Nokia Aims to Reach U.S. Smartphone Market Ahead of Windows Phone 7
It’s kind of an awkward time for Nokia, especially stateside.
The phone maker, whose presence in the U.S. smartphone market is already small, has announced it plans to move away from its Symbian operating system in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. The company has high hopes of boosting its presence in the U.S., but its first Windows Phone devices won’t be ready until late this year, at the earliest.
And it’s at least as awkward a time for T-Mobile USA, which was already struggling as the No. 4 carrier and now has announced plans to be sold to AT&T.
So, perhaps it is only fitting that the two parties gathered in Orlando for what has to be one of the more awkward press conferences I’ve attended in a decade and a half of covering tech.
Drawing reporters to the Crave family restaurant on the outskirts of a suburban mall, the Finnish cell phone maker announced plans with T-Mobile to start selling the Astound, a rebranded version of the company’s Symbian-based C7 smartphone.
With a small stage separating the reporters from the smattering of patrons enjoying dinner, the company showed off the device, which features decent hardware including an eight-megapixel camera, along with the same Nokia store and services that few Americans have heard of.
But what it lacks in brand power, the companies hope it can make up for with value. Indeed, the Astound’s tagline is “Smart Phone. Smart Price.”
Nokia representatives said the company is aiming to reach those moving up from feature phones by offering the product inexpensively–$79, with data plans starting as low as $10 a month (a dollar less than an order of the calamari goes for on the other side of the divider.)
For those tempted by the phone, it goes on sale early next month. For those looking to catch happy hour at the Crave, it’s Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.