Nokia is revealing its first smartphones to run the next version of Windows, doubling down on its bet that an alliance with Microsoft can pull the company out of a deep sales swoon.
The world's largest software maker and the Finnish company that once dominated the cellphone market showcased the device in New York on Wednesday, and planned to demonstrate it for industry insiders in Helsinki as well.
Nokia’s new flagship phone is the Lumia 920, which comes with a “PureView” camera. It says its lenses shift to compensate for shaky hands, resulting in sharper images in low light and smoother video capture.
Nokia hopes 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 on Wednesday, Amazon.com Inc will unwrap new Kindle Fire tablets on Thursday, and Apple is expected to unveil the latest version of its seminal iPhone on September 12.
Samsung Electronics says it will sell its own Windows phone as early as next month.
But analysts were initially less than impressed with the Lumia. "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." Leaked pictures of the two models show a similar look to Nokia’s previous Windows phones, but analysts say these alone will not be enough to turn the corner. “There have to be more devices, and their features have to stand out more. There has to be a ‘wow’ device,” said Hannu Rauhala, an analyst at Pohjola Bank, who cut his recommendation on Nokia's shares to "reduce" on Tuesday.
Nokia's shares fell 8 per cent shortly after the New York launch commenced and details began emerging, to 1.97 euro. The Finnish handset maker has logged more than 3 billion euro ($3.8 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.
For Microsoft, however, successful Lumia sales could convince more handset makers and carriers to support its Windows Phone 8 software, which promises faster performance and a customizable start screen. The price and availability date of the new phones weren’t immediately available.
Wireless charging has shown up in other phones, most notably the Palm Pre of 2009. But Nokia is making its phone compatible with an emerging standard for wireless charging, called Qi. That means the phone can be charged by third-party devices.