5 Sept 2012

Nokia's Lumia 920 Launch: The PureView Fiasco

Nokia Lumia 920 Pureview

Nokia just unveiled the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820, their long-rumored devices based on Windows Phone 8. The Lumia 920 is the high-end model and comes with Nokia's heralded PureView imaging technology. However, Nokia may have shot itself in the foot again, by limiting the camera to 8 megapixels, as compared to the 41 megapixel camera on the original Symbian-based Nokia 808 PureView.

Now, before the camera enthusiasts descend on me, I am by no means suggesting that a higher megapixel count is important to image quality. Nokia imaging head, Damian Dinning, had a recent twitter battle with fans about the topic:

Nokia Pureview Damian Dinning

He's obviously right. The quality of the camera's sensor, optics and image processing techniques are far more important to image quality than the megapixel count. However, the very fact that he had to issue this clarification to fans highlights Nokia's marketing failure with the "PureView" brand. This isn't about Nokia's imaging technology; this is about the failure of Nokia's marketing strategy.

The launch of the Nokia 808 PureView, earlier this year, shocked gadget enthusiasts worldwide, thanks to the inclusion of a 41 megapixel camera. The camera's megapixel count itself became a far bigger selling point to gadget enthusiasts (not camera enthusiasts) than the actual PureView technology onboard. The megapixel count became a potential status symbol, while the "PureView" branding wasn't any more appealing than Nokia's previous "Carl Zeiss optics" branding. These facts  raise some serious questions about Nokia's decision making process:

1) If Nokia was planning on making PureView a key selling point for its upcoming WP8 based devices, why did they launch the first device on the Symbian platform? It's possible they were planning on generating interest in PureView technology before the WP8 launch. But that makes very little sense when you take the next question into account.

2) If Nokia wasn't planning on retaining the high megapixel count of the Nokia 808 PureView, why create heightened expectations with a device that is not critical to your long-term strategy and then disappoint potential Lumia 920 buyers?

I think Stephen Elop may have got the expectations management concept of "under-promise and over-deliver" backwards. This decision will definitely disappoint many potential Lumia 920 buyers and lead to lower sales at a critical juncture in Nokia's transition to Windows Phone.