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What’s next for Lumia and Asha?

Ian Delaney Published by Ian Delaney Wed, Sep 4

What’s next for Lumia and Asha?

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2170

Ian Delaney Published by Ian Delaney Wed, Sep 4

An interview with Nokia marketing chief, Tuula Rytilä

Yesterday’s big announcement about Microsoft’s plans to purchase Nokia’s devices and services business – very understandably – raised a lot of questions with readers. We gathered together some of your responses to the news and took them to Tuula Rytilä, who heads up Nokia marketing. These questions are direct from you, our readers.

Do we get new phones with Nokia branding, or not?

IMG_4981_467x300Microsoft will purchase the license to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones for ten years. It will also buy the ‘Lumia’ and ‘Asha’ brands.

On smartphones, we’ll be seeking to create a unified brand across Lumia and Windows. But we understand that the Asha and feature phone range will carry on the ‘Nokia’ branding.

It’s important to point out that new phones produced under Microsoft’s ownership will effectively be from the same stable as recent Nokia smartphones. Our design and manufacture teams will join Microsoft. Stefan Pannenbecker has been the head of Nokia’s hardware design for some time, and he continues as we move into the next wave of design.

Can we rely on Microsoft to continue the product quality we have come to rely on from Nokia?

Microsoft and Nokia have very similar values and vision when it comes to product quality. It’s what has made Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone such a great match. We value great hardware quality and a seamless user experience.

I recall a recent product workshop where we split into Nokia and Microsoft teams to describe our vision for the next generation of Windows Phone. When we came to compare our lists, they were almost identical.

Design at Nokia is our approach to product making and embraces engineering and manufacture. It’s the expertise in that approach that distinguishes Nokia and made it something that Microsoft wanted.

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Does this mean the end of support for my Nokia phone?

Not at all. All of our support functions are also going to be transferred to Microsoft, including our Care network, under the stewardship of Juha Putkiranta, the head of operations. Customers won’t actually experience any difference.

In any case, even if we didn’t have that approach, we’re bound by international and national legislature to provide all of the necessary support.

Will this be the end of the Asha series and other feature phones?

Microsoft is really excited by the opportunities presented by our Mobile Phones (Asha and feature phones) business.

Microsoft shares our vision for connecting the Next Billion. In ten years, we anticipate it will all be smartphones. Existing mobile phones will act as an on-ramp to smartphones.

Microsoft has little experience in this area, which is why they are acquiring that expertise. Asha under Microsoft is likely to create a better offer for customers. Steve Ballmer has already stated that some Microsoft services that have previously been restricted to higher-end smartphones may come to Asha. They are looking into things like SkyDrive, Office and Xbox.

Will Microsoft allow the Nokia staff to continue to innovate from Finland?

This is effectively what Microsoft is buying.

I think we’ve proven that our products have been better with Microsoft. Lumia smartphones have made us proud again. But the greatness of those products comes from two sides.

Nokia has key Research and Development sites in Finland: Salo, Tampere and Oulu. The Lumia 1020 was developed largely in Tampere, while the Lumia 920 was mainly designed in Salo.

That expertise is the nucleus of what this planned acquisition is about.

What about the other side? Will Nokia innovation find its way into other Microsoft products?

As we announced yesterday, Stephen Elop will lead the Microsoft devices business, which extends a long way beyond phones. There are some great opportunities there.

Microsoft is so similar to us in terms of its approach to products. So we don’t feel that we’re going to be limited at all. In fact, the resources and investment that Microsoft brings means that we expect that we will have greater freedom for experimentation and innovation. Though that doesn’t mean that we will lose any urgency or pace when it comes to getting products to market.

One last thing for Nokia Conversations readers. We really welcome your feedback and it’s great to be able to answer your questions. Keep them coming – we’re listening!

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