Ditching Nokia brand ‘not a gamble’ says Microsoft

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Head of B2B sales Williams: ‘There’s always a risk but it wasn’t something done without considering the impact’

Microsoft says it has no regrets on ditching the Nokia brand from its handsets, as Windows Phone homes in on B2B leadership.

Speaking at the Ingram Micro Mobility Reseller Forum in Luton last month, Microsoft head of B2B sales (UK and Ireland) Adrian Williams told Mobile News the technology giant had not taken the decision lightly, but feedback and research showed the market resonated more with the Lumia rather than Nokia.

The technology giant unveiled its first non-Nokia branded device, the Lumia 535 in November last year, following its £4.5 billion acquisition of the then Finnish (now American) manufacturers mobile arm in April.

“It wasn’t a gamble,” said Williams. “The organisation did a lot of research in terms of the branding and the insights were positive towards our decision.

“Clearly, there is always risk in these kinds of decisions but it wasn’t something that we stepped into without considering the impact.

“It was done by the brand team to make sure we kept what we had built, and what we had built was a brand, but with Lumia. That was what resonated with people, not so much Nokia.”

On track for being biggest in B2B

One area Microsoft is seeing substantial growth in is B2B, an area Williams claims is fuelled by quality of product and service rather than the name on a device.

According to figures from Canalys Microsoft’s target of becoming the UK’s biggest smartphone manufacturer for B2B this year is on track. Figures show Microsoft made up 25.6 per cent of B2B sales in the final three months of 2014 – up from 21 per cent for the previous quarter. Market leader Apple accounted for 29 per cent of B2B sales for the same quarter.

“From a Windows Phone point of view, we’ve gone from zero to more than 20 per cent in the space of two years, so it’s been relatively successful in a highly competitive market,” he said. “The aspiration is to challenge for number one by the end of our financial year – ending June.”

BB harvest

Much of its growth in B2B, according to Williams, has come at the expense of rival BlackBerry, admitting the firm has actively targeted its customers in a bid to switch them to its Windows platform. His comments are backed by figures from Canalys, which show BlackBerry’s share of the enterprise market fell from a near dominant 18 per cent in Q2 2013 to just five per cent a year later. nokia-lumia-520-color-range-2-web

Whilst BlackBerry, as heavily suggested at the event, is now showing signs of improvement following a company overhaul, question marks over its future has seen long-term customers explore other available options.

“BlackBerry has been the immediate opportunity for us,” said Williams. “There was a lot of enterprises out there who have considered what other options are out there and we joined those conversations.

“From a personal point of view, branding is important to some extent and it is in the equation, but it’s not everything. There is a certain amount of time that you will stick with a brand but unless it continues to evolve, develop and give you more, then it will tire with you.

“The security story was key. Even if you can match the BlackBerry capability on security, you have to be fundamentally secure. That limited other companies from falling in to that space. It was opportune but we took advantage of it.”

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