news More than 70 percent of staff at the local division of elevator manufacturing company KONE picked a model from Nokia’s Lumia handset line over other options from Apple, HTC and Samsung, when given the choice, the Finnish manufacturer claimed in a statement issued yesterday.
According to Nokia, KONE, which appears to have several hundred staff in Australia and manufactures elevators and elevators, recently implemented a hybrid Bring Your Own Device/Choose Your Own Device policy which sees employees to use their own smartphone or receive a free work smartphone from a range of manufacturers including Nokia, Apple, HTC and Samsung. KONE Australia’s strategic sourcing manager, Colleen Upsall, said: “As part of the refresh, we were looking for a range of smartphones that catered to all levels of the business, from maintenance and installation to senior managers and directors.”
To date, according to Nokia’s statement, 300 employees in Australia and 60 employees in New Zealand have selected Nokia Lumia citing features such as Nokia Drive, Microsoft Lync, SharePoint and the Windows Phone People Hub as key factors in their decision. “It’s a great vote of confidence and reflects the positive feedback we have been getting for the Nokia Lumia smartphones,” Upsall said.
Upsall added that from the Lumia range, operational employees at the company were offered the low-range Lumia 610, with other staff having access to the Lumia 800 and 710 models, and director-level staff getting access to the top-end Lumia 920 model, which represents the most powerful and feature-rich model in the Lumia range.
In general, Upsall said the company’s move to predominantly use Lumia handsets had had a positive impact on the company’s operations. The transition to Nokia Lumia has enabled “increased productivity for staff on site and in transit”, Nokia’s statement said, with time-critical and important business tasks completed on the go, without the need to return to the office.
“Teams are more productive on the road,” Upsall added. “Instead of having to find a café with WiFi or go back to the office, they can either work directly from their phone or tether their Nokia Lumia handset to their laptop to work on tasks that require access to a bigger screen.” And the company also praised the Lumia line’s mapping functionality: “With Nokia’s free navigation service, Nokia Drive, our team can find the site quickly and easily,” Upsall said.
“The People Hub feature of Windows Phone is another great tool which helps organise teams internally. Sales and operations staff have already set-up groups, which allow management to stay in touch with co-workers across text, Facebook, Twitter, MSN Chat and email,” Upsall added.
The news of KONE’s predominantly Lumia deployment comes as only the latest corporate rollout of Lumia models disclosed by Nokia in Australia over the past few months. In October, for example, food manufacturer Sara Lee picking the series ahead of competing options from Apple and Android.
In late May, the Australian division of tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also picked Nokia’s Windows Phone 7-based Lumia 800 smartphone as its platform of choice for its corporate smartphone fleet, and in June it was construction firm Buildcorp which announced its intention to adopt the Lumia series.
However, things haven’t all gone Nokia’s way. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, for example, recently revealed it would standardise its mobile phone fleet on the Apple iPhone, and Woolworths also recently confirmed it would dump the Blackberry platform for the iPhone. Rollouts of Android models in corporate environments appears to be more thin on the ground locally, however.
OK, I’m going to be blatantly honest with my opinion here.
Frankly, I don’t think Nokia is telling the whole truth in this situation (not unusual for a press release). If you sat down 400-odd employees of any major organisation and asked them what smartphone they wanted: An iPhone, a Samsung or HTC Android model or a Lumia, I strongly suspect that the iPhone and a Samsung model (the Galaxy S III, most likely) would come out ahead of whatever Lumia models were offered. Lumia is just not yet that huge a brand-name in Australia yet, and most people still prefer iOS or Android over Windows Phone.
I suspect that what has happened here is a combination of factors. Probably Nokia has some kind of sweetheart deal with KONE which made the company more likely to prefer the Lumia over rival iPhone or Android models. Nokia is highly focused on corporate rollouts in Australia right now due to the synthesis of Windows Phone 7/8 with Microsoft’s corporate software platforms, so this makes sense. And Apple and the Android manufacturers don’t specialise in corporate rollouts, although Apple’s getting better at it.
In addition, I note that Nokia’s media release makes no mention of which iPhone and Android models were on offer. Judging from the situation at the Commonwealth Bank (where employees were offered the iPhone 4S, despite the fact that the iPhone 5 had been released), I suspect that most KONE employees were not offered the latest iPhone or Android models; perhaps it might have been the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S II? Also, perhaps lesser models in HTC’s One series (not the One X or XL, but perhaps the One V? Or even the Desire X?). These are all decent models, but I suspect most people would prefer an iPhone 5 over any Lumia model, if offered a smartphone for work.
Either way, I personally don’t think it’s realistic that 70 percent of people, when asked what smartphone they preferred independent of other factors, would choose a Lumia. I’d put that figure at 10-15 percent, perhaps 20 percent, maximum. This is just my opinion based on current market share of the Australian market as a whole.
Secondly, I’d like to call out Kone here for what I think is a somewhat tight-fisted approach to corporate smartphone deployment. If you want to annoy the normal employees of a company and drive a wedge between them and upper management, there probably is no better way to do that than to give upper management the best smartphones money can buy, and offer lesser models to those down below.
Sure, there’s a substantial price difference between the 610 ($179 at Mobicity) and the 920 ($749 at Mobicity), but if you read Delimiter’s review of the 610, you’d probably realise that there’s not much point buying a 610 in the first place, when you can buy a 710 for only a little more, and the Lumia 800 for only a little more than that (the Lumia 800 is going for $269 at the moment). By going for the cheapest phones for its low-ranking staff and the most expensive phones for its upper management, KONE is likely to drive a wedge between both. If it was me, I’d offer an upper-middle range model to both for only a little extra; and likely keep both sides happy. This is normally the pricing sweet spot in the smartphone market anyway.
Having said all of this, this story is still an overwhelmingly positive one for Nokia. Lots of people like to be down on Nokia at the moment. However, I’m overall pretty positive about the company. Its Lumia smartphones have been reviewing well (I’ve tested most of the recent range personally) and there is no doubt they are winning deals in corporate Australia. Deals that, only a few years ago, likely would have been sewn up by BlackBerry. There’s no doubt that Nokia’s main competition in the corporate smartphone space at the moment is Apple. I’d like to see the likes of Samsung and HTC win some more deals in this area in Australia as well.
Image credit: Nokia