Lumia 900What is the value proposition for the Windows Nokia Lumia 900 mobile phone launch? Dissecting the advertisements, it’s hard to tell. What exactly is the premium value we have all been waiting for?Microsoft and Nokia please tell us what your new OS and Lumia 900 hardware platform combination is going to do different and better for us, and motivate us to buy?

Can Microsoft and Nokia use last-century software project vernacular to position in the smartphone market? Is it credible? This past week, I read about the Windows Nokia Lumia 900 brash new ad campaign where the entire smartphone business is repositioned as being in “beta” and only now is real, with the launch of Microsoft Windows Mobile.  Come on, guys. No one is buying that when we measure the Lumia 900 delivery in years, while HTC, Samsung, and even Apple release revisions to their phones and OS in cycles measured in months.

The other radio advertisement, where a guy tells his friend that a girl is interested in him because she envies the Nokia Lumia 900 in his hand is equally weak. Lumia advertising is trite and misses a focus on value in terms of speed, performance, elegance simplicity and design is missing, when compared to Apple, Samsung, and even Motorola.

I Want a Nokia Lumia 900

Before I say anything more, let me clarify my position. I like Microsoft products, and am even a hold-out for their new smartphone. My Sprint service provider is tiring of my email asking “when?” will I see the Nokia Lumia 900. I want one of these cool Lumia 900 mobile phones, bad. My blog post today is one of disappointment.

Dilemma of Vernacular

OK, I’m old enough to know what “alpha” and “beta” mean in software. But I’m also active enough to know that any modern software effort is a “race” to deliver MVP to market or in other words, ship the Minimum Viable Product. The software teams I work with are in their 20s and 30s, most are self-taught and fueled by their entrepreneurial energy. Only a few of them have computer science degrees where something like “the waterfall project method” or “Boehm’s Model” of a cyclical method of software development were taught.

Today is a day of the Agile Method; a day of scrums and MVPs; a cycle of deliver, learn, develop, update, repeat. This new approach is a result of the shift to the cloud, modern mobile clients and the simplicity of tools and technologies making it dramatically easier to create products and ship them. Will anyone really understand “beta” in these ads when that language was going out of vogue more than 12 years ago? Perhaps some in their 40s and 50s will know what it means, but smartphone’s primary market is the hip, young, and gotta-have-it crowd. The MVP will ignite the lightning energy of the crowd, and you will know what needs to be revved in the next 2 month cycle. That’s the beauty of shipping fast, revving vast.

Exclusivity and Scarcity

Economists will tell you that Scarcity is a good thing, if a) you are the incumbent leader, and therefore in greatest demand, and b) you are not the the competitor starting from near-zero traction (in the smartphone market) attempting to drive a displacement strategy. In the latter case, you must market on your differentiation, not scarcity. You must flood the market with availability, an ultimate user experience, and blanket every channel. As I watch the exclusive arrangement to launch the Lumia 900 with AT&T – again, I have to wonder if Microsoft and Nokia did their homework?

Why not the other carriers simultaneously? There may be a partnership deal with AT&T, but it will be worthless if you don’t generate enough adoption, and early numbers are low. Find a way to get the Lumia 900 to all the other carriers ASAP.

This is a huge miss for the marketing team to think that replicating the Apple strategy, when you are the challenger has any chance of succeeding. The strategy to model is the Google Phone strategy, where you flood the market with products and attached services that work, making it an easy decision “try the Lumia out.” This is no time for a Lumia 900 marketing strategy based on, or appearing to be based on, scarcity.

Action Steps Get Going

  1. Advertising Language – get a new Lumia 900 message and base it on value and differentiation. The current message is making many of us see the disconnect you have with the customer. The current approach is not going to work with the age group that is out in front, and the one that you need to win in volume.
  2. Swift Delivery – accelerate whatever it is that is slowing your Lumia 900 delivery down. Find a way to Ship It.  Find the cancer, fix or remove it. HTC, Samsung, iOS, and Android are proving that it can be done – so whatever the bottleneck, swiftly remove it, use a sharp knife, it will draw less blood.
  3. Update Cycles – Once the MVP is out there, get the cycle of firmware and OS going regularly. My android downloads an update once every other week – I’m used to it, it is OK, it’s painless. SHIP, SHIP, SHIP, it’s the cloud, right?
  4. Respond Rapidly – Get recognition for rapid response and feature delivery in terms of firmware, software and application support – avoid being so vivid in the press about failures. The news about Nokia’s potential financial miss, and the bugs causing rebates through AT&T can’t happen in a strategy where you must compete with abundance.
  5. Launch Globally – Go to China, Latin America, and Africa NOW. As news about people in developing regions trade a kidney for an iPhone, the demand here cannot be ignored. Without a sense of urgency, that market will also be lost if you don’t get the Nokia / Microsoft combination delivered there in abundance, immediately.
  6. Carrier Adoption – OK, who thought it would win customers to be exclusive at launch with AT&T? Need I say more? customers are king, not the partner manager, not the alliance director, not marketing, or golf buddies. Ship it on all carriers, Verizon and Sprint, and ??? all want the Lumia 900, don’t let it become obsolete on the shelf.
  7. Developer Adoption – If you maximize customers, in the four steps above, you will get developers. Every thing done to slow down customers, is going to keep developers on the sidelines. This is not the 80s, where you have two-year product cycles to hold customers hostage, you have about a 60 to 90 day window…, and that window opened at Mobile World Congress 2 years ago…
  8. Innovate Fast – Just as the iPhone 5 is inevitable, and in the press. the Nokia Lumia 950 needs to get visibility, and now.

I used to say “I want my MTV” back in the day. Now I am saying: “I want my Microsoft Nokia Lumia 900.”  Please hurry, I need a new phone, and if I have to buy something else, I don’t know if I can wait 2 more years and still be an advocate. I know no one wants to be the last lone voice of diminishing thunder, as time roles on.  Then, innovate, fast. Already there are thinner phones from Samsung and Motorola, the Nokia 900 is already too thick and heavy relative to competitors. Lightening is striking everywhere and igniting urgency and speed, except where you would expect it most.

Last point to consider as I continue to wish i could get a Lumia 900 on Sprint…, is get new marketing. The current approach is going to do irreversible damage to the brand, and the ultimate level of success in the market. I’m ready to buy as soon as Microsoft and Nokia deliver.

What do you think? Please leave a comment. This is an open opportunity to crowd source innovation for Microsoft and Nokia.

Image credit: Nokia / Microsoft

One Response to Windows Nokia Marketing Strategy: Base it on Abundance, Not Scarcity

  1. A lot has happened in the past few weeks, but recently, the WSJ wrote that Nokia is halving the price of the lumia 900. This is a fine move, but missed the key point that they are still strapped, in the US, to a single, and arguably, one of the lesser, carriers. Customers want the phone, but not bad enough to switch carriers. That kind of exclusive demand driven by scarcity only happens once, and that was with the iPhone, 4+ years ago. The strategy necessary now, is to make this phone available through all the US carriers. That will have an impact. If MSFT/Nokia wait too long, the phone will not sell with any strategy with new competitors launching monthly.

    Delay only demonstrates a tentative nature, and failure to lead.

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