Microsoft CES 2012 Video Wall

Two Windows 7 server systems running the latest version of WATCHOUT. The main system and backup run 63 – 47″ lcd screens in a 7 channel configuration resulted in a 70 x 5’8″ animated looping wall.

Microsoft Keynote

The 90 minute keynote utilized looping animated backgrounds, scenic background images, and a metro animation that we built to seamlessly tie the visuals together.

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Nokia Lumia Sales Seen Topping 1 Million in Respite for Stock, Bloomberg Reports

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)’s first phones running Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)software may have sold enough units last year to help rebuild investor confidence in the Finnish company, which lost $19 billion in market value in 2011.

The Lumia handsets, which went on sale in Europe in November, probably sold 1.3 million units globally to operators and retailers by the end of last year, according to the average estimate of 22 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. The projections range from 800,000 to 2 million and only one analyst predicted sales of fewer than 1 million handsets.

“The numbers look promising,” said Espen Furnes, an Oslo- basedfund manager at Storebrand Asset Management, which sold Nokia shares last year and counts Apple Inc. (AAPL) in more than $60 billion it oversees. “If Nokia is able to have a strong launch and surpass at least 1 million and keep that type of momentum, this would help put them in a credible position that is crucial to winning back investors.”

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop has staked the future of Nokia’s smartphone business on the Lumia series, after deciding almost a year ago that the Espoo, Finland-based company would retire its homegrown Symbian and MeeGo handsets. The early shipment figures are important because investors had doubted the alliance with Microsoft could compete with Apple’s iPhone and devices running on Android, developed by Google Inc.

Elop, 48, has refused to give sales forecasts for the Lumia models and kept initial expectations low by stressing the long- term work involved in building a new “ecosystem” of applications and developers with Microsoft. The partnership with the world’s largest software maker was announced on Feb. 11.

Hero Handsets?

“There weren’t a lot of the hero handsets out there — HTC were struggling, RIM didn’t have a show-me device, Sony Ericsson and Motorola weren’t really stepping into the mix, so there was probably enough space for Nokia to be able to point to fourth- quarter numbers they were happy with,” said Lee Simpson, a London-based analyst at Jefferies International.

Sales of the Symbian smartphone line declined 36 percent in the two quarters between the Lumia announcement and launch, and will likely have a bigger effect on revenue and profit. Nokia, which reports earnings Jan. 26, probably had a fourth-quarter loss of 92 million euros($119 million), as sales may have fallen 20 percent to 1 billion euros, separate surveys of analysts showed. Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson declined to comment before the release.

Cheaper Models

Nokia’s shares fell 52 percent in 2011. Since the beginning of this year, Nokia has gained 15 percent, while Apple rose 3.8 percent and HTC was down 1.7 percent. The Lumia models won respect from reviewers and bloggers, including 13 awards at the Consumer Electronics Showin Las Vegas.

“What’s really needed is cheaper models to compensate for the declining trend in Symbian, which sold in large numbers in the main smartphone category of 200 to 300 euros,” said FIM Bank analyst Michael Schroeder. Those aren’t likely to come until the second half, he said.

The 420-euro Lumia 800 went on sale in Europe the week of Nov. 14, while the 270-euro Lumia 710 started selling in four Asian markets and Russia in December. Carphone Warehouse Group Plc (CPW)’s website carries Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Y for 115 pounds ($178) without a contract, the Galaxy S 2 for 460 pounds without a contract, and HTC’s Desire S for290 pounds.

Debt Rating Cuts

“Half a million would be realistic and acceptable given the short period of time these handsets have been on the market,” said SEB Enskilda analyst Mats Nystroem of the Lumia.

The fact that Nokia, the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, had been eclipsed in smartphones gradually became apparent to shareholders in the three years after the 2007 Apple iPhone introduction. The discovery erased more than 60 billion euros in value before then-Microsoft executive Elop was appointed to take over in Sept. 2010. Nokia’s debt ratings were cut last year by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on concerns that a turnaround would take too long.

Elop introduced a third model on Jan. 9, the Lumia 900, on AT&T Inc. (T) with a larger screen and the ability to operate on so- called 4G high-speed broadband networks.

Lumia sales may reach 3.2 million units this quarter as the handsets ramp up in Asia, according to the average of 16 analyst estimates. Estimates for full-year sales of Windows Phones have reached as high as 37 million units from Morgan Stanley.

First-quarter estimates range from 1.5 million to 6 million. The smartphone market may have grown 50 percent last year, Gartner Inc. analysts estimated in November, compared with 13.9 percent growth in 2008.

‘Too Rich’

Sales to consumers were probably less than Nokia’s shipments to stores, since the Lumia was not broadly sold out, the analysts said. Apple may have sold 30 million iPhones in the final quarter of 2011, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said.

“The Lumia 800 was just a little bit too rich for a lot of people’s blood in terms of a new Windows Phone,” said Ernest Doku, a technology analyst at uSwitch.com, a U.K. website that helps consumers compare prices. Rivals like Apple have competed by discounting older models that consumers still want, he said.

The Lumia didn’t make USwitch’s top-10 handsets list for December based on user searches and clicks. The list was headed by Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy S2.

Nokia’s fourth-quarter results will also include the N9, a Lumia 800 lookalike running Nokia smartphone software called MeeGo, which began shipping in September at prices from 480 euros. The N9 may have sold 1.4 million units last quarter, Pareto Oehman analyst Helena Nordman-Knutson said.

“People forget it’s not all about Lumia, there’s the N9 as well and it’s part of this transition,” she said. “With these new devices the average selling price could lift because the proportion of lower-priced smartphones will decrease.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki atdbenaaron1@bloomberg.net

Nokia’s Lumia 900 Smartphone To Be A Big Win For Microsoft, Analysts Say

Nokia (NYSE:NOK)’s Lumia 900 smartphone will help the former mobility giant regain much of its lost market share this year, but the new device may prompt an even larger comeback for Microsoft(NSDQ:MSFT), according to report Thursday from market analysts IHS iSuppli.

The Lumia 900 will reportedly launch this March, running Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5. The Lumia smartphone series, also including the lower-end Lumia 710 and Lumia 800, is the first ever from Nokia to depart from the company’s own Symbian OS, which struggled to carve a space for itself within the mobile OS market.

Traditionally, Windows Phone hasn’t met with much success either. In 2011, only 1.9 percent of smartphones ran on a Windows Phone OS while Google (NSDQ:GOOG)’s Android, comparatively, held 47.4 percent.

The anticipated success of Nokia’s Lumia 900, however, is expected to change all that, and ultimately thrust Microsoft to the number two seat with a market share of 16.7 percent by 2015. If IHS iSuppli’s projections prove true, that means in 2015 Windows Phone will beat out iOS, RIM, and all other mobile operating systems on the market, coming second only to Google’s Android.

According to the report, Microsoft’s climb to that number two spot will start almost immediately. Compared to the lackluster 1.9 percent Windows Phone held in 2011, the OS is expected to account for a significantly larger 9 percent in 2012, 15.3 percent in 2013, and 16.1 percent in 2014 – only two percentage points less than the 18 percent Apple’s iOS held last year.

“One of the hottest new products unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show was the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone-based smartphone sporting a flashy set of features that makes it competitive with the best alternatives offered by the Android camp,” wrote Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, in the report. “This hot product represents Nokia’s first step to reclaim its market share. Combined with Nokia’s efforts to drive the development of the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim its No. 2 ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015.”

As Lam suggests, Nokia’s migration from its Symbian OS to Windows Phone will benefit not only Microsoft, but the smartphone maker as well. The Lumia 900’s 4.3-inch touch screen display and 12-megapixel camera will make it a strong contender in consumer markets, and its access to Microsoft’s robust business and enterprise sales channels will give it a leg up in the corporate world.

The Lumia 900 also supports the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard, a feature that IHS iSuppli believes will stir up a particularly positive response within North America – a region the Finland-based Nokia doesn’t typically target.

Overall, though, IHS anticipates most of the Lumia 900’s brand-reviving success to fall onto Microsoft’s lap. As Nokia continues to build up the Windows Phone application “ecosystem” – a phrase that has come to determine a mobile device’s success more than the hardware itself – other vendors are sure to follow suit.

“Because of Nokia’s support, apps developers will eagerly shore up the Windows platform,” Lam explained. “This will cause other makers of Windows Phone devices, such as Samsung and HTC, to offer more products supporting the OS — further expanding the market.”

Paul Thurrott’s Exclusive :Microsoft And Nokia’s Plans For Marketing Windows Phone In 2012 Is Whopping 200 mn

Source: http://goo.gl/vmnU3

With tech blogs leaking somewhat inaccurate information about Microsoft and Nokia’s plans for marketing Windows Phone in the United States during the first half of 2012—and others still predictably parroting that information—I thought it might be worthwhile to set the record straight. Microsoft and Nokia will not spend “in the neighborhood of $100 million” to market Windows Phone this year. The companies are spending much more than that. And that’s just in the United States. In this most crucial of markets, Microsoft has one goal and one goal only: Convince consumers to purchase millions of Windows Phone handsets in the first half of 2012. Doing so will require a new set of phones—as I exclusively detailed previously in Microsoft’s LTE Plans for Windows Phone—as well as stepping up engagement with tech enthusiasts, increasing retail-worker recommendation rates through training ands sales incentives, and other means. But most of all, it’s going to require a lot of money. Nokia is helping, but so are other Windows Phone hardware partners like Samsung. (As you might recall, Nokia previously stated that it would spend more money marketing Windows Phone in the coming year than it had on any previous initiative.) According to the internal Microsoft documentation I’ve viewed, the total cost of this marketing tsunami is in the neighborhood of $200 million, not $100 million. And again, that’s just for the United States. And on AT&T at least, Nokia is outspending Microsoft 2-to-1. Included in the plan are sales incentives for retail workers, aimed at getting them to finally start recommending Windows Phone as an alternative to Android and iPhone. The amount of payments are $10 to $15 per handset sold, depending on the number sold, for some handset models. I don’t want to reveal more, and I’ve been sitting on this information for weeks so that Microsoft can make its big announcement at CES this coming week. But with these leaks, as with the equally inaccurate LTE leaks last week, I felt the need to set the record straight. The way tech blogs work these days is that any information, no matter how inaccurate, is simply parroted between all the gadget blogs and then, inevitably, to the increasingly lazy mainstream news as well. So let’s at least get it right.

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango Review

Microsoft is not a new player in the mobile market. Long before the world heard of iOS and Android they were shipping Windows Mobile on full touchscreen smartphones that were ahead of the curve in the stylus era. Microsoft lost the plot when it came to the new lot of capacitive screens and intuitive UI. People no longer wanted a PC in their hands and that was where we believe Microsoft’s learning had been over the past few years.

The first version of Windows Phone 7 was out in late 2010 and two major releases and a year later, a lot has changed. The platform is stronger than ever before and Redmond has a new partner in Nokia, the beleaguered mobile champion that is fighting its way back into the smartphone world. Windows Phone 7 came in with a radically different concept and the last release, dubbed ‘Mango’, adds much needed speed and over 500 new features.

The Interface

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iOS began with a homescreen full of icons and users kept on adding more in the form of apps. Android came in with multiple homescreens, widgets and an app drawer.

Windows Phone’s Metro UI throws in live tiles on the homescreen and gives you one long list of all apps and settings on another screen. Users can pin any app or contact to start and it would show up as a live tile on the homescreen. The live tiles can throw basic updates, like the number of new emails, number of new Facebook / Twitter notifications or simply the number of missed calls. Though beautiful, this is a lot different than widgets on Android or the lockscreen on iOS 5 that would let you read the Twitter mentions, see who called or read a preview of an incoming message.

Windows Phone 7 visualizes any app as a large canvas and allows one to navigate through it as if you are moving the screen window within that canvas. So you don’t jump into a hierarchy of menus but slide the canvas further to see something new. The beauty that Windows Phone manages is currently unmatched in the mobile space.However, we would wait and see how Microsoft answers the question of productivity with this design.

Each WP7 device has three hardware buttons below the display.These are standard across all devices – Back, Home and Search. At any point, while navigating within the interface, you can jump into the homescreen and press the back key to get back to where you were.

Mango update also brings multitasking to Windows phone. Windows Phone has no exit button for apps and thus the option users need to exercise is either using the back button to reach the previous screen or simply the home button. With the Mango update, users can long press the back key and reach the last 5 apps they used. This isn’t the most productive multitasking gesture compared to task manager on Android, quick jump to any open app on iOS or even the card deck interface seen on webOS. It is common to come across the same app twice when using multitasking on Windows phone (say two different screens of the contact / phone app). Multitasking is one area we would expect to be tweaked with subsequent updates to Windows phone.

Social Media & Cloud
The new windows phone is loaded with social integration and I believe it is the best cloud + social mobile platform out there. Right from the first version of WP7, Microsoft managed to integrate Facebook at OS level. As you setup the device and configure your email IDs, you also get an option to integrate your social networks. With Mango, Microsoft has added Twitter and LinkedIn to the list. You can check-in to places, update status and check your notifications right from the ME tile. It has its own constraints as well; like you can’t reply to all when reverting a twitter mention nor can you see the news feed (both of these would require you to launch the official Facebook / Twitter app). And as I pointed before, you need to jump into the tile to get any info beyond the number of notifications or the name of the person commenting. Yet, the ME tile on WP7 is pretty handy and happens to be lot more productive than any social widget on a smartphone. It worked well even over an ordinary 2G EDGE connection.

The Facebook/Twitter integration also shows in your contacts and once you have synced your contacts the people hub syncs their display pictures and even their latest status updates.

The integrations are not limited to contacts or status updating, you can actually browse through all your Facebook albums in the Pictures hub. The albums aren’t cached locally on your device by default, but as you access each of these albums, the Facebook photos are downloaded. You can see the comments on them and even add new comments right from the pictures hub. This should be a super delight for the ones uploading lots of photos to Facebook.

If you are a Facebook person, you would love the integration on Windows Phone, just watching the continuous flow of display pictures on the live tile is a delight to watch and remember friends. On the flip side, if you aren’t a Facebook / Twitter person, the office and photo options are your only hope to get some value from a Windows Phone device.

Microsoft has integrated SkyDrive on WP7, throwing in 25GB of free storage. The SkyDrive account is mapped with your Hotmail/Live ID. This storage is mainly utilized for photos and documents upload from your Windows Phone.

Productivity
WP7 makes a good push on the work side, syncing calendars, emails and contacts from your Google or Live account. At the moment Windows Phone 7 sets up each email account separately (in a new tile) and that turns out to be a good structure for ones who do not want their email accounts to be interconnected with a unified inbox or a single email app. The good part is that do have option to link inboxes together and that leaves you with more control on how you want to deal with different inboxes.

You can skim through the different tabs inside an email account, these are all (all emails), unread, flagged and urgent. The best part however about email on Windows Phone 7 is the fonts. Windows Phone 7 has the best readability for emails that we have ever seen on a mobile. You can also dig through all your folders/labels by jumping into options.
Selecting multiple emails and dealing with them together is easy using a small checklist button at the bottom which reveals a checkbox next to each email. You can also simply hit the left edge of the screen next to any email and the checkboxes would show up. Emails are threaded and we did see the WP7 email system getting confused with multiple emails with a blank subject being clubbed together in a thread. Other than that little glitch, the threading and emailing works well.

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Microsoft has integrated Office, OneNote and Sharepoint right into Windows Phone 7. Opening attachments and reviewing them on word / excel is smooth. You can also choose to sync all your documents online to your SkyDrive account and access it anytime. Shifting a Windows Phone 7 device resulted in all my previous OneNote and Word & Excel files auto-syncing with the new device (downloads the file names initially and the complete file as you access it). For many who rely on office apps for Android & iOS, WP7’s office integration is a big attraction.

The line between enterprise and consumers has blurred. Given the number of Fortune 500 companies testing / deploying the iPad and the iPhone, Microsoft sure knows that it needs to offer a mix of consumer and business features. While we would wait for phones with different form factors, Windows Phone 7 is believed to be a secure platform, given the tight control Microsoft maintains over the software and hardware.

Performance & Apps
When Windows Phone 7 came out last year, it was termed a good product but work in progress. With the Mango update, Microsoft matched the speed and flow of any latest smartphone OS. The responsiveness of the menus, camera & cloud, office, email etc is top-notch, almost everything that Microsoft bundles worked efficiently.

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The deal isn’t that attractive when you look at the third party apps. The feature set even for basic apps like Twitter / Facebook is far from matching their iOS & Android counterparts. For example, if you click a notification pertaining to a group in the Facebook app, it would launch a browser to show the content. The Twitter app has improved with the Mango update, far better from the initial sluggish days, however it still has many frustrations in its usability. The total number and quality of apps on the Marketplace isn’t very encouraging either and most apps are expensive when compared to their pricing on the iTunes App Store and Android Market.

The apps situation should improve gradually as more Windows Phone devices make it to the market, also given the fact that the platform is just a year old. We would wait to see the marketplace get traction, but for now killer apps isn’t an attraction for Windows Phone 7.

Nokia Windows Phones & Wrap-up

2012 holds the answer to what the mobile market would be for years to come. The top spots are taken by Android and iOS. With webOS and MeeGo falling out, Microsoft is making a come-back and a key partner for Redmond is Nokia. Reinventing itself with an entire range of Windows phones, the Finnish giant has a tough task at hand. Ability to roll-out low cost smartphones and good apps would be crucial for Nokia / WP7 to succeed. With the Metro UI laden Windows 8 making an entry in 2012 and given the traction tablets have, Microsoft seems to be in the game for now.

Samsung ambushes Nokia in smartphone war

In a packed theatre, scores of excited movie buffs sat through a long march of commercials patiently, but the organisers were dismayed. It was an exclusive premier of SRK-starrer Ra.One for mobile phone maker Nokia’s premium users at PVR Select City Walk mall in Delhi, but the advertisements that had been running for the previous few minutes were ofSamsung mobile!

That was in October. Two months later, when Nokiarolled out Lumia cabs in Bangalore as part of its biggest marketing drive in the country to promote its first Windows smartphone, Samsung brought out its own Omnia cab and stationed it outside the Lumia showroom for a few days.

Analysts call it ambush marketing, Samsung says it’s not. Whatever, but the cut-throat competition between the country’s top two mobile handset players looks like the old Cola War between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo and refreshes memories of Pepsi’s ‘Nothing official about it’ campaign during the 1996 cricket World Cup that introduced the concept of ambush marketing in India.

“We do not acknowledge, react or engage in ambush marketing,” a Nokia spokesperson says. “We believe in responsible marketing, where we will disclose more than what is required to our consumers, as we did in the case of the minor software glitch in Lumia 800.”

Samsung denies ambushing Nokia, and says both the examples were part of independent marketing initiatives. “We were running a media innovation in October for tablets wherein all screens at Ambience Mall PVR and Inox in Mumbai showed the ads,” a Samsung spokeswoman says.

Samsung Move Won’t Affect Nokia

And there was no ‘Lumia Cab’ in Bangalore when Samsung rolled out a convoy of ‘Omnia W’ cabs for three days, she says, adding they were parked outside Samsung Smartphone Cafes.

“Ambush marketing rules apply if there are territorial rules that are applicable, as in the case of cricket World Cup… In the case of smartphones, all companies are aggressively trying to grow the category,” she says.

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE & WAR

Samsung has emerged the most aggressive mobile handset maker over the past couple of years. It pipped Apple as the world’s top smartphone player during the July-September quarter last year and in India, GfK data suggests Samsung may have already overtaken Nokia as the largest smartphone vendor in value terms, thanks to the rising popularity of its Google Android phones led by the Galaxy range.

The marketing war in India has intensified after Nokia rolled out its first Windows-based smartphone, Lumia, last month. Samsung has started pushing its own Windows smartphone Omnia, launched more than a year ago, harder.

An email comparing Lumia 800 and Omnia W features and concluding ‘Why donate 9,000 extra to Nokia’ is in circulation. While Samsung denies any connection with the mail, Nokia says ambush marketing is not about deriding the other brand. “Ambush marketing, if done in a creative manner, appeals to the consumers,” says a Nokia spokesperson. “It’s not a crude attack on the rival.”

Some marketing experts believe Samsung is playing it smart. “Competition is all about being opportunistic and scoring a goal when the rival is least prepared. And that’s where Samsung has proved to be a better player,” says Saurabh Uboweja, director of brand consulting and design firm Brands of Desire.

Even if customers think Samsung played the smart Alec, it won’t hurt the brand as the ambush creates the perception of a smart, witty and on-the-go brand, says Uboweja.

“It’s much like the customers today who don’t feel guilty about pulling a leg or playing a prank on their peers,” he adds.

RULES OF AMBUSH

Former advertising professional and chick lit writer Anuja Chauhan says focused ambushing is better than rapid-fire ambushing. “It makes more sense to keep it (ambush) more informative and publicise it,” says Chauhan, who came up with the ‘Nothing official about it’ tagline for Pepsi in 1996.

The aim of the ambush is to leverage the strength of the competitor. It has to be smart and not say derogatory things about the competitor, she says. An independent analyst says Samsung’s strategy won’t affect Nokia.

“Even in a war, ambush is the recourse of an upstart, and not of the ruler,” says the analyst, requesting anonymity. “At best, ambush can be a tactical move. But it won’t hurt Nokia.”

YLR Moorthi, professor (marketing), IIM-Bangalore, says ambush marketing somehow speaks of a company not confident of holding out in the open. “Samsung is a challenger in the mobile market in India. So, they might be seeking out opportunities to hurt Nokia,” he says.

And it has managed to bridge the gap with Nokia considerably in the smartphone segment, which accounts for some 8% of the 213-million Indian handset market. According to latest IDC figures, Nokia accounted for 35.3% of all smartphone shipments in the country during the July-September quarter last year, followed by Samsung at 26%.

In the overall mobile phone market, the market shares are 31.8% and 17.5%, respectively, for Nokia and Samsung. Deepak Kumar, research director (telecommunications & mobile phones) at IDC India, says the smartphone landscape in India will remain fluid for the next couple of quarters.

“The picture would start becoming clear in the second half of 2012, when the various operating system platforms would have mostly unfolded their plays across a variety of hardware,” says Kumar.