Nokia unveils Windows 8 phones
Nokia and Microsoft took the wraps off the struggling European company's most powerful smartphone today, in what may be their last major shot at winning back a market lost to Apple, Samsung and Google.
The world's largest software maker and the Finnish company that once dominated the cellphone market showcased the device in New York today, and planned to demonstrate it for industry insiders in Helsinki as well.
Microsoft and Nokia hope the new Lumia will become a potent weapon in an escalating global mobile industry war.
Google's Motorola Mobility intends to show off its latest smartphone later today, Amazon.com Inc will unwrap new Kindle Fire tablets tomorrow, and Apple is expected to unveil the latest version of its seminal iPhone on September 12th. Samsung says it will sell its own Windows phone as early as next month.
The Lumia 920 and smaller Lumia 820 runs on the latest Windows Phone operating software, which Microsoft hopes will rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android to become a third mobile platform. If the new phones do not appeal to consumers, it could spell the end for money-losing Nokia and deal a serious blow to Microsoft in its attempts to regain its footing in the market.
The Lumia 920 - which executives billed today as the flagship Windows phone - sports "Pureview" camera technology to reduce blurring from hand motion, and wireless charging capability. It comes with augmented reality technology that lets users see details of their surroundings through the camera.
But analysts were initially less than impressed with the device. Nokia's shares fell 8 per cent shortly after the New York launch commenced and details began emerging, to €1.97.
"The Lumia 920 feels like more of an evolution of existing Lumia phones than the revolution we expected from the close collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight. The two companies "will have to spend eye-watering sums on marketing and offer the new phones at aggressively low prices”.
The stakes are high for both Nokia and Microsoft. The Finnish handset maker has logged more than €3 billion in operating losses in the past 18 months, forcing it to cut 10,000 jobs and pursue asset sales.
Its share of the global smartphone market has plunged to less than 10 per cent from 50 per cent during its heyday, before the iPhone was launched in 2007.
Windows phones have only captured 3.7 per cent of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics. Android phones have 68 per cent, while Apple has 17 per cent.
For Microsoft, successful Lumia sales could convince more handset makers and carriers to support its Windows Phone 8 software, which promises faster performance and a customisable start screen.
Last week Samsung became the first to announce a smartphone running Windows Phone 8, at the IFA trade show in Berlin. But it was not able to provide the model to visitors at the show.