As the global director for terminals marketing at the Vodafone Group, Peter Becker-Pennrich holds decision making powers over a procurement strategy that deals in serious volumes. Vodafone buys between 60 and 70 million handsets each year, spending $8bn across it’s footprint, including affiliates and partner markets. In this exclusive interview Becker-Pennrich offers frank assessments of the different strategies adopted by the vendor community, their chances for success and the nature of the relationship – ever evolving – between operators, vendors and platform developers.
Nokia has announced today two new smartphones powered by Microsoft Windows Phone 7 (WP7), the Lumia 610 and an LTE-less variant of Lumia 900 targeting Non-US market. With the introduction of these new smartphones, Nokia aims to broaden its WP7 portfolio beyond the main-stream smartphone market.
Gartner has published its mobile device numbers for the final quarter of 2011, reporting that 1.8 billion units were sold to end users across the year, up 11.1 per cent on 2010. Smartphones accounted for 31 per cent of all device sales with 472 million units sold, up 58 per cent year on year.
Nokia’s high end smartphones are “too expensive” according to the European general manager for devices at international carrier Telefónica. Simon Lee-Smith told Telecoms.com that Nokia’s premium devices are “not yet at the right price point,” adding: “If Nokia wants to sell in volume, they need to bring out devices which are cost-competitive.”
Taiwanese handset vendor HTC has previewed two Windows Phone 7 smartphones to consumers across Europe, ahead of the products’ commercial release in October. The Titan and Radar handsets are the first from HTC to run the latest version of WP7, dubbed Mango.
Nokia’s gradual withdrawal from the Japanese market looks set to continue, with rumours that the vendor is set to withdraw its Vertu range of “luxury” handsets and services due, apparently, to the brand’s inability to compete with smartphones.
Nokia Siemens Networks’ search for a willing buyer for a stake in the ailing JV appears to have staggered to a halt, with reports emerging that Nokia and Siemens have agreed to rather invest more of their own cash in an effort to revive the partnership’s fortunes. Reports in the Wall Street Journal suggest that plans to sell a controlling stake in the venture to a consortium including private equity investors were about to fall through, with Reuters quoting telecoms analyst Earl Lum as saying that “Any potential investor would need to see some light at the end of the tunnel with regard to profitability for NSN.”
Microsoft has joined HP, Motorola Mobility and Nokia in a growing line of tech companies opposed to Google’s proposed $900m purchase of Nortel’s patent assets. According to Redmond, a 2006 deal means that Microsoft has a “worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free licence to all of Nortel’s patents” and that this agreement is binding regardless of who buys the intellectual property.
Nokia has announced the settlement of a long-running patent spat with Apple. Under the terms of the agreement, Apple will pay an undisclosed lump sum as well as ongoing royalty payments for its use of patents Nokia claims belong to it. Both parties have agreed to withdraw their respective complaints to the US International Trade Commission (ITC).
Troubled Finnish handset vendor Nokia has said that it will not hit its sales or margin targets for the second quarter of 2011 due to a range of factors impacting negatively on its business. The firm said its difficulties are such that it was “no longer appropriate to provide annual targets for 2011.”
The latest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone, ripened this week. Mango, as it is known, adds more than 500 new features, including threads which switch between text, Facebook and Windows Live Messenger within the same conversation; the ability to group contacts into personalized Live Tiles; as well as deeper social network integration.
In a week during which the UK distinguished itself as the “Whiplash Capital of Europe” thanks to its rep for filing dodgy insurance claims, The Informer is pleased to note that, in the technology world at least, injury-preventing U-turns have been the order of the day.
We’ve had Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law, now the technology world is doing its bit for re-jigging Newton’s third law of motion: for every legal action, there is an equal and opposite lawsuit.
To a man with an iHammer, everything looks like an iNail, as the Informer’s great friend Mark Twain once said. And just to prove the old man right, the powers-that-be at Cupertino are suing Samsung, HTC, Mother Theresa, Adam and Eve and growers of mostly green, rather tasty pieces of fruit for infringing on its intellectual property. Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter, who wouldn’t have been able to attend legal proceedings in person as she couldn’t get the time off from kindergarten, settled out of court.
Nokia’s Ovi app store has hit the five million downloads a day mark, despite speculation regarding its future since the Finnish manufacturer entered a deal with Microsoft earlier this year. The app store offers more than 40,000 products but many believe it’s unlikely to survive in the context of Nokia’s agreement to ship Windows 7 phones from 2012 onwards. Microsoft has its own app store, Windows Marketplace, and it seems unlikely that the pair can co-exist in an ultra-competitive market.
Rumours that Google is planning to launch an iTunes rival optimised for Android will no doubt be further fuelled by its acquisition of Canadian start-up PushLife. Founded by former Research in Motion employee, Ray Reddy, in 2008, PushLife offers software that allows users to synch non-Apple devices with the iTunes platform.
Despite its February announcement of a partnership deal with Microsoft, Nokia has reiterated its commitment to the Symbian platform. Many interpreted Nokia’s decision to adopt the Windows 7 mobile platform as the end of the road for Symbian; the once dominant platform has been struggling to keep up with Android in the market-share stakes and recently slipped behind it for the first time.
An internally distributed study undertaken by China’s Ministry of Commerce reportedly suggests imminent action against the EU for its subsidisation of major telecoms infrastructure companies.
When Stephen Elop said that the smartphone market is “now a three-horse race” he cast Nokia and Microsoft in unfamiliar roles. It was a loaded observation because, implicit in his statement (and explicit in that now famous memo), was the admission that Apple and Google, and the ecosystems they have built around their device platforms, have become the smartphone establishment. Nokia and Microsoft, so used to their status as steadfast incumbents, now find themselves positioned effectively as newcomers, seeking to disrupt the status quo.
Nokia has announced a partnership with Microsoft that will see the software firm’s Windows Phone platform adopted as the handset vendor’s primary smartphone platform. The news comes in a week when speculation over Nokia’s strategy was driven to fever pitch after a leaked memo from CEO and former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop revealed the depth of the crisis facing the Finnish firm.