Nokia Hopes Services, Design Will Make Its First Windows Phones Stand Out
While the hardware that Nokia introduced in London on Wednesday was pretty much as expected, the company threw in a few services that could help distinguish it from its Windows Phone rivals.
The high-end Lumia 800 will be familiar to anyone who has seen the Meego-based Nokia N9; its entry-level Lumia 710 is designed to have a “no-nonsense” look and feel. The more surprising introductions at Nokia World came on the services side, where the company announced its Nokia Drive turn-by-turn directions service, and Mix Radio, a free, global, music streaming service.
On the hardware front, both Nokia phones feature a 1.4GHz processor, but are priced quite differently and aimed at different parts of the market. The Lumia 800 is priced at 420 Euros (before any taxes or subsidies) and includes an 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera. The Lumia 710 is priced at 270 Euros and lacks the sleek look and high-end camera.
“Eight months ago, we shared our new strategy and today we are demonstrating clear progress of this strategy in action,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said in a statement.
The company made a huge bet earlier this year when it announced it would make Microsoft’s Windows Phone the centerpiece of its smartphone strategy. It has been working to develop those phones while muddling through further market-share losses as it makes the transition. Nokia has also posted losses and earnings warnings, and has laid off staff.
With these first Windows Phones, Nokia is hoping to start a new dialogue and to see its fortunes improve. In shipping its first phones, the company did reach the goal that Stephen Elop had set out in announcing the shift.
Nokia is being selective about where it launches the products, promising both phones to only five markets before the end of the year: Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan. The high-end model will also ship in six European countries next month: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The company plans to have the products in other markets, including the U.S., early next year, with mainland China targeted for sometime in the first half of the year.
The first group of products are somewhat limited in the types of networks they support, but Nokia said it planned to introduce LTE phones as well as those that work on CDMA — the type of network used by Verizon and Sprint.
Along with the new phones and services, Nokia announced a line of headphones jointly developed with Monster, as well as a deal to work with New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to develop an NFC-based smartphone ticketing solution. The effort will be piloted on regional commuter trains before the end of the year, Nokia said. Finally, the company noted that its maps, in addition to being adopted by Microsoft, will also power Yahoo Maps, beginning with the U.S. and Canada.