Skip to main content

Microsoft and Nokia: 10 important strategies Redmond needs to implement

In April, Microsoft concluded its acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division, announced in September 2013. With ownership comes responsibility, which starts with Microsoft preserving and reviving an iconic brand. Before the phone maker fumbled the touchscreen smartphone market, the brand dominated the world – commanding overwhelming cellular handset market share across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Some competitors strayed from the path Microsoft follows. For example, Google wrongly sold Motorola to Lenovo, which is reason for big smiles over at Redmond. Hardware's research and development value to software and services cannot be overstated. Apple gets it, and I thought Big G did, too. Nokia is a vitally important asset to Microsoft that goes way beyond Windows Phone.

There are many things the software giant should do with the device manufacturer. I recommend a few during the early-stage transition, offered in no particular order of importance. They're all equally important.

1. Keep the Nokia brand, sideline Lumia

There is no visible Lumia brand on my Windows Phone – just Nokia and Icon, as it should be. The company that invented the smartphone is still a global brand, which is valuable capital, should the new owner use it wisely. Additionally, too many brands cause customer confusion. Nokia and Windows Phone is best, with a sprinkle of Microsoft.

2. Advertise, advertise, advertise

Products don't sell themselves. You have to tell people about them and promote their benefits. During US primetime TV, I sometimes see iPhone 5S "powerful" commercials more than five times. Nokia ads? None.

3. Amp carrier co-marketing bucks

Verizon kickstarted Android back when Samsung meant little more to Apple than a mosquito. The carrier launched the Droid brand in late 2009 – just a year after the Google OS debuted – with a $100 million (£58 million) ad campaign that changed everything. Now in the US, Verizon has the Icon and AT&T the Lumia 1020. Microsoft should kick carrier advertising with incentives. Referring back to the previous point: Advertise, advertise, advertise. Icon has the right brand and features, but people have to want to buy it.

4. Sell aspiration

Apple does this so well. While competitors innovate, the fruit-logo company makes modest iPhone improvements, then makes them appear to be so much greater by way of advertising. People buy things that make them feel good about themselves – things which they believe will make their lives better. Nokia phones can capture your life like none other. That's a hugely aspirational benefit that Apple and Google sell but Lumia handsets deliver wonderfully. So tell everyone.

5. Offer even more Nokia apps

Critics complain about the applications divide that separates Windows Phone from Android and iOS. But many of the best apps are home-grown. Keep them all and develop even more. I have a dozen Nokia apps on my Icon. Let's double the number and fill the gaps with a mountain. You don't need a third-party developer to create the next Instagram. The killer app can be home-grown.

6. Make appropriate Nokia apps available in the Windows Store

Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, and Storyteller are ripe for tablets, and not just those made by Nokia. Let's see them and other apps easily installed on Surface and other Windows RT 8.1 devices.

7. Make more noise about Nokia Conversations

The blogsite is a great marketing asset that engages true enthusiasts around key benefits, such as photography. Days past, before Google dominated maps, Conversations showed the world via Nokia apps that could find things and whereabouts you were. The tools remain, but they need more exposure.

8. Enliven Nokia Labs

The other great blogsite, which like Conversations pre-dates the Windows Phone platform switch, engages enthusiasts and lets them participate in app development. Thanks, Nokia. My account abandoned five years ago is still active; I signed in yesterday.

9. Imitate Moto E and G

Motorola has the right idea with quality, unlocked smartphones that offer a little less for big savings. Nokia Asha and X handsets compromise too much. Lumia 500 and 600 series models steer in the right direction but they don't reach the destination, which is the enormous number of Nokia dumb-phone users looking for better at a reasonable price.

10. Give away phones

Microsoft should work with NGOs and other local organisations to provide the world's poorest people with free smartphones. Market share matters more than immediate profits, particularly when so many people have Nokia phones already. Keep them on the brand and empower them with supporting apps and services.

These interests are mutually self-serving. Nokia's brand remains vital. Users create content and connections tied to Microsoft platforms. People are empowered by devices and Internet connectivity to learn and to prosper. Real aspiration isn't marketing that convinces people their lives will be better, rather it's providing tools that really do.