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New Nokia Lumia 1020 - 41 Megapixel Shooter

Introduction

The cellphone handset market has become incredibly cut-throat, where once great smartphones are now an everyday thing, easily duplicated and as a result have become a near commodity. They all offer no real or new innovation so there is a constant rush to bring the next great thing to the market and a patent war as each tech company jockeys for position to release the next great smartphone which has become so incredibly lucrative that it has turned the once near bankruptcy Apple into the largest company in the world, and by far the biggest and most profitable tech company in the world.

Just to put things in perspective, Apple, which derives about 70% of all its profits from its cellphone business, currently dominates the smartphone market with such dominance that it collects nearly 70% of the industry's entire profits. That is remarkable given just 5 years ago Apple knew nothing about making cellphones yet now it has displaced and in some cases bankrupt once titans of the cellphone industry. One of these once greats, who at one point owned more than half of the planets cellphone market is Nokia.

Unfortunately for Nokia, when Apple announced they would be making a cellphone, the CEO at the time only laughed and ridiculed the fact that a computer software company would come into their market and somehow make a better phone. The dual CEOs at the time, from the once fledgling Blackberry Corporation, also ridiculed Steve Jobs and mocked his claims that he would release a true smart phone. We all know what happened of course, just months later, some 5 years ago, Apple released a revolutionary phone which was seen as a joke because it had no keyboard and no removable battery but it did offer something no other phone did: apps or applications.

Of course, this revolutionized the cellphone industry but because the CEOs of Nokia and Blackberry were so arrogant they still did not see the danger and even 4 years later, as recent as last year, nor Nokia nor Blackberry managed to produce an answer to the iPhone. And keep in mind, these companies were hugely profitable and had massive multi-billion dollar R&D budgets so it's hard to imagine how any company can spend so much money and still not come up with a single, viable cellphone to compete with the iPhone. I suppose it is true: pride comes before the fall and fall they did.

Nokia fell to near bankruptcy with a low of $1.67 just last year and has barely rebounded to around $4 now - peanuts for a company which was once valued at over $200 Billion dollars and commanded more than half the planet's cellphone loyalists. And blackberry didn't fair much better - its two arrogant CEOs have been fired - I can't believe they were allowed to stick around as long as they did given they never did put out a phone to compete with the iPhone. Fortunately for consumer, both Blackberry and Nokia are now getting their act together, but the question is, is it too late?

For the good of consumers, prices, innovation and choice let's hope these two companies survive the Apple and Samsung attack because Samsung was the only company who saw the potential of Apple's iPhone and started copying their products right away - and is now paying fines in the billions and plenty of royalties as well, a small price to pay compared to their other industry nemeses whom are facing imminent bankruptcies.

Nokia introduced the much anticipated and previously leaked smartphone, the Nokia Lumia 1020, relying on an Ultra high-resolution camera, 41 megapixels to be exact, advanced navigation and positioning services and other technical specifications an obvious return to ultra-premium hardware in an attempt to revive sales, in a market otherwise dominated by Samsung and Apple.

Nokia and the Other Players

Nokia has been on a tear over the past 12 months as it tries to grab as much of it's exclusive windows only market, as it has an exclusive deal with Microsoft. Given it cannot offer the popular Android operating system which is the best cellphone OS in the world right now, mainly due to apps and the fact that Google gives it away for free, at least for now, Nokia has chosen to partner with Microsoft, on an exclusive basis, where Nokia licenses Windows Mobile and in return it receives $1 Billion per year as support payments as well as marketing assistance.

So far the plan to go exclusive with Microsoft has not worked out very well as Nokia's stock price has plummeted, from around $12 per share, when the ex Microsoft executive, Steven Elop, took over just over 3 years ago to a low of $1.68 and now the stock price sits at $4, after a recent run-up on rumors that Nokia plans to sell its handset division to Microsoft for approximately $20 billion.

Given the smartphone market has become so saturated and overall market growth has slowed Nokia has little choice, especially since the last quarter also showed that they are now losing market share in their bread and butter markets, the low end - emerging markets (i.e., China, India, Brazil)where up until now Nokia has easily dominated with its Symbian smartphones but most of all it's extremely popular ASHA line of phones.

But cheap Android phones from the likes of Samsung and more so, Chinese manufacturers are starting to now erode the bottom market share Nokia once used to dominate with such ease. This is the main theory behind the idea that Nokia is prepping a sale of their struggling handset division to Microsoft, after which they will most likely focus on networking production and sales (having bought the other half of NSN from Siemens), location services and GPS.

But this doesn't mean Nokia cannot stop innovating and fight to be the 3rd and lucrative eco-system, a battle right now between them and the even more struggling, Blackberry, who was very late at reacting against the iPhone and much too slow at launching a viable iPhone competitor, which they now have with the Z10 which has done well, but according to some analysts, not good enough.

The 1020

Nokia has just introduced the Lumia smartphone 1020, relying on a high-resolution camera, the best the world has ever seen at 41 megapixels, advanced navigation and location services and other technical specifications an obvious plan to return to premium hardware in an effort to revive sales and profits in their ailing devices and services sector, in a market, as outlined above, dominated by Samsung and Apple.

The Lumia 1020 is equipped with a 41 megapixel digital camera, the best [by far] in the cellphone industry, that makes capturing sharp, vivid and colorful images as good or better than most point and shoot cameras.

The Lumia 1020 will be available [Exclusively] on July 26th, 2013, to U.S. operator AT&T, at a contract price of $ 299.99, of course, with a two-year subscription. And just like all other Nokia Lumia phones, the new model will also be running Windows Phone OS developed by Microsoft, per their ongoing exclusive partnership.

Microsoft must be realizing that it is running out of time as it has been over three years now since their former executive, Steven Elop, has taken over the top spot, as CEO, at Nokia, and thus far the sales results after numerous iterations and upgrades to various Nokia Lumia lines have consistently disappointed wall-street while rarely managing to even reach lowered internal goals set by Nokia's management.

The problem was in large part due to poor execution by the CEO as product launch after product launch faced massive parts shortages, even when sales volumes were only a fraction of what Apple and Samsung put out. Considering Nokia has the largest and most robust supply chain in the industry makes this fact even more unbelievable, as Nokia owns nearly a dozen state of the art plants all over the world so they manufacture most of their own phones and tablets themselves.

The Nokia bets on their digital imaging technology in an attempt to outshine the competition flagship models - Apple iPhone 5 has a camera with 8 megapixel resolution and Samsung Galaxy S4 is equipped with a 13 megapixel sensor, although the latter is not even as good in any light as the smaller and older iPhone 5's camera. Needless to say, this new Nokia Lumia 1020 with its 41 Megapixel camera is hands down the best phone camera on the market and many would argue that it beats a good portion of the point and shoot cameras out there. Truly a great reason to buy a new Nokia cellphone as you'd never have to worry about bringing that camera with you anymore. What's more amazing, the dim light pictures with the Lumia 1020 are also remarkable, even without using the flash.

A truly innovative piece of technology - something this industry needs to push Samsung and Apple to bring out the best tech they have stashed away in their labs, because let's be honest, over the last couple of years it feels like Apple has been dragging their feet. And why not, if there's nobody out there even close to what you're offering then what incentive do you have to release the best, often most expensive tech. Alas, now Apple doesn't have much of a choice so I can't wait to see their new, upcoming iPhone 5S and especially their new iPhone 6 which some rumors speculate will be out around the same time as the 5S. One can dream, can't we?

Specs and Sales

To top off the incredible Megapixel Mania in the 1020, the model is also equipped with image stabilization technology, a separate button to activate the camera and xenon flash. Also, the user can adjust the flash power software, shutter speed or exposure - yet more features you currently don't see on any iPhones or Samsung phones.

furthermore, Lumia 1020 has a 4.5 inch diagonal screen, dual-core processor at a frequency of 1.5 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The screen is made of gorilla 3 glass - resistant to impacts and scratches, and the model will be available in three colors - white, black or yellow.

Volume sales of Nokia smartphones declined by 49% in the first quarter of this year (thanks to the quickest product death in history, their Symbian smartphones), the increase of smartphones such as the Lumia line were insufficient to cover the decline in other older [Symbian] models.

Lumia smartphone sales rose 27% in the period to 5.6 million units. Nokia estimated in April they will sell in the just passed] second quarter at least 7.11 million units, globally. Given they have missed their own projections in the past I wouldn't hold my breath on that prediction but one can hope this time they've hit the nail on the head.

Conclusion

It is obvious that Nokia is running out of time as it was once again downgraded one more notch to junk status (B+) this past week by S&P, who also downgraded them last year to Junk Status along with the other two major bond ratings agencies. Given Nokia has approximately $6 billion in debt this is not good news, but they do have enough cash, just over $3 billion to get them through the remainder of this year and most of next year.

Nokia did spend just over $2 billion dollars to buy the other half of NSN, its networking company, in which it has been a 50/50 partner with Siemens for well over a decade. With a 100% ownership now, Nokia can freely sell its handset division to Microsoft for what most believe is worth roughly $20 billion and then use that cash to buy back some of the 4 billion shares outstanding, and focus on Location Services, Networking and Navteq - a GPS company they paid $8 Billion for a few years back and which offers the best GPS and location services data in the world.

Since the handset business has become so ultra-competitive and there's such a stronghold on the industry by the likes of Apple and Samsung, then it may just be the best thing for Nokia to sell that part of the company for a pretty penny and once again become a strong and viable company. Nokia has come a long way from manufacturing rubber and wood products to becoming the number 1 cellphone company in the world during the 80's and part of the 90's. Perhaps the time has come to once again re-invent itself and move onto a new industry where they will helpfully bring the same innovative spirit and world class design and quality they once brought to our lives via their cellphones.

- Maximilian Wilhelm

Citations


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