LONDON--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CEO Stephen Elop took the wraps off the company's first smartphones running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone platform, the opening gambit in whether Nokia's bet on the new software will help revive its flagging fortunes.
Elop introduces Nokia's Windows Phones.
Elop used his keynote address here at the company's annual Nokia World conference to underscore that the first two devices, called the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, are just the opening salvo in what is expected to be a wider portfolio of devices that Nokia will introduce in 2012. Still, the pressure has been on Elop and his team to deliver a bold opening shot to try and win back momentum from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and become the "third ecosystem" in the smartphone market.
"Lumia is light," Elop declared. "It is a new dawn for Nokia." Indeed, the theme for the conference is "New now."
The Lumia 800 and 710 will be available in November in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, with support from 31 operators and retail partners. By the end of the year, both devices will be available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan. The devices will be available in more markets in 2012.
For the United States, Nokia did not announce any specific products, but Elop said a portfolio of devices will be coming in early 2012, meaning Nokia will miss the crucial holiday shopping season for the U.S. market. Elop said that Nokia will release LTE and CDMA devices for specific markets, and also said Nokia will bring Windows Phone to China in the first half of 2012. Nokia has reportedly 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.
The Lumia 800 is modeled largely on the Nokia N9, the company's first and only MeeGO-based device. The Lumia 800 runs on Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, has a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Snapdragon processor, 3.7-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, Carl Zeiss optics in its camera, HD video playback, 16GB of internal user memory and 25GB of free Microsoft SkyDrive cloud storage for storing images and music. The 800 will retail for $585 before taxes or subsidies.
The Lumia 710 is more of a mid-range device, but also has a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, has exchangeable, colorful back covers and is slightly more rounded than the 800. The 710 will retail for around $376 before taxes and subsidies.
Click here for pictures and specs of Nokia's Lumia 800 and 710.
Both of the devices have three application-centric points of differentiation from other Windows Phone devices, part of Microsoft's promise to deliver a differentiated experience via its partnership with Nokia. One is called Nokia Drive, a mapping service that provides free turn-by-turn navigation. Another is Nokia Music, an app that gives users playlists they can customize via a service called Mix Radio offering hundreds of streaming, locally relevant music channels. Additionally there is the partnership with ESPN, which created an app called ESPN Hub, providing scores, video and other in-depth sport information.
Elop also hinted that the company is working on "contextual knowledge" services, including one that provides public transportation information for 450 cities worldwide, including real-time metro and bus information for 71 cities. Elop also hinted at augmented reality services. Elop stressed how much the Nokia Windows Phone experience is integrated into the platform, in its design and functionality. "Lumia is the first real Windows Phone," he said.
Nokia and Microsoft forged their partnership in February and have been steadily building their collaboration throughout the year, culminating in today's launch. The two companies have worked together on product design, engineering and quality-management over the past few months, tightening their partnership.
Nokia also hinted at how it plans to market its devices, under the tagline "Amazing Everyday." Steven Overman, Nokia's vice president of marketing creation, said the tagline is meant to emphasize optimism and new experiences. He said in every channel where Nokia is selling its Windows Phone devices, Nokia will launch a kind of viral marketing campaign--think people dressed as Windows Phone tiles, DJ booths at bus stations--to drive interest in Windows Phone. The design of stores where the devices will be sold will reflect the mutli-colored tiles that mark Windows Phone's user interface.
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