Surface versus Lumia

There has always been this weird uneasiness when its come to he relationship between Nokia and Microsoft. Maybe unease is the wrong word, its been a kind of tug of war. This has been especially the case for fans of both companies.

When Nokia adopted Windows Phone a few years ago it brought with it not just hardware and software but its cadre of admirers. Online these new Windows Phone users would clash occasionally with the Windows Phone users who were coming from the Microsoft side of the fence. Mostly it was over who did more for Windows Phone or who was moving the platform forward.

Now I bring this up because yesterday professional tech leaker @evleaks posted information about changes in the naming and branding of Microsoft hardware. Now I’m not as concerned about Microsoft extending the use if the Nokia brand, even though the idea of using the phrase, “Nokia by Microsoft”, seems absurd. The real news is about the Lumia and Surface. According to Ev, Microsoft will discontinue the Surface brand and opt to use the name Lumia for all its consumer offerings. This would be an interesting development given the release of the Surface Pro 3. I should add this rumor has some legs given a recent mention by about branding changes reported by WP Central’s Mark Guim and Sam Sabri.

Now how well you receive this will depend on how you sit on Nokia/Microsoft spectrum. I know a lot of Nokia fans think this is perfectly reasonable given the brand recognition of Nokia and thus Lumia. A few have said Lumia is simply more recognizable and is in more markets. Now I can’t refute this as I am in the US, but I wanted to point a few things out.

As a name the Lumia is synonymous to most watchers of mobile. For Windows Phone fans its THE phone if you’re on this platform. I think for everyone else it is a Nokia phone. Case in point my sister asked me about my 520 but she called it a Nokia and later a Lumia. I think the Lumia name has grown but that it is a weak brand. It’s simply not on the back of the phone. People may argue that Lumia is a better brand but exists in name only.

My second issue is that Lumia doesn’t fit what the Surface sells. The Surface as I see it is built around computing from the tablet on up to notebooks. It’s this modern looking device made of magnesium and glass that stands out from the black slabs and clamshells that make up the PC landscape. Lumias by contrast are pure mobile, pure color, and authentically (high quality) plastic. The Lumia line also isn’t simple. Surface is built on two devices (yes I know its for but the current line up is two) and the Lumia is built on at least seven or eight. Also as Paul Thurrott points out the name Surface is simple and describes what it is perfectly. It also translates well (how quickly people forget the Lumia lost in translation story).

And the last point brings me to this, I think if Microsoft is listening, that what they need to do is keep both names. I like the name Lumia but its not plastered on the back of anything yet. The Surface I think is solidly becoming a brand in its own right (and I might add is old IP for Redmond). I think dividing the hardware between Surface and Lumia keeps it simple for users and for Microsoft.


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