Motorola emphasized the speed of its new Droids, which will run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network, and Nokia focused on the superior picture and video capabilities of its new Lumias running Windows Phone 8 in their bids to join Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy lines in the “must-have-that” aspirations of U.S. consumers.
The “two laggards in the mobility race,” as the New York Times’ Brian X. Chen puts it, took the wraps off their new offerings in separate press conferences in New York yesterday. As good as the reviews may be, that’s only part of the puzzle.
“Launching new phones involves many moving parts,” write the Wall Street Journal’s Sven Grundberg and Steven D. Jones. “There's the phone itself, but there also are relationships with carriers and marketing arrangements to manage. Getting all the pieces together at once is no small feat.” And apparently neither quite did.
Most observers feel Nokia has the most to lose if its new devices don’t reverse the slide it has been on for some time after 14 years as the top-selling mobile manufacturer in the world.
CEO Stephen Elop started the presentation yesterday “by talking about how Nokia strove to replace the ‘grid of applications,’ and the dull text layout, of most smartphones, when the partnership with Microsoft first began,” Barron’s Tiernan Ray live blogs on “Tech Trader Daily.”
But when Cory Johnson interviewed Elop on Bloomberg Television's "Lunch Money," the No. 1 feature in his Top 3 list of is that the phones represent the best way to take photos and video. (No. 2 is that they are the “best way to navigate through your world”; No. 3, they are “based on Windows Phone 8.”)
Elop tells Johnson that Nokia focused on “really clear consumer benefits, such as the ability to take pictures in low light and have them look good.” This concentration on “the things that really matter” in consumers’ day-to-day lives is what distinguishes Nokia from the mistakes of recent years, he maintains.
When Johnson expresses some surprise on the emphasis of the camera phone, Elop doesn’t discount the voice and text capabilities of cell phones but acknowledges that more pictures will be taken on mobile devices this year than on digital cameras, as IDC has predicted -- and the budding auteur in all of us is tired of shooting something that turns out to have been a “waste of time” because of poor lighting.
Nokia made a PR faux pas, however, by “simulating” one of its main talking points in a promotional video touting the optical image stabilization (OIS) capabilities of its PureView camera.
“The good folks over at The Verge noticed a reflection that indicated the video had been shot with a regular video camera and not the Lumia 920 as implied and cried foul,” CNET’s Steven Musil reports. “"Hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only," a Nokia spokeswoman subsequently blogged.
Nokia’s North American shares were down 16% following the media event. The WSJ’s Grundberg and Jones blame the plunge on the company’s leaving out of details in its announcement -- such as telling us “when the phones would become available, where to buy them or what they will cost.” Also, “it didn’t help that that product details leaked almost a week ago," Adnaan Ahmad, an analyst at Berenberg Bank in London, tells Bloomberg News’ Scott Moritz, Dina Bass and Adam Ewing.
Motorola, meanwhile, anointed its new Razr HD, which connects to Verizon’s 4G LTE network, as the new flagship of the Razr line, reports Mashable’s Peter Pachal. It has a 4.7-inch screen with a screen resolution of 1,280 x 720 display, a big upgrade from the current 960 x 540 display. The company claims it has 85% better color saturation than the iPhone 4S, and a 2,500-milliamp-hour battery that gives better battery life than the Samsung Galaxy S III (about 16 hours of talk time).
Motorola also showed off the Droid Razr M, which CNET calls “the most unique” of the three new offerings, and the Droid Razr Maxx HD, which Engadget calls the Razr HD’s “big brother.” The M will be $100 and available Sept. 13; the company could only say that the Razr HD phones would be available "before the holidays."
“Woodside said that the union of the two companies would spur mobile innovation,” Chen continues. “But Mr. Woodside, sharp and energetic, was careful not to overstate his goal for Motorola. He does not expect it to become a giant overnight.” And it doesn’t have to be the biggest player in the market to be “one that’s truly leading in leaps and bounds in generations and generations of devices,” he said.
Hey, isn’t that Apple’s niche?