Ina Fried

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Exclusive: Nokia CEO Stephen Elop on Why the $300 Lumia 1020 Is a Camera Phone Worth a Premium Price (Video)

Stephen Elop is happy to talk about the features of the Lumia 1020, especially its 41-megapixel camera and what that enables.

But the Nokia CEO gets even more animated when he starts showing them off, from a helicopter shot of New York’s Columbus Circle to a photo he took of a cockpit while flying in an airplane.

Having 41 megapixels to work with gives the ability to take a single photo and tell multiple stories, he said in an interview ahead of the Lumia 1020 launch on Thursday. In the cockpit photo, for example, one can see the full instrument panel and window view, or zoom in and see just the altimeter reading — both in sharp detail.

But all those megapixels add up on the cost front, too. The Lumia 1020 will cost essentially $300 on contract with AT&T. That’s a price that some high-end devices have flirted with in the past, but also puts the phone roughly $100 more than a base iPhone 5 or the latest Samsung Galaxy.

Elop said the experience of being able to leave one’s camera at home and not sacrifice quality will be something consumers will pay for. Minutes before Thursday’s event, Elop excitedly walked AllThingsD through the phone and its features — taking a break only to tweet when the event was 41 minutes away from starting.

Though past Lumia devices have struggled to win share at the high end, Elop is confident that the camera technology will make the difference this time. In addition, Elop said that the company will work to bring pieces of the Lumia 1020’s camera technology to lower-end and midrange devices in the future.

“One of our ongoing strategies is to lead with this type of at a flagship-device level, and to see elements or subsets of that filter down into the rest of our portfolio … You’ll see us take this in many different ways in the future.”

In many ways, this is the Windows Phone that industry watchers have been waiting for Nokia to make. It already had a 41-megapixel camera phone, though the PureView 808 used Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

As for the company as a whole, Elop said he is comfortable with the businesses that the company is currently in, and is confident that it can afford to be in mapping, network equipment, patent licensing as well as the smartphone and basic phone business. That’s still true even after buying out joint venture partner Siemens in its network equipment business.

“We believe we have the resources to do it,” he said.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google