Should Nokia's Lumia deserve more credit?
Ok guys, first post. I'm genuinely intrigued to know what you think of my opinion that despite being a commercial disaster for Nokia, the Lumia range actually inspired more than just a bit of publicity for Windows Phone.
It was posted today on my own website but I think you guys are expertly placed to provide more of a critique.
Nokia's Lumia range - an unsung hero of revolution?
The software has always been slick, beautiful. The intricacy of its simplicity compared with iOS and Android was its strongest suit. So for me, one of the biggest caveats to buying Microsoft's Windows Phone platform was never really the software. Indeed, for myself and many others, the biggest concern when purchasing a Windows Phone 7 device was the lack of ambitiousness shown by the supporting manufacturers when it came to the hardware.
Despite the minimum hardware requirements set out by Microsoft in the initial stages of the launch some two years ago, manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung and LG never appeared committed enough to push the boundaries of either design or specification with their releases.
Unlike the superlative screen of the iPhone 4 or the processor-one-upmanship bragging spouted by various Android camps, there didn't really seem to be an attraction to Windows Phone. There wasn't a hero device; critically for the platform, there was no consumer buzz, no excitement and dare I say it, no significant interest surrounding product releases.
Microsoft's acquisition of the full support of Nokia represented a colossal line in the sand for the platform and its manufacturers. It signalled the long-term commitment that Microsoft had to its OS -- some OEMs had their doubts about the longevity of the Windows Phone platform -- and it also marked a fundamental change in the design philosophy surrounding mobile devices.
The Lumia 800/900 devices were revolutionary in their design. Lumia's principles were funky, attractive and made using a modern production technique from clever materials that really stood out from the rest of the market. No longer could it be claimed by any faction's fanboys that their black slab of glass with curved edges and high-gloss plastic construct was an iteration of Apple's iconic design.
Lumia's use of bold, bright, modern colour was an explosively stark contrast to the black and white standards set beforehand, whilst the premium feeling of the one-piece polycarbonate body balanced outlandish materials with the reliability of Nokia's reputation for solid device construction. No, from a design perspective, the Lumia range was fundamentally different on every level and it finally gave Windows Phone a reason to stand out from every other device that lined the wall-displays of phone retailers around the world.
Whilst the Lumia 800 and Lumia 900 have subsequently gone on to receive a unilateral groan of mediocrity from technology commentators regarding their performance, they've struck a couple of milestone achievements;
They're certainly reignited public interest in the platform which was undoubtedly the immediate requirement from Microsoft.
It's spurned an entirely new mindset to the design phase of mobile phone development.
The latter achievement is, for the industry at least, a watershed moment. Product designers have been slapped awake from a gentle slumber and dragged feet-first from their Lazy-Boy recliners in a darkened corner of the R&D Department's basement, sprawling wildly for their inspirational picture of a first-generation iPhone as they go.
A new focus has emerged, a focus led by revolution in consumer opinion on the importance of their device being 'bang on trend' by being overtly different from their neighbours. For consumers, it's no longer about having the same thing because it's cool. It's all about deliberately standing out for being different.
This is obvious in the 2012 device range for many manufacturers but will, I feel, become Microsoft's leading point of difference in the race for platform supremacy as it tries to position itself as the modern alternative platform to the cool-but-dated iOS.
The sensational design of the HTC 8X range alongside the stunningly crafted build of the Samsung ATIV S shows just how important OEMs view the shift of momentum to a "design first" philosophy for Windows 8 devices. Further, with the revelation of the Surface tablet, a Microsoft-built Windows Phone 8 device is all but lurking ominously around the corner.
Nokia's Lumia 800 and 900 range were clearly not the commercial success that Nokia and Microsoft were desperately looking for. But commercial success aside, from a consumer perspective the devices laid out a path of design that forked away from the safety of an exhausted standard. It's a path virtually every manufacturer worth their salt has now started to travel down. For that, consumers should be truly thankful and the designers should be hugely proud.