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Nokia's Windows comeback: Great but what's next?

Lumia 800 arrived in the nick of time

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The Hard Sell

Well expect to see an awful lot of Lumia.

Windows Phone really impresses when you first use it, something Nokia has twigged. Most people have yet to see it first hand – and so Nokia is putting a great deal of expense into the point-of-sale marketing. Phone shops will have a real live Windows Phone for punters to paw at. The phone will reset to its demo default after a couple of hours – so customers can't mangle it.

And it's going to be inescapable, too. The operators are rooting for a third competitor to the Apple-Android duopoly. They don't like either Apple or Google, and view a market with three strong suppliers as much healthier than one with two – who are increasingly, it has to be said, copying each other.

But there's still a long way to go. One swallow doesn't make a summer, or spell comeback for Nokia.

There's a lot to add to the Mango iteration of the platform: Skype, tethering, customisations, device search, and overall, a little more freedom to differentiate. That hard-coded Bing button is not just an annoyance, but a constant, throbbing reminder of the rush in which the Lumia 800 came to market. It's a Microsoft-mandated option, but I can't imagine Nokia not wanting to use it for something else. Or remove it altogether. Currently, they're not allowed to.

And what is today the sheer novelty of having a nice smartphone with 'NOKIA' imprinted on it, won't work the second time. Reviewers will not be inclined to be generous to the platform provider or hardware company. Nokia still has an Achilles' Heel: it doesn't have a coherent design story – and design decisions let the Lumia 800 down badly. Nokia Design is really winging it, for now, with its camp colour palette. The critics claim that Nokia's "chief designer" isn't really a designer. They're beginning to have a point.

Still, Nokia can see a bit of light now. It has something worthwhile to sell. One little-noticed statistic from the channel – I'm surprised more hasn't been made of this – is that Nokia's UK sales collapsed by a staggering 87 per cent in Q3 to just 130,000 units.

One Windows phone doesn't make for a rounded portfolio. But it looks like it has arrived just in the nick of time. ®

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