Nokia Windows Phone is 'absolutely stunning’
"Absolutely stunning." That’s how everyone that's been shown Nokia's new Windows Phone 7 smartphone describes the device. This is according to Nokia’s Conor Pierce, general manager for UK and Ireland, in a one to one interview with Pocket-lint.
"To the partners we have shown the device to, their words, not necessarily mine - although I agree - upon showing it to them. It's spontaneous and unprompted. They say ‘the first Nokia Windows Phone is absolutely stunning’ and that’s die hard gurus in this business, who have thick skin," boasts Pierce.
"For them to say that spontaneously without any sales pitch shows what we are bringing is pretty spectacular. And that’s only the beginning.”
The phone Pierce is talking about is, of course, the soon to be announced, and hopefully soon to be released, Nokia Windows Phone. Dubbed Sea Ray and already enjoying its fair share of leaks, it is the company’s first foray into the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 operating system and the phone that it hopes will help it turn around the fortunes of the once proud Finnish mobile phone maker.
"I’ve actually got one in my pocket, but I can't show you," he teases, leaving Pocket-lint unable to confirm the opinion of so many gurus.
Pierce, who also adds that he has "seen what’s coming," is very confident that the launch of Nokia Windows Phone 7 devices in the coming months is going to be the success that the company so drastically needs.
"My ambition is to bring Nokia back to where it was in terms of smartphones," he outlines in our exclusive chat.
"I'm very aware of where we are now in the UK. Globally we know where we are and the decisions we made in February [partnership with Microsoft] are a testament to a clear direction of where we are going.”
The UK general manager, who we can tell is determined to make sure the next 6 months for Nokia are positive, believes one of the key reasons the new phone - and possibly phones - will succeed is because of people’s heritage with the company.
"Why do I have this confidence? There is an unrivalled emotional connection with consumers. For the most part we [Nokia] are the first phone they had. So that's deeply rooted.
"We ran an independent focus group recently and the question was asked which manufacturer would you like to see produce the next Windows Phone, and the answer was Nokia. They want Nokia back and they know we can deliver."
So, with the confidence of a Nokia-hungry market out there, there's a single-minded focus now at Nokia; something which Pierce feels is of paramount importance.
"Nokia has made a decision to play hard on Windows Phone. That is our primary operating system. The scale and quality that we will bring to the WP7 ecosystem is unique. We aren’t dividing our time with other platforms. We will deliver a very superior smartphone, a very different experience."
The words are certainly of welcome relief to any Nokia users sick of the Symbian experience but, while confidence might be high, execution is a different matter altogether; something of which Pierce is fully aware.
"It’s about retail execution; it’s about advocacy across the partners. We have a lot of work to do. It’s not going to be easy. The UK is probably one of the most strategic markets we are going to deliver to and the most competitive. We all know what’s going to happen in Q4. So we need to shout hard. But not just shout hard, differently."
Part of that shouting hard is going to be getting the handset into people’s hands it seems. While that might be easier for those who have been reluctant to give up Nokia, converting those from the likes of HTC and Samsung might be a trickier audience. Nonetheless, Pierce and his team are convinced that they can still turn those heads.
"The power of the first impression - so when they actually see the device and are willing to show people and be proud of what they have - plays a big part in the decision. And that’s what we believe we have in our first device and future devices too.
"We need to make strong investments in retail. We are going to make an unprecedented seeding campaign to get it into the right hands. A lot of training is required. We measure advocacy every week. There is only one option for this phone, and that is success. So we are covering all the angles."
With even Microsoft admitting that the operating system hasn’t done as well as they had hoped to date, and analysts suggesting that Windows Phone 7 has just a 2 per cent market, share Nokia knows it has a tough job ahead.
"We are very aware of the current state of Windows Phone in the market. We are trying to bring a whole new slant to that. We are confident that, by putting a strong focus into this, we will overcome that hurdle. It’s not about one device, it’s about creating the applications and the ecosystem that is important.
"That goes back to building confidence with developers so that they also understand the scale of what we can do, not just in the UK but globally, and with the power of Microsoft and their Marketplace and their developer ecosystem. All that is ready and ripe and waiting. We just need to plug in the right devices and get them confident about it."
So how is all that possible from a company that has lost its way in recent years? It’s all because of a cultural change flooding through the company, explains Pierce.
"You aren’t aware of this, but I think you will see some of this in the way we are positioning our Windows Phone; the way we are thinking, it is refreshing. The way we listen to customers, this empathy, this confidence, and standing proud of what we deliver. I think that gives you an essence of the cultural change, and it’s quite dramatic, driven by Steven [Elop] and the leadership team."
Strong words from the Nokia UK boss, and thankfully he doesn’t have long to prove them. Nokia is expected to announce its first Windows Phone 7 device at Nokia World in London on the 26 October. Pocket-lint, of course, will be covering the event live so that we can tell you whether the Nokia Windows Phone really is "absolutely stunning" after all.
Stunning or not? How do you rate Nokia's chances? Let us know in the comments below.