Why are Nokia releasing their most powerful camera phone on Symbian, instead of @windowsphone software?

Whatever their intentions, the biggest splash Nokia have made at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) has been the announcement of their 41 megapixel camera, the Pureview 808.

That’s right. 41. Not 4.1. Forty-one.

This makes it significantly the most powerful camera available on any phone and gave them some much needed headlines across the world as they seek to regain their old market competitiveness.

And yet.

The articles I’ve read haven’t all been universal in their praise outside of discussions centring on just the camera. Why? Because they’re putting the hardware out using an Operating System they’ve already buried, Symbian.

We all know that Nokia has thrown their hat in with Windows Phone 7 and indeed the success of both now depends on how well the other can do in selling the package.

In which case, why put your biggest, newest product to market on an OS you’ve already announced will soon no longer be supported?

I’m sure Nokia have their reasons but their continued release schedule of Symbian phones, albeit in smaller numbers than Windows Phones, mystifies me.

If I remember rightly their Q4 2011 numbers were down on what they expected not because their Windows Phones were under-performing, but because the death of Symbian has been vastly accelerated once they acknowledged they would no longer support it.

This was surely anticipated anyway as there is precisely zero reason to invest your time and money as a consumer into a phone that will have no support from the manufacturer or developer. It was utterly predictable.

So I don’t understand why Nokia’s response to that would be to put out a super-powered cameraphone on a system that is dying faster than their own predictions could estimate.

I’m not doubting Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone but I don’t see the business case for what they are doing.

Their joint venture with Windows Phone was announced long enough ago that any existing plans could have been stopped by now. It can’t have been the case that it was cheaper to release the phone than cut the project short. Pureview has been in development for five years, but there’s no reason it couldn’t have switched from Symbian to Windows Phone. I’d sooner delay it and get it on Windows Phone first time than put it on a dead system first.

The only plausible explanation I can think of is perhaps if the new 41MP phone will be made from existing hardware specs that Nokia still have in surplus and the only new piece will be the camera.

Even in this situation I’d still have thought it would be cheaper not to bother than to release it and watch it die while people wait for a Windows Phone version.

Aren’t we going to be in a situation that when the phone is released Nokia will be competing essentially with itself? Which phone is going to be the number one premium phone on Nokia once it is released? The 41MP beast or the Nokia Lumia 900?

What if sales soar of the new phone? They’re potentially going to be cannibalising their own sales as the phones they actually need to do well – the Lumias – to save the company will be overshadowed by their new phone on their old, dead operating system.

I’m sure Nokia have a long term strategy and this is just one piece of that, and they have announced that the ‘Pureview’ technology that powers the camera will be coming to Windows Phone. However even that knowledge merely highlights the pointlessness of buying a Symbian 41MP phone when a Lumia Windows Phone will be coming out with one within a year or whatever.

At best Nokia will argue that they are targeting two different types of consumer, with the Pureview 808 being aimed at camera buffs while the smartphone crowd in general will go for the Nokia Lumia’s and the bargain basement crowd who can’t afford a proper smartphone (nothing wrong with that) will go for their other phones, the Ashas or whatever they’re called.

I can just about see that, but if you’re going to put out a 41MP camera phone that gets the world talking I still don’t buy the argument it should be on a dead OS. They could easily have a Lumia Pureview and bundle it into the Windows Phone ecosystem, putting both Nokia and the Windows Phone OS centre stage across the world.

The irony is that at the end of the MWC it’s the Lumia 610 that’s picked up a slew of awards for the best budget smartphone and even best in show. If only they’d put out a Lumia Pureview.

As it stands Nokia have just announced a premium smartphone that will be competing with the OS they desperately need to succeed to survive. Where’s the business case in that?

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