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Big update also planned for the Lumia 800

Two of the biggest factors against Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows Phone 7 operating system when it launched in late 2010 were lack of compelling packaging and lack of carrier support.

Handset makers:
Were more interested in Android.
Figured WP7 would be low volume.
Ironically, noticed that WP7 performed great on low-end hardware.

Thus they shoved the OS onboard their most ugly budget models.  Ironically, many of these handsets still performed well, although they were far behind Android and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) in the looks department.  This -- along with Microsoft not paying carriers sales commissions -- led to a general lack of interest in carriers pitching WP7 handsets.

I. Nokia and AT&T Are Windows Phone's Dynamic Duo

Well, all of that is starting to change, thanks to Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) and AT&T Inc. (T).

Nokia offered the first piece of the puzzle -- attractive packaged phones.  Nokia wowed with sleek handsets like the 4.3-inch display LTE-enabled Lumia 900; its "little brother", the 3.7-inch HSPA+ Lumia 800; and the upcoming Nokia Lumia 808 PureView, which featured a 41 megapixel camera, and potentially will get LTE treatment.

The Nokia Lumia 900. [Image Source: Nokia]

The next trick was finding a carrier to pitch the phone to customers -- a vital step, given the general public apathy with regards to high technology.  As Apple has demonstrated, a strong pitch can win over the masses.

AT&T long considered itself the "premium" WP7 vendor, yet its new efforts eclipse anything it has previously done -- or which any U.S. carrier has done, thus far, with Windows Phone.

Jeff Bradley, AT&T device chief says that the April 8 launch of the Lumia 900 will be a bigger launch than the exclusive 2007 Apple iPhone debut (or any iPhone debut for that matter).  In a CNET interview, he states, "At all levels, this is a notch above anything we've ever done.  Before you walk in to the store, you know this is our hero phone.  We're going big.  We're really bullish."

iPhone 2007
AT&T says that the Nokia Lumia 900 launch will be bigger than any iPhone launch to date.
[Image Source:]

Nokia and AT&T are being careful not to overhype too early, as has been the case with some Android devices that were hyped months before then sold poorly.  Instead, they plan to unleash a flood of advertising almost consecutively with the launch.

Recall that even Sprint Nextel Corp.'s (S) -- a distant third in subscribers -- was able to give Android a big 2010 boost with its resounding 4G-backed commitment to the platform.  When it's AT&T -- America's second largest carrier, Windows Phone may just have found its hero.  Or perhaps given that AT&T is looking for the next great thing, with the end of iPhone exclusivity, perhaps the situation is the other way around -- AT&T has found an unexpected hero.

II. Truly Modern

AT&T could pick a worse superphone to stake its reputation on.  

While Apple and Google are still stuck with 90s-era Chiclet icons, Microsoft's bleeding edge UI has been delighting the small crowd of early adopters with its rich modern tile-based UI.  Windows Phone screams of a smartphone OS that isn't trying to be on the defining edge of modern -- it is the defining edge of modern.  The only thing it is missing has been sales and handsets.

In recent months Windows Phone's Marketplace has soared in apps:
Aug. 2011: 30,000 apps [source]
Dec. 2011: 50,000 apps [source]
Mar. 2012: 70,000 apps [source]

Windows Phone Marketplace

At this pace, it's on track to cross the 100,000 app mark by sometime mid-year.  That places it in a lofty crowd that its current and former rivals like Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) and Hewlett Packard Comp. (HPQ) have struggled to reach.  Recall that in mid-2009, Apple still only had 65,000 apps a year after the launch of the App Store.

With Apple and Android both reaching the saturation point, Microsoft is seeing soaring developer interest.  And that ultimately means that most of the most beloved apps of Android and iOS are on Windows Phone.

At this point the only thing holding Microsoft back is the learning curve, but given that Microsoft's core apps are quite intuitive, it seems like customers could be talked into taking the plunge.  A sub-$100 Lumia 900 could sweeten the deal substantially.

III. Nokia Lumia 800 Gets a Boost

While the Lumia 900 may be getting the bear's share of AT&T's hype -- and marketing dollars -- it's also important AT&T puts forth a well-rounded lineup.  To that end, the Lumia 800 is receiving a major update.

While it's not official yet, write-ups have indicated the Lumia 800 is compatible with AT&T's network and may be headed to it later this spring/summer.

Lumia 800 and 710

The Nokia Lumia 800 (left) and 710 (right). [Image Source: Nokia]

The new Lumia 800 software -- V1600.2487.8107.12070 -- is being moved forward from April 18 to starting this week.  The four-week global rollout marks Nokia's third major update to the Lumia 800, which launched in November globally.

Nokia offers the humorous analogy that the update is like shepherding, writing:

The real-life analogy that I can think about to describe this is herding sheep through a gate. For a Windows Phone partner, developing a smartphone is like that: there’s always a balance to be struck between what you can do and what you’d like to do, between what you can offer now and later. But due to the urgent need to get this update in the hands of people, we were able to bring the schedule forward, although not all at the same time.

The update focuses on battery life and is supposed to bring total battery life up to around 25 to 30 hours on the stock 1450 mAh battery.

Again no U.S. carrier has officially launched the Lumia 800 -- yet.  But both AT&T and America's top carrier Verizon Wireless (a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc.'s (LON:VOD)) reportedly are moving towards deploying LTE-enabled variants.  Together, the two giants account for around three quarters of the U.S. market in terms of subscribers.

For now AT&T is the clear leader of the Windows Phone charge.

But as happened with Sprint's Android pickup and AT&T's iPhone pickup, don't be surprised if Verizon Wireless jumps on the Windows Phone bandwagon in a big way this year or next.

Suddenly Windows Phone has gone pencil pushing shy nerd to the cool new kid in town.  It's hard to say exactly how far it will rise, but it's safe to say that the Lumia 900 launch will be the first of its kind for Windows Phone.

Looks like Microsoft finally made a smart investment in the phone space.

Sources: CNET, Nokia

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RE: Specs
By TakinYourPoints on 3/30/2012 5:43:41 AM , Rating: 2
The OS is important to consider. Android is a pig in comparison to iOS and WP7. It is why iOS or WP7 are significantly smoother and snappier than Android running on faster hardware.

WP7 will run like butter on this.

RE: Specs
By Reclaimer77 on 3/30/2012 12:49:11 PM , Rating: 1
You keep stating this opinion as if it's absolute fact. In an effort to find if my user experience with my Galaxy SII was unique, and everyone else was plodding through a slow and "piggish" OS, I hit the review sites. GOOD unbiased ones like Anandtech.

Can you actually, for once, back up your claims about how the latest build of Android on the latest phones is a "pig"? Because I can't find any proof to back your bias.

I'm tired of you stating obsolete opinions about Android. OLD Android phones were less snappy because they couldn't do GPU acceleration for everything. That hasn't been the case in years now.

I think it's time to familiarize yourself with Android of TODAY, not years ago. This is a good starting place.

Notice this review is actually from 2011. ICS is noticeable smoother and "snappier" than their version of Android. You can't have an OS that's a "pig" and get benchmarks like that Takin. End of story.

You find me a professional review site like Anandtech stating that Android is a pig and the user experience was poor, and I'll shut up. But I use it every day on my phone and tablet. I think if it was a "pig" and not snappy, I would know it, and not be happy about it.

I get that you support Windows Phone and Apple, and that's fine, but when you need to repeat lies and spin falsehoods to do that, I draw the line.

RE: Specs
By NellyFromMA on 3/30/2012 1:25:29 PM , Rating: 2
My personal opinion of Android from having an Incredible for about 2 years is that it's terrible.

Mind you, I like technology. Love it even. I was excited to first get my phone. After a couple of months, utter slowness.

If the SQLLite db gets too full of txt messages, getting a new one in is a nightmare; a truly jarring experience.

I have used this phone on 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3.

Imporovements for sure, but subtle at best.

The phone itself was well reviews (also, when new). It's a fact that Android phones when clean run decently, even well.

But not long after that it suffers noticably.

Just my opinion.

RE: Specs
By Reclaimer77 on 3/30/2012 1:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
HTC killed the Incredible, not Android. See here: (Or skip to "perplexing performance" to see whatever HTC did to this phone)

But again, that phone is going on three years old. I don't care about ancient history, when Takin makes a blanket statement that Android today is a "pig", I want proof. Not a history lesson.

RE: Specs
By TakinYourPoints on 3/30/2012 4:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm tired of you stating obsolete opinions about Android. OLD Android phones were less snappy because they couldn't do GPU acceleration for everything.

Because it's one that makes them look bad. Duh :)

Ah, using Reclaimer style arguments against Reclaimer, so good...

RE: Specs
By TakinYourPoints on 3/30/2012 5:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
Ugh, I can't leave it at a stupid post like that, guess I can't go full Reclaimer.

ICS is obviously a huge improvement and much needed improvement in performance. The thing is that browser benchmarks in current ICS handsets bring it up to around where iOS performs with older and slower clocked hardware. Again, a much needed improvement and good on them for doing it, but again it seems to thrive on more horsepower than what iOS and WP7 require to do the same thing.

Another thing is that you say to disregard "Android from years ago". Months or weeks ago is more like it. Hell, there are still Android handsets being sold that do not support ICS, and there are recent Android handsets that won't be getting it. To say that Android being slow is ancient history is incorrect. In the mean time there are WP7 and iOS handsets from three years ago that will run the newest OS just fine, and again very smoothly.

I can't emphasize how butter smooth WP7 is on "slow outdated" hardware. To go back to the root post, yes, WP7 on a single core SoC should run beautifully.

RE: Specs
By Reclaimer77 on 3/30/2012 5:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
Apple's to oranges. Apple doesn't make slower low range phones to see how iOS would perform on it. Hell Apple doesn't even make MIDRANGE phones. They make ONE phone at a time, with the highest performing hardware that can typically be crammed into one.

Again, a much needed improvement and good on them for doing it, but again it seems to thrive on more horsepower than what iOS and WP7 require to do the same thing.

And, AGAIN, I'm asking you to post a link proving this. Opinion time is over.

Months or weeks ago is more like it. Hell, there are still Android handsets being sold that do not support ICS, and there are recent Android handsets that won't be getting it. To say that Android being slow is ancient history is incorrect.

I don't have ICS on my phone yet, but that doesn't make it "slow". It's not slow. Every Android phone out there wont be getting ICS, we know, why do you keep harping on that? It's not the end of the world. Google is NOT Apple, they aren't focused on ONE phone model exclusively. Obviously you can do things with that approach more cohesively. However attempting to judge Android as garbage simply because they're at a transition stage into ICS is rubbish and you know it.

I can't emphasize how butter smooth WP7 is on "slow outdated" hardware.

Who cares?

1. Nobody is buying Windows phone. NOBODY. Even RIM has more market share and they're collapsing.

2. Top end phones are driving this market.

You make some good points, and I'm not saying Android is perfect, but this whole "Android is terrible" garbage by you is just biased trolling. Android is the only mobile solution even coming close to competing with iOS, that should clue you in that it's not garbage.

Find some benchmarks or some reviewer calling Android a "pig", and I'll shut up. Until then you come off like the typical Apple/WP7 fanboi. Anti-Android, anti-open source.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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