BARCELONA, Spain--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) intends to continue reducing the cost of its Lumia-branded smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software in the United States, though it's unclear whether the new Lumia 610 will be part of that strategy.
In an interview with FierceWireless here at Mobile World Congress, Chris Weber, the head of Nokia's operations in the Americas, said that getting to lower price points was a core part of the company's strategy to keep broadening its portfolio of devices. However, he did not comment on whether the Lumia 610, which runs on a version of Windows Phone geared toward lower-end phones, will come to the U.S. market. "Obviously we're looking at a wide range of price points and trying to drive price points down on the Windows Phone platform is a priority," he said.
Nokia said Monday that the Lumia 610 will be available for around $255 before taxes or carrier subsidies and will be available in the second quarter. The announcement was coupled with one from Microsoft that Windows Phone will soon be available in China. Weber said so far the feedback has been positive on the announcement. "What we see generally, and this is a broad statement from the operator customers we've met with across the globe here at Mobile [World] Congress, is very positive support," he said. "They're excited about the value that the price of the 610 brings."
And what of the Lumia 710, which T-Mobile USA launched in the U.S. market Jan. 11 for $49.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate? Weber said that Nokia is seeing "very positive momentum with T-Mobile on the 710 and great consumer buzz." He noted that customer satisfaction scores for the device are extremely high, and that it is not being brought back to retail stores, "which is so key with retail, because those devices that do come back, the retail sales reps lose faith instantly."
Nokia announced the LTE-capable Lumia 900 for AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) during the Consumer Electronics Show last month, and AT&T is expected to launch the device next month. Weber did not have an update on when Nokia services such as Nokia Music and the newly announced Transport, which provides local public transit information, might be available in the U.S. market.
Finally, Weber said Nokia is interested in providing Skype for Windows Phone on its Lumia devices, but that ultimately that decision is one that operators will have to make after consultation with Microsoft and Nokia. Microsoft announced that the beta version of Skype is available now and that a full version will be released in April.
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