Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nokia's Windows Phones: The Games Begin

Last week Nokia unveiled a pair of Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 710 and 800. They'll arrive in the United States sometime in early 2012, according to the Finnish manufacturer.

"Lumia is the first real Windows Phone," Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told the audience during a London keynote Oct. 26. "We are signaling our intent right now to be today's leaders in smartphone design and craftsmanship, no question about it."

Let the games begin.

The Lumia 800 represents the high end of Nokia's smartphone plans, and features a 1.4GHz processor, hardware acceleration and graphics processor, and an 8-megapixel camera that uses Carl Zeiss optics. Design-wise, there's a 3.7-inch active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) ClearBlack curved display integrated into a body rendered from a single piece of polycarbonate. I played with it during a Nokia presentation last week in New York City; it's pretty.

In a play toward the midmarket, Nokia is also offering the cheaper Lumia 710, also with a 1.4GHz processor, and a 5-megapixel camera. It's pretty, too.

To say that Nokia needs both these devices to succeed is something of an understatement, considering how it's abandoned its other operating systems in favor of Windows Phone. In order to sweeten the deal for consumers, Nokia has installed some exclusive apps with its phones, including Nokia Drive (with turn-by-turn navigation and voice-activated control) and Nokia Maps, which offers up points of interest around the user's location.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Microsoft wants to push Windows Phone more toward the midmarket, and the Lumia 710 seems a big step in that direction. "We are dramatically broadening the set of price points in Mango-related phones that we can reach," Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Windows Phone division, told the audience during the Asia D conference Oct. 19. "That's particularly important because going lower down in price point opens up more addressable market."

But it'll still be some months until we know whether Nokia's succeeding in its all-or-nothing effort.



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