Nokia’s Q2 2012 financial results are a difficult mixture of hope – twice as many Windows Phone sales as Q1 – and misery – a $1bn operating loss – but one thing was conspicuous by its absence: a tablet. The Finnish company is still in “transition” mode, senior execs reminded us, with the promise of next-gen Microsoft OSes just around the corner to shake up the Android and iOS battle once more. However, Nokia’s complete absence of a visible tablet strategy went unchallenged.
Previous risk assessments from Nokia suggested the company’s lack of a footprint in both smartphones and tablets was a significant issue moving forward, especially given Apple’s successes with the iPhone and iPad, and Android’s proliferation across both form-factors. However there’s still no movement in form-factor expansion from the company.
That’s not to say there weren’t some hints along the way. “We expect the launch of Windows 8 for tablets and PCS, and Windows Phone 8, to be a catalyst for Lumia” Elop said during the financial results call Q&A. Note, that’s “Lumia” in general, not specifically “Lumia phones”; that could be the abbreviation of a CEO busy talking a lot about a narrow topic, or it could be the first signs of a Lumia brand expanding to encompass devices larger than simple handsets.
Cross-platform software development was one of Microsoft’s most emphasized advantages for Windows Phone 8, sharing the same underlying kernel as Windows 8 for PCs and tablets. As it stands, Nokia is only really poised to appreciate part of that advantage; in fact, with the company’s navigation services crossing over to all Windows Phones come v.8, Nokia’s individual value-add could be diluted even further than it stands today.
Back in April 2011, Elop talked about holding off from tablets until there was something “uniquely Nokia” that the company could bring to the slate marketplace. The window for opportunity is fast approaching on that, however, and Nokia needs to get into the game lest rivals like Samsung steal its thunder with tightly-integrated Windows Phones and Windows tablets.