UK CIOs remain largely unconvinced by Nokia smartphones – despite the company unveiling its first Windows Phone handsets last week in a bid to reboot its smartphone fortunes.
Asked, ‘Will Nokia’s alliance with Microsoft make Nokia smartphones an attractive option again for business customers?’, the silicon.com CIO Jury voted no by a margin of eight to four – with many saying business users are now amply served by Android, BlackBerry and iOS.
Nokia’s smartphone fortunes have been in the doldrums since Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms elbowed their way in to the market, with Android ousting Nokia from the smartphone top slot earlier this year and Apple’s iOS devices steadily creeping into businesses, thanks to the BYO trend.
Nokia and Microsoft announced their strategic pact over Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile OS back in February. At the Nokia World conference this week, Nokia unboxed the first fruit of this alliance: the flagship Lumia 800, and the Lumia 710, a cheaper device initially targeting Asian markets.
However, despite the Nokia WP launch fanfare, CIO Jury member Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at clearing house LCH.Clearnet, said it may already be too late for the Mokia alliance to make a dent in the business universe.
“While the combination of Nokia and Microsoft has appeal, the industry has consolidated on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, so unless the Nokia Lumia is a game changer it isn’t going to take a large slice of business share,” Yellowley said.
“Ease of administration from a central Windows server would have been of benefit some time ago, however most companies can now manage iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android devices as part of their business as usual activities,” he added.
Yellowley’s views were echoed by Gideon Kay, group CIO at science and laboratory services company LGC. “Space is now crowded with Android, iPhone and BlackBerry having better propositions – and more BYO PC stuff in corporate will mean most organisations will stick with the market leaders,” he noted.
Gavin Megnauth, director of operations and group IT at recruitment company Morgan Hunt, shares the view that Mokia is probably…
…too late to the smartphone party to win business users over.
“Unless they can make a quantum leap forward in terms of innovation, ease of use or surpass the ‘delight’ factor that Apple have created with their consumers, it is difficult to see them ever compete in the high-margin world of the smartphone arena,” he said.
Another CIO Jury member raised concerns about the stability of Microsoft’s mobile platform. “Microsoft need to work on WP7 reliability first, irrespective of the Nokia smartphone launch,” noted Chris Martin, CTO at airline flights comparison service Cheapflights.
However, despite the 2:1 ratio of CIOs being unmoved by Nokia and Microsoft’s smartphone partnership, it’s not all bad news for the pair.
Giles Jerrit, head of technology at global alternative investment manager Saguenay Strathmore Capital, reckons Nokia Windows Phone devices may be able to worm their way into businesses – albeit facing an uphill struggle.
“The Nokia-Microsoft partnership is really going to need to pull out all the stops to beat the BlackBerry dominance for email – even with BlackBerry’s recent troubles – and the iPhone and iPad for sheer class and usability. With users increasingly wanting to use BYO hardware and access our systems that way, they’ll need to win over the users, the business and, as we saw from the HP misadventure, they also need to attract the developers too.
“But if anybody can do it, Microsoft can.”
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO at food and facilities management services company Sodexo Northern Europe, also believes the two companies still have a chance to cut themselves a slice of business smartphone pie – thanks to their strong and trusted brand identities.
“The financial and technical might of Nokia and Microsoft have a real chance to carve out a portion of the market – where smaller players are struggling,” he said. “Customers realise they are a ‘safe bet’ and in the business for the long haul.
“Familiarity and trust of both brands and their related products will help a lot.”
Plus the pair might get a foot in the door on account of interoperability with other Microsoft-based corporate software, reckons Mike Roberts, IT Director at The London Clinic. “Microsoft integrates better with the corporate apps,” he noted.
Today’s silicon.com CIO Jury:
- Alastair Behenna, group technology director, Telecity
- Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO, Sodexo Northern Europe
- Giles Jerrit, head of technology, Saguenay Strathmore Capital
- Gideon Kay, CIO, LGC
- Chris Martin, CTO, Cheapflights
- Martin McCormack, director of ICT, Beaumont Hospital
- Gavin Megnauth, director of operations and group IT, Morgan Hunt
- Hugo Patten, CIO, DHL Supply Chain
- Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
- Richard Storey, head of IT, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
- Derek Wilson, CIO, Origin Enterprises
- Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities, LCH.Clearnet
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