The technology used for oversampling, and the inspiration taken from satellite imaging techniques is the main innovation. It needed a 41MP sensor to be able to create high quality 5/8MP photos. Strategically, this makes perfect sense, where everyone else in the smartphone battle has been focused on screen size, CPUs and other iterative minor improvements, this implementation has made people stand up and take notice.
We must remember that this is a Technology innovation, therefore it can be carried forward to any of Nokia’s future portfolio, as such, if they have ringfenced the IP around the tech, it bodes well as a competitive differentiator.
Focus on Camera
In terms of people not buying this because of the current OS that the tech sits on, this only affects one part of the mobile phone purchasing market. This is about targeting a certain niche. In terms of buyer preferences, different segments have different critical choices. If the rest of the package is good enough (Speed, Social, connectivity), those who hold a higher purchasing priority for camera will go for the camera capabilities. Likewise, those who prioritize apps will go for iOS or Android (or Windows Phone). In this respect the rest of the phone just needs to be good enough to capture the target camera market, which Symbian Belle seems to be (not outstanding but good enough).
This has been a mixed bag. Many initial reports focused on the 41MP headline. and failed to read further into where the real innovation was. For example, this is the first time i recall digital camera fanzines reporting about a smartphone camera. However, many tech ‘blogs’ have dismissed it due to the headline marketing number.
But! The headline marketing is essentially “linkbait”. To market pureview as producing super-high quality 5/8MP photos wouldn’t have the same marketing impact. Therefore, to get more eyeballs, and to attract the correct niche market, the headline MP count was the most effective. The con is that people report about the MP rather than the technology. The major pro is that it grabs headlines.
The technology has been in development for 5 years, waiting to release it on Windows Phone would mean delays. The technology is almost ready, and the window to announce was good. Amongst all the quad-core CPUs and high resolution screens, this announcement clearly grabbed mindshare for Nokia. Therefore it was important to announce the capability that Nokia still has, and the value they add as a manufacturer (irrelevant of platform) to smartphones. By announcing now, any future product’s camera by any manufacturer will be compared to the pureview. It has become the ‘de-facto’ comparison. Effectively giving Nokia some long-tail marketing.
Setting up the pipeline
Hidden amongst all the messages is that Pureview technology is that it will be released on future devices in different configurations. Effectively opening up an ‘upgrade’ path for people who want the camera tech. Want it now, buy the Symbian device, App ecosystem too important that you want to skip it for now, wait for it on another platform. Announcing it now builds up anticipation for future releases of pureview, essentially giving people a different reason to buy a Nokia Windows Phone. It also give Microsoft impetus to ensure their platform is capable of handling the hardware requirements for this tech.
Releasing on Symbian means that sales expectation can be lowered. If this was released on Windows Phone, expectation of sales would be higher. This gives Nokia a leeway for sale figures, allows the to gauge initial demand with lower risk than delaying, potentially 1 year, and then announcing it to an unknown market situation for Windows Phone. I would expect Nokia would use sales of the N8 as a benchmark for sales of this device.
The fact that it was released on a symbian phone is irrelevant. The technology is not binded to Symbian only, it is Nokia IP and means whatever platform they develop on, potentially has this technology differentiator. It has now become the de-facto comparison that smartphone cameras have to aspire to and ensures Nokia remain relevant, so strategically, it was absolutely the right thing to do. The cons are minor (negative press about it being released on Symbian, the 41MP headline vs the technology implementation) when compared to the longtail benefits.
Image from http://conversations.nokia.com