It would appear that mobile operators in Europe aren't impressed with what Nokia (and Windows Phone as a whole) has to offer to battle Google and Apple in the market. According to Reuters, four operators have stated that Nokia handsets have not been 'good enough' to compete with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.
One operator executive (who wished to remain anonymous) had the following to say:
"No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone. Nokia have given themselves a double challenge: to restore their credibility in terms of making hardware smartphones and succeed with the Microsoft Windows operating system, which lags in the market."
Now, we'll be the first to agree with the fact that not many customers will walk into a store and ask for a Windows Phone as the platform hasn't had the promotion or momentum that it so desperately requires. Microsoft has started their Smoked by Windows Phone campaign in a number of countries to build this momentum to a respectable pace, and Nokia has been hard at work with "The Amazing Everyday" and hosting live events. Cue "Rolling Thunder"? The trouble is there's just too much to do.
Windows Phone as a whole lacks a small number of selling points. Apps being the main complaint from potential buyers. There aren't enough big-brand apps on the marketplace and well established developers still remain skeptical and clear of the platform. This is set to change hopefully with Microsoft's plans to bring said developers to the Windows Phone table and pump apps out that are already available on other platforms. The company, along with Nokia, is also investing heavily in development programs including the €18 million investment on a university program in Finland.
As well as apps and developers, consumers haven't exactly been jumping with joy at Windows Phone. Whether it be simply because it's Microsoft, they don't like the UI, or they've just never heard of its existence, marketing and promotion is required on all fronts. Microsoft and Nokia has kick-started campaigns and results have proved to be fairly positive. The Lumia 900 launch has seen headlines covering the sell out at both AT&T and Amazon. Let's not forget the love that China still holds for Nokia or how a number of Windows Phones have populated the top rated charts on Amazon.
With the amount of money that has been reported to be in the pipeline, we can only look forward to some positive promotion material being launched globally. But let's head on back to the carriers who state that the Lumia handsets just aren't enough. We must ask the question: have they done enough? Have carriers actively promoted the devices on-par with the iPhone or Android handsets? We've continuously had readers send in complaints about their local store that wouldn't sell them a Windows Phone willingly or if there was no demo units available.
A device chief at a European carrier stated the following:
"We can open our stores to them and train our staff to sell the phones, but that's it. Ultimately, Nokia and Windows are challengers and they either need to come to market with a really disruptive, innovative product or a huge marketing budget to create client demand. So far they have done neither."
Unfortunately, this is also true. It down to Microsoft and OEMs to push their handsets, and we can't keep pinning the problems on carriers. AT&T has the Lumia 900 featured as a "hero device", but that's just for the U.S. What about the countless other supported countries? One has to ask: "Where is Microsoft?". Telecom consultant, John Strand, who works with many of the top European carriers, has an interesting view on the situation.
"The operators say to Nokia: 'We will try to bail you out if you and Microsoft come with the marketing money'. But even if the operators start to give away the Nokias for free, it will not make Nokia a success."
At the end of the day, carriers don't have to push Windows Phones out the door and perhaps we (as enthusiasts) have come at this from the wrong angle. The operators want the third contender and they desire to provide better choice to customers. But for this to be effective and worthwhile for the companies to make a comfortable profit, they require the marketing power that Microsoft could (and should) provide.
Do you believe carriers should push the handsets more, or should it be Microsoft pumping marketing funds into the well of wonders?