Nokia's new handsets are only a first step on a long road

Much back-slapping was evident in Brussels and London as important routes forward were outlined to eager audiences in both capitals. The Brussels announcement gave some hope that Europe's sovereign debt crisis is taking the first step on a very long road to being resolved, and of almost equal magnitude, if I believe the PR hype, Nokia announced some new handsets.

While the measures agreed by the EU members will have a severe impact on those European countries with high levels of debt, the success of this financial bailout still remains in doubt. One analyst from CMC Markets, a London-based spread betting firm, questioned whether the EU funding deal had merely put off the day of reckoning for a little while longer.

And the same might be said for Nokia.

The company's launch of its first Windows Phone (WP) handsets was a bold move. The success of those devices will be key to Nokia's future, or survival, as a world-class smartphone vendor. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is confident that Nokia will regain lost ground and lead the smartphone market, adding: "These are the first phones to properly amplify the Windows Phone platform."

But two days after Elop made this prediction, the market research firm Strategy Analytics announced that Samsung had overtaken Apple as the world's biggest smartphone maker, with Nokia being pushed to third place.

Adding further hurt to Nokia's demotion, Tom Kang, a director at Strategy Analytics, said, "Nokia reached 14 per cent global smartphone share in Q3 2011, more than halving from 33 per cent in Q3 2010."

While the two WP Nokia handsets attracted praise from many, some felt the smartphones lacked that wow factor necessary to persuade consumers to discard their Apple, Samsung or HTC handsets in favour of Nokia.

The new Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 smartphones are a step in the right direction. However, I'm not convinced they are enough to breathe life back into a company that is struggling to hold its position in a marketplace that is white-hot with competitive products. --Paul