BARCELONA, Spain--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) took the next step to build momentum around its partnership with Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone operating system, announcing that it will sell the Lumia 900 in more markets as well as the new low-end Lumia 610.
At its first Mobile World Congress appearance since it started selling its Lumia-branded Windows Phones last fall, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said Nokia has "increased the clock speed" of the company and is intent on expanding the "beachheads" the company has established so far. Nokia also announced that the beta version of Skype for Windows Phone will be released now, with a full version coming in April; Microsoft acquired Skype last year.
Nokia has been steadily expanding the number of operators carrying its Lumia products, with having announced the LTE-capable Lumia 900 for AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) during the Consumer Electronics Show last month. Nokia said it will expand the Lumia 900 with LTE to Rogers Wireless in Canada in April and will bring a dual-carrier HSPA 42.2 Mbps version to other countries, though the other markets were not announced. The Lumia 900 will be available for $605 before taxes and subsidies.
Still, if the company wants to expand its presence in the market significantly, it will need to capture the lower end of the smartphone market. To that end, Nokia unveiled the Lumia 610, which uses a new version of Windows Phone software, dubbed by blogs as "Tango," which will be available in April and can support devices with 256 MB of RAM, allowing Nokia to drive the price point of the device down. Microsoft confirmed the new version of the software in a blog post. "Our engineering team did the work to optimize how Windows Phone runs on lower-cost hardware, bringing the high-end smartphone experience to more affordable devices, while still running nearly all of the applications available in the Windows Phone Marketplace,"Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone division, wrote in the post.The phone will be available for around $255 before taxes or carrier subsidies and will be available in the second quarter. Nokia also said that it will bring Lumia phones to China for both CDMA and WCDMA phones. With the new software for low-end hardware and the opening of the Chinese market, Microsoft said it has expanded its addressable Windows Phone market by 60 percent.
Microsoft stressed it has been deliberate about how it will roll out the new version of Windows Phone for lower-end hardware. "Bringing Windows Phone to these new markets and price points isn't something we've taken lightly," Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, wrote in a separate blog post. "We've been very deliberate in understanding local requirements, behavior and of course the ramifications of introducing lower cost phones to the ecosystem."
Nokia also announced several new services for its Windows Phone devices. The new services include Nokia Reading, which provides a single, integrated hub experience for news, ebooks and audio books, including the ability to access content offline and pin dynamic content to the devices' start screen as a Live Tile. The service has an emphasis on local language materials wherever it becomes available, delivering a highly personalized and locally relevant service. It will be available for download in April. Another service, which Nokia first alluded to at Nokia World in October, is Nokia Transport, which provides convenient door-to-door, underground, tram, suburban train, and bus directions for over 500 cities across 46 countries. The service will be available in March. Finally, Nokia made an update to its Nokia Drive service, the free voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation app. The update will also be available in March.
Nokia also announced its new Nokia 808 Pure View, a Symbian Belle device with a 41-megapixel sensor camera with Carl Zeiss Optics. The device can capture seven pixels of information and merges it into one "perfect" pixel. Jo Harlow, the head of Nokia's smart devices unit, said that the technology will come to other devices later, including perhaps to Windows Phone. The 808 will be available in May for $605 before taxes and subsidies.
Nokia also announced three new phones for its Asha line, aimed primarily at emerging markets. The company announced the touchscreen Asha 202 and 203, with the 202 being a dual-SIM device and 203 a single-SIM product. The products feature Nokia's "Life tools" aimed at providing services like English tools and the ability to contact a doctor 24 hours a day. Nokia's Mary McDowell, the head of its mobile phone business, said the 202 and 203 will be available for around $80 at retail in the next six weeks. The Asha 302 is a Qwerty device aimed at young consumers, entrepreneurs and social media users, and will have Microsoft Exchange email support, a first for the Asha line. The Asha 302 will retail for around $128 and is available now.
- see this Nokia release
- see Nokia Lumia release
- see Nokia 808 release
- see this Nokia Asha release
- see this Microsoft blog post
- see this separate Microsoft blog post
- see this The Verge article
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Article updated Feb. 27 with additional information.
Correction, Feb. 29, 2012: This article originally stated that a beta version of Skype for Windows Phone will be released in April. The beta has been released and a full version will be released in April.