Nokia takes the wraps of the Lumia 920

nokia eventI’d almost forgotten what product launch press conferences were like in Asia, but got a nice little reminder at Nokia’s grand unveiling of the Lumia 920 and 820 in Hong Kong last Thursday.

I have less than pleasant memories of the rugby scrum at Computex that formed after master showman, Asus chairman Jonney Shih, took the wraps of the Padfone.

“Is it a laptop? Is it a phone?” he teased, unaware that the vast majority of the audience couldn’t make an informed decision because of being unable to see anything past all the sweaty fanboys standing on their chairs.

It all came flooding back at the French Window, a swanky restaurant venue in the IFC Mall, on Thursday night. To describe the scene for you: lots of people talking over Nokia’s spokesperson and the over-exuberant local media star roped in to present the devices, no-body drinking.

After some barely audible back and forth and a play around with the new Windows 8 Phones, it was time for the money shot, namely the part when three attractive, scantily clad female models come on stage to hold the devices for the cameras … at perfect boob-height.

So does Nokia have much of a chance with the Lumias? Well I gave up trying to fight may way to the demo area, but smartphone fondlers in the media regard it as one of Nokia’s best for years: great build quality, blisteringly fast processor and superb camera, if a little bulky.

Wireless charging, which was demoed at the event, will also be a bonus and, of course, it comes with Windows Phone 8.

I like Nokia, I really do, and would love the European tech giant to get back on track with this one, it’s just that with so much competition, and with so many smartphones these days offering specs which are so similar, I wonder if it will be enough, especially in the hyper competitive China market.

If you’re a Windows Phone fan, happy days, if not, you may well be minded to stick with what you know.


Asia Pacific falls! Western woes hit PC market

PCJust as the global PC market seemed to be getting back on track, Asia Pacific looks to be faltering.

Yes, IDC on Thursday released its predictions for Q2 shipments in the region and the results show a one per cent decline over 2011, with HP and Dell the biggest losers.

The irony in all this is that IDC is blaming economic turbulence in the West as a major cause for consumers and enterprises to tighten spending, thus sending shipments down.

It’s an interesting observation because it really highlights the global, interconnected nature of the economy, and by extension the IT market, today.

We know from the global meltdown of 2008 exactly what happens when the economic dominoes begin to fall in one region – eventually everyone gets sucked in to a lesser or greater extent.

Asian companies with risk exposure in the West or multinationals with offices in Asia may both have found recent economic sluggishness in the markets they operate in outside of Asia Pac has led to greater caution inside the region, which could partly explain the PC stats.

On the consumer side, meanwhile, IDC analyst Avi Sundaram told me the following:

This is more of a sentiment issue. Weakness in Western economies has affected growth in Asian countries as well, with GDP numbers going down across the region in the first half this year. This, in turn, has affected consumer confidence as well. Admittedly, it is not something specific to PCs, but given how PC buying is still a discretionary expenditure out here, consumers are pulling back on all such non-essential spending, including PCs.

So whether it’s shipments to Western countries being hit or the knock-on effect of economic woes in the West leading to lower spending inside Asia Pacific, bad news in the US and Europe may mean bad news for Asia.

It’s all one messed up, interconnected global market.

If nothing else, this should all serve as a reminder to the IT leader in the West that they need to keep an eye on what’s going on all over the planet and not just their home market to effectively manage risk, spot emerging trends, and basically do their job properly.