Nokia (NYSE:NOK) unveiled a bevy of new devices, including its first Windows Phone Lumia products since partner Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced plans last month to acquire Nokia's hardware business for $7.2 billion. At its Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, as expected, Nokia announced its Lumia 1520 phablet device and its first tablet, the Lumia 2520, which runs Microsoft's Windows RT operating system.
Click here for details about Nokia's device announcements.
The gadget announcements—which included another large-screen Windows Phone, the Lumia 1320, as well as three new touchscreen Asha phones (the 500, 502 and 503)—come at a critical time for Nokia ahead of the holiday shopping season. Nokia will report third-quarter earnings Oct. 29, and early indications are that the company has been gaining momentum in its Windows Phone business. Nokia sold at least 8 million Lumia Windows Phone smartphones in the third quarter, up from 7.4 million in the second quarter and far more than the 2.9 million it sold in the year-ago period, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, which cited unnamed sources.
As if to underscore that momentum, Nokia announced that after years of pleading and several knock-off applications, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)-owned Instagram will finally be coming to Windows Phone in the coming weeks. The app was one of the few remaining top apps that had not been made available for the platform, an issue that some analysts have said has hindered adoption, hurting both Nokia and the larger Windows Phone ecosystem.
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), a key U.S. partner for Nokia, will be the exclusive U.S. carrier for the 1520 and will also support the LTE-enabled 2520 tablet, though other carriers will as well. (Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has been rumored to be a potential partner on the tablet).
The long-rumored Lumia 2520 tablet will sport LTE connectivity, which sets it apart from Microsoft's Surface 2 tablet, run Windows RT 8.1 and will be powered by a 2.2 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor. The gadget sports a 10.1-inch 1080p HD display, has a 6.7-megapixel camera with a f/1.9 Zeiss lens and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, as well as a host of Nokia software enhancements in addition to Microsoft Office. The tablet will support Nokia Music and its HERE global mapping service. The 2520 will be available in this quarter with an estimated price of $499 before taxes or subsidies. It will initially be available in the U.S. as well as the UK and Finland, with additional countries to follow shortly after. The tablet will be sold with an optional keyboard for $149 extra, which will provide up to five extra hours of battery life and two built-in USB ports.
Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who is now the executive vice president of Nokia's devices and services business, will return to Microsoft when its deal with Nokia is complete. In an interview with CNET, he said Nokia will bring to Microsoft "the art and science of building a great product and understanding how to do that," as well as how to manage hardware life cycles and expertise in device materials, imaging and antenna design.
As CNET notes, the tablet will put Nokia in more direct competition with partner and soon-to-be parent Microsoft. "The 2520 as a move into tablets is only a toe in the water for Nokia," said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber. "It will learn a lot from marketing and selling this product and we should not expect huge sales volume from the first attempt. While the two companies are separate, Nokia's new device sits uncomfortably next to Microsoft's Surface (launched on the same day), and is a perfect example of the integration issues they will face."
Elop said Nokia worked with Microsoft well before their deal was announced. "They're clearly interested in having different manufacturers build tablets, and they saw in this, and continue to see, a very differentiated approach," he said.
A key focus for Nokia with its tablet was adding in LTE connectivity. "When we were looking to create a tablet, one of the things we looked at was how people use tablets, and we found that 80 percent of consumers use them in the home," Ifi Majid, Nokia's head of product marketing for North America, said in an interview with AllThingsD. "We thought there was an opportunity to differentiate and change that, so we wanted to make a connected device that can also be used outside of the home."
"Windows RT is not popular and is not selling well, for good reason. It is a 'dumbed down' version of Windows which does not run all the apps Windows users expect," industry analyst Jack Gold said. "Most users have not been thrilled with the user experience. I don't expect Nokia to do well with this product for that very reason (I don't expect any Windows RT devices to do well in the market, which is why most of the vendors who offered RT devices (e.g., Asus, Lenovo, Dell) have pulled them from the market). Nevertheless, it does allow Nokia to say its expanded its product line and offer new leadership products."
However, Gold said that the 2520 and Surface 2 devices are too close together in features and price for both to stay on the market, unless Microsoft dramatically cuts the price of one or the other, and so it's "unlikely the Nokia tablet will have a long life, as its more probable Microsoft would continue its own Surface line as a priority."
The Lumia 1520 takes advantage of Windows Phone 8 Update 3, a software update for all Windows Phone 8 devices that will bring several tweaks to the platform and allow it to support new hardware, such as 1080p displays and the Snapdragon 800 processor. The 1520 sports a 6-inch, 1080p full HD display, runs on the 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800, has a 20-megapixel PureView camera with optical image stabilization, Microsoft Office, Nokia Music and 3400 mAh battery with built-in wireless charging. The 1520 will start shipping this quarter with an estimated price of $749 before taxes and subsidies in the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, China, the UK, France, Germany, Finland and other European markets, with other markets to follow.
"The Lumia 1520 is not intended to be the flagship but a flagship," Elop said of the 1520. "The large display--that's the first thing people are going to respond to. Some people will love that, but for some people--maybe with smaller hands--it might not fit. With phones like the 1020, it has a smaller screen but it's much further down the line in terms of imaging. You can see we don't really have a single flagship, but a variety of them."
The 1320 has similar if slightly lower specs, including a 6-inch 720p display, and is expected to start shipping in the first quarter for $399 before taxes and subsidies in China and Vietnam, followed by other Asian markets, India and Europe.
"The phablet category is an important segment for Nokia in order to offer a complete portfolio and address growing demand in Asian markets, particularly China," Blaber said. "The Lumia 1520 is the flagship halo device but the Lumia 1320 is the most important product launched at Nokia World. The price point is aggressive and takes the fight to Samsung."
- see this Nokia devices release
- see this Nokia apps release
- see these four separate device articles from The Verge
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this separate CNET article
- see this WPCentral article
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