Hero phones

Our poll results show Nokia still riding high

Windows Phone Central conducted a poll over the weekend about which “hero” Windows Phone 8 device readers were yearning to make their own. And although carrier offerings will ultimately affect user choice, word on the street is that a lot of these flagship phones will be widely available on launch in early November.

With this poll, we had the largest turnout of respondents, resulting in some solid data. The question of which is the most desired Windows Phone 8 device is quite stark and will make for some interesting discussion on Windows Phone 8, OEMs and where the market is headed.

 

Poll Results

 

Results

The poll question had three choices that included the Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung ATIV S and the recently announced HTC 8X. All are considered "top of the line" by their respective companies.

With just shy of 10,000 respondents (repeat voting blocked by IP and browser cookies), the results are astonishingly clear with 8,224 respondents (82.34%) declaring the Lumia 920 as their desired next phone.

HTC with their well-received 8X was in a distant second with 12.77% of the vote (1,275 respondents) and Samsung was dragging way behind in third with just 4.9% or a tiny 489 votes.

The results are interesting since we can compare it with an earlier pre-HTC announcement poll. That data was collected when the 8X was all-but-confirmed but still not being official unveiled. Many people thought that perhaps HTC could still surprise us with a rumored ‘Zenith’ phone although that never happened.

Previous poll

Previous WPCentral Poll results showed HTC far behind

Still, HTC did make a good impression with people, as nearly 40% of voters were highly impressed with HTC’s Windows Phone 8 selection post-event, another 33% who thought the PR event “served its purpose” and only 10% who were disappointed.

During that previous poll, Nokia still had just shy of 82% for the Lumia 920 and HTC was way behind in 4th with 3.41% of the vote (results were watered down with the inclusion of the Lumia 820). Samsung though was riding higher with 7.44% of the vote, showing a sharp decline in user preference between the two weeks when HTC announced their 8X.

 

Analysis

From this data we can come to some fairly strong conclusions, especially since nearly 10,000 votes and the wide margins making the results quite significant.

First of all, there is little doubt that Nokia did and still does have all the Windows Phone 8 momentum behind them and their flagship Lumia 920. The Windows Phone audience appears to be most impressed with their dedication to the platform, hardware ingenuity and their device designs as significant differentiators to stand behind as consumers.

Poll Results

Latest WPCentral Poll Conducted week of 9/20-9/23/12

Though HTC revealed the 8S and 8X to overwhelming praise from tech pundits and consumer audience, especially for their eye-catching design, it did not really cause a significant drop from Nokia’s Lumia 920, who’s high-end features (larger 4.5” screen, PureMotion HD+ screen, PureView camera and wireless charging) has clearly set the bar.

The silver lining here for HTC though is they seemed to have lifted some of the Samsung ATIV S potential buyers and convinced them to go with HTC instead. Indeed with HTC’s innovative new design and bold colors, it does make the gunmetal grey ATIV S look quite boring, even if the ATIV S has some stellar hardware specifications to back up its super thin design.

ATIV S

Samsung's ATIV S is solid spec wise, but boring on the outside?

 

Samsung’s in trouble

Interestingly, some in the tech press think it is Samsung who will “save” Windows Phone 8 due to their success with the Galaxy S3 and their global reach e.g. ZDnet:

“The reality here is that HTC and Nokia are bickering over which company is the real Windows 8 phone, but the reality is Samsung is likely to be a more valuable partner to Microsoft's mobile ambitions.

Repeat after me: Scale, marketing and branding. HTC just doesn't have it. Nokia used to have all three. Today those qualities are debatable for Nokia. The smartphone market in the U.S. is saturated and will become saturated in Europe and Asia in the not too distant future. Is there really room for HTC, Nokia and Samsung in the Windows Phone 8 device race (assuming Microsoft's branding gives the mobile OS a push)? Probably not. As a result, you'd have to place your Windows Phone bets on Samsung. Nokia lacks the U.S. clout and is losing ground around the world."

We fervently disagree.

First of all, Samsung has one phone versus the two-each by HTC and Nokia, which clearly will have deeper market penetration due to simple variance of price ranges.  Second, Samsung is not new to Windows Phone. With the Focus, Focus 2, Focus S and Focus W, all on AT&T and well received, Samsung has had very little impact on the Windows Phone ecosystem.  HTC had much more Windows Phone market share than Samsung ever did and Nokia quickly supplanted that within just one quarter of Lumia sales.

Sales

Samsung will not change the tide with the ATIV S

With Samsung’s ATIV S, which has admittedly impressive specs, it is clear that consumers are bored with their design when compared to Nokia or HTC. (The fact that Samsung themselves are doing little build hype behind their flagship phone certainly does not help with that perception).

For those reasons we think the ATIV S will have low to mild sales when compared to the HTC 8X or Lumia 920, even despite potential positive hardware reviews. But make no mistakes, they won't be leading the Windows Phone 8 charge nor "save" Microsoft's mobile ambitions.

If Samsung cannot even convince the current Windows Phone audience of the value of their next flagship phone, what chance does it have with the non-Windows Phone masses?

 

HTC group

HTC has made a nice impression with the 8X

 

Wrapping it up

Nokia appears to have hit all the right notes with current Windows Phone users with the Lumia 920. What remains to be seen from them (and HTC too) is execution of launch: wide availability with carriers and regions, fair prices. The quicker the better.

HTC is also in a better position as people are now taking their designs seriously. The Taiwanese manufacture has had its ups and downs over the last few years but with the new 8X and 8S, they could potentially change course.

Samsung, on the other hand, appears to be getting comfortable with their Galaxy design and not thinking outside of the box. Their evident non-enthusiasm to the platform is also clearly having an effect on consumer perception.