LAS VEGAS--According to multiple reports, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) plans to announce a new Windows Phone, the LTE-capable Lumia 900, dubbed the Ace, for AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). The phone will be released in March, according to the reports, but the pricing of the phone remains unclear (Bloomberg hints that it could go for $249 with a two-year service contract). A Nokia press conference is scheduled for later today, where the company is likely to officially announce the phone and provide details.
Nokia has generally declined to comment on the reports.
The news isn't terribly surprising--many expected such a move from Nokia, and rumors of the phone have been building for weeks--but it does help provide clarity to Nokia's plans for the critical U.S. smartphone market. Nokia introduced its first two Windows Phone devices late last year, the Lumia 800 and 710, and T-Mobile USA announced it will sell the 710 for $50 with a service contract. But, analysts generally agreed that the launch of the 710 by T-Mobile was merely an interim step by Nokia toward a more substantial launch of a flagship phone with a major carrier in the U.S. market.
The Ace fulfills two critical aspects for Nokia's U.S. strategy: It will launch with one of the nation's two main wireless carriers, AT&T. Such carrier backing is critical to Nokia, which has long struggled to gain a foothold in the U.S. market without the full-voiced support of a major carrier. Separately, that the Ace features LTE network support is important as both AT&T and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) likely will put much of their marketing and retail muscle behind devices that run on their new, faster and more efficient LTE networks.
Moreover, if the Ace does indeed support LTE, it would be a first for Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. So far Microsoft has only said that LTE will be supported in future versions of Windows Phone and is not currently supported in the platform. The situation is surprising given that a number of LTE phones currently on the market support Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform.
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