Nokia to add CDMA smartphones to Windows Phone mix

LONDON--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will make more smartphones using CDMA technology as it transitions to using Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform for its devices--the first of which it will unveil here Wednesday. 

Nokia has been fairly tight-lipped about its specific go-to-market strategy for Windows Phone, but some of its plans are starting to come into view. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said last week that the company will release the products in select markets this quarter. Nokia is widely expected to announce at least three new devices--code-named, as of now, the 800, Ace and Saber. The 800 is a device modeled largely on Nokia's N9, and it has appeared in videos in the past months, while previously being called SeaRay. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jo Harlow, the company's executive vice president of smart devices, said that Nokia has been focused less on feature differentiation and more on getting devices into the market. "Our focus has been on getting to market, as opposed to lots of differentiation," she said, noting that limiting futures to ensure a product launches on time is a strategy the company has picked up from Microsoft.

Harlow said that after Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft in February Nokia changed the way it organized product development, and stopped having a single product manager for each product, which slowed down development. Instead, product design, engineering, quality-management and marketing teams were given more autonomy, which Harlow said has helped reduce the time it takes to develop a new smartphone by 35 to 40 percent.

Nokia has been working closely with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA on its first Windows Phone devices, though it's unclear when the devices will launch in the U.S. or with what carriers. Historically, GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have been Nokia's strongest U.S. partners. Nokia has been developing the U.S. devices at its 600-person facility in San Diego, but is also focusing on CDMA because of the opportunity in China, where variants of CDMA technology are prevalent.

Still, it's unclear how large a commitment Nokia will make to the U.S. market. According to AdAge, Nokia is focusing the bulk of its marketing dollars elsewhere, at least for the 2011 launches. "Nokia needs to protect its foothold in Europe before it can even think about other markets," one executive familiar with the company's marketing told the publication.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this AdAge article
- see this Guardian article
- see this Daily Telegraph article

Special Report: Complete coverage of Nokia World

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