10 things Microsoft should do with Nokia

Nokia Icon

In April, Microsoft concluded acquisition of Nokia's Devices and Services division, announced in September 2013. With ownership comes responsibility, which starts with Microsoft preserving and reviving an iconic brand. Before the phone maker fumbled touchscreen smartphone market, the brand dominated the world -- commanding overwhelming cellular handset market share across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Some competitors strayed from the path Microsoft follows. For example, Google wrongly sold Motorola to Lenovo, which is reason for big smiles up Redmond, Wash. way. Hardware's research and development value to software and services cannot be overstated. Apple gets it, and I thought Big G did, too. Nokia is a vitally important asset to Microsoft that goes way beyond Windows Phone.

There are many things the software giant should do with the device manufacturer. I recommend a few during the early-stage transition, offered in no particular order of importance. They all equally matter.

1. Keep Nokia brand, sideline Lumia. There is no visible Lumia brand on my Windows Phone -- just Nokia and Icon, as it should be. The company that invented the smartphone is still a global brand, which is valuable capital, should the new owner use it wisely. Additionally, too many brands cause customer confusion. Nokia and Windows Phone is best, with a sprinkle of Microsoft.

2. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Products don't sell themselves. You have to tell people about them and promote their benefits. During U.S. primetime, I sometimes see iPhone 5s "Powerful" commercials more than five times. Nokia ads? None.

3. Amp carrier co-marketing dollars. Verizon kickstarted Android back when Samsung meant little more to Apple than a mosquito. The carrier launched the Droid brand in late 2009 -- just a year after the Google OS débuted -- with a $100 million ad campaign that changed everything. Verizon has the Icon and AT&T the 1020. Microsoft should kick carrier advertising with incentives. Referring back to #2, advertise, advertise, advertise. Icon has the right brand and features, but people have to want to buy it.

4. Sell aspiration. Apple does this so well. While competitors innovate, the fruit-logo company makes modest iPhone improvements, then makes them appear to be so much greater by way of advertising. People buy things that make them feel good about themselves, for which they believe will make their lives better. Nokia phones can capture your life like none other. That's a hugely aspirational benefit that Apple and Google sell but Lumia handsets wonderfully deliver. So tell everyone.

5. Offer even more Nokia apps. Critics complain about the applications divide that separates Windows Phone from Android and iOS. But many of the best apps are homegrown. Keep them all and develop even more. I have a dozen Nokia apps on my Icon. Let's double the number and fill the gaps with a mountain. You don't need a third-party developer to create the next Instagram. The killer app can be home grown.

6. Make appropriate Nokia apps available in the Windows Store. Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, and Storyteller are ripe for tablets, and not just those made by Nokia. Let's see them and other apps easily installed on Surface and other Windows RT 8.1 devices.

7. Louden Nokia Conversations. The blogsite is a great marketing asset that engages true enthusiasts around key benefits, such as photography. Days past, before Google dominated maps, Conversations showed the world via Nokia apps for finding things and where you are. The tools remain, but they need more exposure.

8. Enliven Nokia Labs. The other great blogsite, like Conversations predating the Windows Phone platform switch, engages enthusiasts and lets them participate in app development. Thanks, Nokia. My account abandoned five years ago is still active; I signed in yesterday.

9. Imitate Moto E and G. Motorola has the right idea with quality, unlocked smartphones that offer a little less for big savings. Nokia Asha and X handsets compromise too much. Lumia 500 and 600 series models steer in the right direction but they don't reach the destination, which is the enormous number of Nokia dumb-phone users looking for better at a reasonable price.

10. Give away phones. Microsoft should work with NGOs and other local organizations to provide the world's poorest people with free smartphones. Market share matters more than immediate profits, particularly when so many people have Nokia phones already. Keep them on the brand and empower them with supporting apps and services. These interests are mutually self-serving. Nokia's brand remains vital. Users create content and connections tied to Microsoft platforms. People are empowered by devices and Internet connectivity to learn and to prosper. Real aspiration isn't marketing that convinces people their lives will be better but providing tools that really do.

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