfectly well. I also fell off my bike, landed on my Lumia 920 and it broke two of my ribs!!

There is also no mention of the wireless charging capabilities, or the unique features of Windows Phone 8 or Microsoft Office – crazy with all the publicity of Windows 8 recently.

I know that Nokia want to focus on one specific message and win in that arena, but this really is not going to increase sales or market share. Look at how Samsung pitch their highlighted phone and see the difference….

In the same space, 7 paragraphs, they tell me it’s a huge, brilliant screen and the phone is slim. It’s got a massive fast processor and a really good camera with image stabilisation and 4K video recording – many consumers will have no idea what that is but it says it’s the next generation after 1080p. The Note 3 claims to be innovative with the latest Android software for apps and games. Not so bad paying £42 a month if its future proof. I also get a free £120 speaker and it works with a funky new smart watch too.

What about the Sony Xperia Z1? Now I personally don’t like Sony phones but let’s look at their page… This also has a fantastic camera (20MP), a brilliant screen (good use of Sony’s TV brand), its waterproof, durable, has a great processor AND I get free movies, music streaming and a free £120 speaker.

This would all be a lot easier to take if the Lumia 1020 was genuinely an inferior smartphone, but it really isn’t. The amazing work put into creating this genius piece of kit deserves better marketing.

When Apple was number one, people at Nokia scoffed and said Apple are just a marketing machine, “claiming” to be the best. Now they say the same of Samsung with the Galaxy range. The difference, in my opinion, is that Apple and Samsung make great devices and then tell consumers that they are the best devices. “This is our latest phone and this is why you want it….”

Nokia also make great devices but just don’t tell anyone about so much of the great stuff they create.
Muhammad Ali, when still known as Cassius Clay, said “I am the greatest” before getting anywhere near a title fight. He believed it, said it with conviction and people believed in him.

It’s my belief that the Nokia Lumia range will not achieve even 10% of the £30+ per month smartphone market in the UK in the next two years….and it isn’t the lack of Instagram or Snapchat that is preventing it.

Nokia in the UK needs to change its fortunes and you cannot do that without changing attitudes or personnel in Sales Operations & Marketing and in decision making at the very top.

2 thoughts on “If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You Will Always Get What You’ve Always Got

  1. You have it nailed, Dave.

    Nokia are building some great devices but yet again the message is not being driven home.

    I can see the sense in focussing on key features, but not if that’s at the expense of the appeal of a device as a whole. The feature set of Lumia and Windows Phone is something to celebrate across the range: music, navigation, Live Tiles and general ease-of-use especially.

    To be fair, Microsoft did spend a bit on promoting Windows Phone on TV here in the UK earlier this year, but that seems to’ve lost momentum. Hopefully they will ramp things up now we’re approaching the Holiday Season.

    But as you make clear, the Retailers need to be encouraged to take up the baton. Every time I go in to a phone shop I ask about Lumia and guage the response of the sales staff; almost without exception I encounter sneering disdain for WP and Nokia. To say the spotlight is on Android and iOS is a huge, gaping understatement.

    Lumia is too quickly dismissed as an odd-ball or also-ran and when I probe further I encourage ignorance is behind the prejudice against Lumia. Behind that I find that most stores have a poor relationship with their Nokia Representative (if indeed they have one at all) and most staff are at beat trained in-store by their equally-ignorant Superiors.

    Justin, in the Poole branch of Phones 4U is the exception: He is knowledgeable of all phones, but is a real Nokia evangelist. It was so refreshing to find someone else who actually knew the value of WP, but sadly so rare.

    If Lumia is to survive it is the foot-soldiers on the line that will ultimately win or lose the battle for Microsoft. Now is the time to rally the troops, equip them for the fight and ensure they are motivated and prepared.

    Sadly, I fear that the likes of Justin from,Phones 4u in Poole, Dorset will just end up as cannon fodder as Apple & Samsung win the high ground in terms of marketing.

    • Justin in Poole is probably an evangelist because the Nokia rep in Bournemouth is a legend. Awesome at building advocacy and could be a great Trainer if he chose to be. Nokia need more like Lloyd, but also need to use them properly – not send them off making promo videos instead of being in store during a huge device launch!!

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