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By 20 September 2013 | Categories: news

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With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Nokia’s Devices & services, we thought it a good a time as any to sit down with Shaun Durandt, Nokia SA’s newly appointed GM, to discuss upcoming changes and the impact of Windows Phone devices on the local market.

TechSmart (TS): Microsoft is acquiring Nokia’s Devices & Services business, including the Lumia smartphone and Asha feature phone brands. What does this mean for local Nokia fans going forward?

Shaun Durandt (SD): Firstly, it is important to note that the proposed deal for Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s Devices and Services business won’t be concluded until early next year. Our focus for the next six months is firmly business as usual. We have a number of new devices, support elements and apps in the pipeline and execution on this will continue.

Secondly, the teams who design, produce and support Nokia phones would transfer to Microsoft. All of this said, Nokia will continue to produce great devices, apps and software updates as a result.

TS:  Will the Lumia brand incorporate additional form factors in future the likes of tablets and phablets?

SD: A core benefit of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are that people are able to share experiences across multiple screens, like Office, SkyDrive and Nokia Music+. In terms of new Lumia products, we don’t have anything to share at the moment.

TS:  Google Play offers more than 800 000 applications whilst Apple’s App Store houses more than 900 000. Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store clocks above 160 000. To what extent is this app gap impacting Lumia sales?

SD: It is clear that the number of apps is no longer the defining factor, it is more about ensuring that you have the apps most relevant to peoples’ needs. Working closely with Microsoft, we are closing that gap very quickly. If one looks at the US for example, we have 48 of the top 50 apps for the two platforms that you mention, and we are working to make sure that is true of markets like South Africa as well.

TS:  The Nokia Lumia 520 (review) is doing well locally and within other developing markets such as China and India. Will we see Lumia smartphones priced below R1 500 in future to compete with entry-level Android phones?

SD: The Nokia Lumia 520 has been an enormous success for us and we are delighted that consumers are taking to it as strongly as they have in South Africa. It’s extremely important to stress though that the momentum doesn’t stop with the 520 and we are seeing a tremendous response to devices across our Lumia range, this includes the massively anticipated Lumia 625 and Lumia 925. Regarding future devices, we will have to wait and see on that front.

TS:  Do you think the latest Lumia range is at a marketing disadvantage compared to similarly priced Android rivals, which offer flashier spec levels such as quad-core processors and full HD displays?

SD: Something that is resonating with consumers and that they are making very clear is that this is not just about the ‘larger numbers’ and ‘speeds and feeds’ tech jargon, it is more about real world benefits. If one looks at Lumia in particular, and the close collaboration with partners like Qualcomm on processors and Microsoft on platform, you will see that we are getting superior performance on our devices without compromising battery life. This is why the Lumia 520 is such a compelling proposition.

In the high end, the press have been very vocal that the Lumia 925 offers one of the best screens ever seen on a smartphone, with real world consumer benefits like best outdoor visibility and super sensitive touch.

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