MWC: Software is an incremental factor influencing handset buying decisions but it doesn’t substitute “look and feel”

Some conversation topics run and run and NokiaSoft is firmly within that camp. One of the great things about Mobile World Congress is the fascinating data reeled out during presentations and briefings. But there’s something you quickly learn in the mobile industry; when times are tough, data is impossible to come by (Vodafone 360 sales figures, anyone?). But when things are going well, it’s often hard to keep up with the Matrix-style flow of numbers.

Unsurprisingly then, Android facts aren’t all that hard to come across. Thanks to Eric, we know Android now has 170 compatible devices, 350,000 daily activations and many other impressive stats to back its rise to power. Impressive stuff, of course. What’s not clear though is the inter-relationship between those different figures.

Just how many of those 170+ Android devices are selling in any material volume?

Sure, we know Motorola’s Droids have done well, Samsung has shipped a wedge of Galaxies and HTC has surfed the Android wave with its Desire like Kelly Slater himself, but there’s precious little meat to gnaw on if you love crunching numbers in more depth. We’re willing to bet that if it doesn’t follow a Pareto distribution, the chances are it’s even more concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of best-selling devices.

In large part, this is down to the fact that software-alone does not a happy handset buyer make.

“Whatever the industry may have us believe, the consumer handset buying process today is still as much about look and feel, brand and the pull created by clever (and expensive) marketing campaigns as it ever was. The introduction of fancy user interfaces and bustling app stores have just added incremental buying criteria for end-users. They’ve not substituted the previous ones.”

It’s the combination of what’s on the outside as well as what powers the inside that counts. In short, hardware can absolutely differentiate in the eyes of the consumer. Even if it were left to hardware alone, a newly-focused Nokia should have what it takes to build a differentiated experience on top of Windows Phone and that will give it a great chance to win the hearts and minds of users again.

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