Ovum At Mobile World Congress: Nokia X Series Points Way to a More Enlightened Microsoft

“It’s too early to call the launch of Nokia X a game changer. However, it definitely shakes up an industry that has become fixated on incremental advances and smart accessories as growth drivers of hardware sales, largely at the expense of further ecosystem development. Nokia’s strength in developing markets will be a major catalyst for sales of Nokia X, which brings a level of design and build quality to the low-price smartphone segment that is largely lacking today. Other OEMs will be forced to up their game in this key market segment.

“Both developers and consumers will see significant benefit from the emergence of Nokia X, which offers a viable alternative to the Google-centric view of low-cost smartphones that is prevalent today. This may well stimulate a response from Google, especially in developing markets where its focus on ecosystem monetization has been limited. Microsoft’s pragmatism in adopting AOSP gives it a chance of finally taking the global consumer technology fight to Google, Apple, and Samsung. The result, in the long term, may be a company barely recognizable as the one we know today.

“Ovum believes this announcement presents some attractive opportunities for communications service providers and developers. The new Nokia X smartphones offer a desirable alternative to cheap Android devices for consumers in both mature and developing markets and will help provide balance within carrier device portfolios at both the OEM and software platform level.Nonetheless, carriers should be aware of how highly integrated device-and-service offerings may limit their ability to offer value-added services to subscribers. Look to add value where it is not provided by Microsoft and Nokia rather than competing directly with them.

“We also suggest that Android application developers welcome Nokia X, both as an additional channel to market and as a new revenue opportunity. Minimal porting overhead means there is little reason to wait for a critical mass of devices before committing to supporting the platform. Traditional Microsoft developers will see no immediate benefit from Nokia X, although in the longer run we would expect it to become a part of the Microsoft developer toolchain, centered on Visual Studio. A wait-and-see strategy may be the most pragmatic approach for Microsoft developers for now.”

By Tony Cripps, Principal Analyst at Ovum.

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