Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is 2012 the year of Nokia?

I am on the plane back to the Bay Area from CES. Las Vegas is always a cool place, even if you have a lingering jet-lag. Actually, in that case you might be able to experience the beautiful dawn in the desert while sober, which is not common in Sin City. I definitely recommend it.

CES was packed with people, but lacked exciting stuff, in my opinion. I traveled the show extensively and I can't say many booths impressed me because of new gadgets. I actually felt sad in the empty BlackBerry booth, looking at a new tablet OS whose top feature is email (really? It sounds like a joke ;-) Even TVs looked like TVs, just oversize and slim.

The only place where I saw something exciting is the Nokia booth (yep, they had a booth this year, pretty big and quite crowded). The Lumia 900 was in big display. It is the Windows Phone device coming out with AT&T.

In particular, what caught my eye was the blue model.

 There is a reason for it: it looks exactly the same as the Nokia N9 I received as a gift from a friend, who works at Nokia (I guess they did not know where to throw them :-) The N9 is the last model with MeeGo on it, a defunct OS (or maybe still alive, but barely breathing). As soon as I took the device out of the box, my wife asked to look at it. As soon as she had it in her hands, she asked me if she could keep it. I tried to say no, but I had no chance. She fell in love with it, at first sight, as rarely happens. She is now the official owner of a Nokia N9, with an OS she does not care about. It is blue, it is gorgeous, she loves it. It is all about the hardware. One last important bit: she trashed her iPhone to have it.

I know the sample of one is meaningless, but she is my wife so she must have good taste...

Jokes apart, the Lumia 900 is a big deal. The hardware looks different. The shape is cool, and it feels great in the hands. It is simply sexy. Even without turning it on.

Once it is on, Windows Phone shows up. It is a eye-catching OS. Nobody is taking it seriously, but with a sexy hardware and a massive marketing campaign (just wait, combine Microsoft and Nokia budgets, both at the last chance to make it in mobile...), I think it has a big chance.

Honestly, I believe there is a concrete possibility this device will finally spark adoption of Windows Phone.

That would be exciting. I do not like monopolies, and duopolies are not that much better (it is what Apple and Google are doing these days, with the variation that Amazon is creating a lot of trouble for Google). With Windows Phone in the middle, the competition will be even better.

I personally thought Nokia was done for good (same for RIM, but I have not changed my mind on that...). Instead, I am now convinced they have a winner in their hands, despite the crappy name (said the guy who came up with the name Funambol...). They have the big carrier behind them, which is not going to push the iPhone anymore (and has no reason to push Android much). That will help tremendously. If they execute the plan well, at the end of the year we could be looking at 2012 and realize it was the year of Nokia.

In any case, welcome back old friend.