Windows Phone holds back Nokia?

That's the sentiment expressed by a commenter to an exciting promotional video Nokia uploaded to YouTube today. The Finnish handset maker shot the promo using the new Nokia 808 PureView, which sports 41-megapixel camera. The comment: "This is true Nokia innovation. Windows Phone is just holding them back". My question: Do you agree with either or both sentiments?

I'm a big Nokia fan, who relished the benefits of great camera capabilities long before iPhone even had a crappy one. I've owned E71, N79, two different N95s, N96, N97 and N900. Nokia's N Series set the standard for mobile phone photography that most rivals have yet to catch up -- and that includes the N8 and N9, which capabilities should shame every iPhone 4/4S photographer. I clamor for Nokia 808 PureView but won't buy one. Symbian holds me back, or perhaps I should say Windows Phone. Compelling as the smartphone may be, Symbian is a dead end. Windows Phone is Nokia's primary mobile OS now.

Not in This Universe

Perhaps in an alternate universe, Nokia stuck with Symbian and set out to reinvigorate the brand with 808 Purview and smartphones like it. As truly innovative design, the handset outclasses every Windows Phone Nokia sells, including flagship Lumia 900.

808 PureView key features: 4-inch AMOLED screen (Gorilla Glass); 16GB storage, expandable to 48GB with microSD card; 41MP camera with Xenon flash and f/2.4 Carl Zeiss lens; HSPA+ (up to 14Mbps), WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100, GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900; WiFi N; Bluetooth 3; GPS; Near Field Communications; FM transmitter; 1400 mAh battery; and Symbian Belle Feature Pack 1.

Lumia 900 key features: 4.3-inch AMOLED display (Gorilla Glass); 16GB storage: 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss lens and dual-LED flash; 1MP front-facing camera; 720p video capture from rear camera and VGA from front camera; GSM 850/900/1800/1900 radio; WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100 radio; 4G LTE; Bluetooth 2.1+EDR; Stereo Bluetooth; WiFi; 1830 mAh battery; and Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" Commercial Release 2.

PureView is the brand Nokia should spend tens of millions to promote, rather than Lumia 900. But Symbian is going nowhere fast, so PureView instead puts a fitting end to Nokia's smart Symbian cameraphone heritage. Of course, PureView isn't dead. The technology, and hopefully the brand, is destined for Windows Phone one day.

808 Purview joins N9 as a truly compelling smartphone few people will buy. Why should they? There are no compelling future applications or services given Symbian's death sentence. Both phones should have anchored Nokia's brand revival. Instead, resources dedicated to the Windows Phone transition hold back the kind of marketing Nokia is renown for -- well, that is outside the United States.

Proud Legacy

Americans are cheated that way. Lumia 900 commercials are poor introduction to Nokia marketing, which is unusual for high-tech companies by emphasizing benefits over features and doing so with taste and humor. Nokia also launched many, successful viral marketing campaigns before social was in vogue -- grass-roots contests, too.

The video above is one among many shot with a Nokia smartphone. The company has long promoted its phone by shooting videos with them. A favorite marketing campaign, which looks dated in the YouTube HD era: Jealous Computers, promoting N95 in 2007. Amazingly, the marketing website is still live. Quick! Get there before Nokia CEO Stephen Elop orders it dismantled!

Nokia's N95 campaign was post-PC before anyone really talked about the concept. The handset maker positioned N95 as a computer in your pocket. In the videos, shot with the cameraphone, jealous computers attack N95 owners.

Yesterday, following Nokia's dismal first quarter earnings results -- smart device sales declined 52 percent year over year -- colleague Ed Oswald and I took opposite sides. I wrote: "Nokia does the Windows Phone death dance". Ed opined: "Nokia's short-term pain is the result of long term problems".

Windows Phone is a pleasing operating system that looks and feels different from anything else available today. Now if only Nokia hardware could do for Microsoft's OS what it did for Symbian. Soon.

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