Nokia is hopefully standing before an inflection point with the impending launch of the Lumia 900. Having tied its horse to Microsoft and Windows Phone, the company has seen some early buzz for the 710 and 800 models, but the 900 is Nokia’s flagship device. At $99, with a sleek design and competitive specs, the Lumia 900 is Nokia’s best bet to regain mobile market share.
To build buzz before launch, Nokia has unleashed an aggressive marketing campaign involving Chris Parnell and security-camera style videos directly attacking the iPhone and Android handsets. Now, I am very interested in the Lumia 900, and I will never begrudge a company for marketing the hell out of their product, but the series of videos (embedded below) demonstrates that Nokia doesn’t know why it lost all that market share, or how customers choose products.
Nokia would have customers think that the makers of the smartphones they choose to buy are arrogant, callous, Lehman Brothers loving jags that don’t give a crap about their product. This is a radical extension of the recent (and much better executed) Samsung ads poking fun at Apple fanboys and girls evangelizing a supposedly inferior product. While the Samsung ads are a playful tease at those that would purchase a product for its popularity and then use it as an identity crutch (these people are fewer and far between than Samsung would have you believe, but they do exist), Nokia is arguing that all along customers have been screwed by a malevolent dictator. Apple doesn’t care about you; Apple is trying to trick you. iPhone users have been bullied into buying Apple products, and they’re waiting for a saviour to emerge and unshackle them.
To which I respond: poppycock. Nokia, the customers you’re trying to win over weren’t tricked and they weren’t bullied. They just happened to choose the best smartphone on the market. The smartphone that you have failed to make, despite years of experience in the space. The smartphone that forced you to jettison your failing ecosystem and partner with a direct competitor because you failed to deliver a stellar (or usable) OS. Maybe some of these customers bought an iPhone because everyone else was doing it, but there are very good reasons as to why everyone else was doing it.
The best marketing has a hint of truth underlying the aspiration for newer or better, or both. Nokia, I will never buy your phone because you convinced me that Apple is out to get me; I will buy your phone because you convinced me it’s the one I want. The Lumia 900 might be that phone, but so far I remain unconvinced.