With the recent update to the Windows Phone platform that adds support for 6 inch screens, Nokia can now offer a phablet to consumers. ABI Research believes that this is a good thing for Nokia, who has been trying to help Microsoft establish itself as the third mobile ecosystem. Considering how difficult success in the smartphone market has become, not being able to make smartphones such as phablets only made it harder for Nokia to compete on equal footing with Android OEMs.
Nokia has wasted no time in announcing two phablet offerings, the Lumia 1520 and the Lumia 1320. It is likely that Nokia had some say into what features Microsoft should be adding to its Windows Phone Platform. While adding larger screen support is a little behind the times for a mobile OS, it appears that the close alliance between Microsoft and Nokia is finally pushing Microsoft to deliver improvements and capabilities in a time frame that allows for its OEMs (and itself since it acquired Nokia) to take advantage of the rapidly emerging phablet segment.
ABI Research's point of view is that Microsoft's compulsion to have tight control over supported hardware has created a strategic weakness against the Android ecosystem that allowed for high levels of hardware variability. This flexibility of hardware support in Android is ideal for driving a large and vibrant group of device OEMs. The tight control imposed by Microsoft may keep the experience consistent across OEMs but does little to support all comers looking to add their stamp on the Windows Phone platform.
With some of the chains removed (support for larger screens), Nokia can now address a market that is growing rapidly in the APAC region. APAC was once a place that Nokia could count on for market dominance in smartphones. However since the advent of low cost Android handsets and the difficulities in creating low cost windows phones, Nokia has struggled to remain relevant to APAC consumsers.
Since phablets tend to be premium priced smartphones with high specs, Nokia should be able to play comfortably in this space regardless of the Windows Phone imposed hardware requirements. Furthermore with APAC consumers flocking to phablets, Nokia will also be able to benefit from a rising tide of consumers hungry for larger devices. Ideally the Lumia 1320 at a price of $339 will hit a real sweet spot in the APAC region full of very price conscious consumers.