Nokia's Elop calls Lumia 920 and 820 an 'important step'

Nokia unveiled two new Lumia smartphones in what CEO Stephen Elop said was an important step for the struggling company. The company is hoping that this launch of the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 and 820 will reinvigorate sales and stop Nokia from falling any further behind its rivals.

Nokia's Stephen Elop and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer show off Nokia's new phones. Click here for complete coverage

"Today is a very important step, and there are more important steps ahead," Elop told Bloomberg. "There's no single turning point. We need to succeed with this and take it to the next step."

However, Nokia executives admit that these latest Lumia phones could represent a last chance for the company, having switched from Symbian platform last year in favour of Microsoft's Windows Phone as its primary smartphone operating system.

"It is very important. The first [range] was just a preliminary. This one has to succeed," an unnamed senior Nokia executive told the Financial Times.

The 920 sports a dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processor, and a 4.5-inch Pure Motion HD+ display, which Nokia says is its best screen. The gadget has 32 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. The 920 also has an 8.7-megapixel camera with Nokia's "PureView" camera technology and the unibody design of the 900. The PureView technology, which Nokia introduced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, captures between five and 10 times more light and clearer images than other phone cameras, Nokia said, and then can be used to either zoom in on all of those pixels or increase image quality through interpolation.

The 820 has a 4.3-inch display, a dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 8 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera. Both smartphones will be available in pentaband LTE and HSPA+ variants, and have been equipped to support wireless charging. Theya re expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter.

"The most important thing is to get the consumer to experience the Lumia," Elop said. "We have capabilities to differentiate ourselves."

Of note, Elop declined to detail pricing or what option might be open to operators, only confirming that Nokia would look to build sales volumes via selected partners and markets rather than pushing across all channels internationally, according to the Financial Times.

The move by Nokia to unveil these new smartphones in the United States is "extremely significant," given its struggle to make an impact in the country, said Tony Cripps, a devices and platform analyst with Ovum.

"But this is also a notable launch for Microsoft, which needs to pull out all the stops to guarantee greater awareness and demand for Windows Phone 8 devices, among consumers, business users and carriers," added Cripps.

Ovum maintains that Windows Phone is not yet performing to expectations, partially due to the opposition, but "also as a deliberate move by Microsoft and its hardware partners to avoid flooding the market too quickly with the platform before they are in a position to play up its synergies with other Microsoft products, especially Windows 8 for PCs and tablets, and its business applications."

For Nokia, improving the imaging capabilities of its smartphones is a reasonable strategy when meaningful differentiation between different makes of smartphone can be hard to identify, Ovum said.

"With a few new stand-out features in the Lumia 920, such as the impressive screen, PureView, optical image stabilization and wireless charging, added to a host of peripherals and Nokia's new class of navigation and mapping services, the device is undoubtedly a desirable, impressive piece of kit," said David McQueen, an analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. "However, it is the ability to translate this message at the point of sale and prove its value proposition to the consumer that will determine the success of Nokia's WP devices and help grow the platform."

Separately, Nokia said it has sold seven million Lumia devices so far, with four million being sold in the company's second quarter. However, it sold only 600,000 devices in North America in the second quarter.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see this TechCrunch article

Special Report: Nokia's Sept. 5 Windows Phone event: Complete coverage

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