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Hot Lumia 900 phone may receive WP8 update, after all; Nokia's WP7.5 PureView 808 41 megapixel coming to U.S.

After a brutal year which saw investor faith in its board and executive leadership waivering, Finnish phonemaker Nokia Oyj (OMX:NOK1V) finally has some good news to report.  The company has at last wrapped its head around the U.S. carrier model, and is showing strong early gains for its troubles.

I. Tasting Success -- Nokia Sees Wild Lumia 900 Demand

The U.S. is the world's second largest smartphone market behind only China, but the U.S. remains the world's largest phone market in revenue.  Unlike some foreign markets where customers tend to seek out product on their own and buy unlocked handsets, most U.S. customers come in to the phone store not knowing much about the products (other than what little they've seen in television ads).  Thus it's up to the carriers to tell them what products they might want.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), maker of the Windows Phone 7 smartphone operating system which Nokia uses, suffered badly from this scheme.  Due in part to lacking outreach to carriers, most carriers who had Windows Phones made no effort to sell them, versus the Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhones and Android flagship phones which they trumpeted to customers.

Of course, part of the problem might have been that they did not have a Windows Phone worth selling.  Most hardware makers like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) relegated more demure designs to Windows Phone, while saving their most eye-catching products for Android.

But Nokia changed that, when it launched the eye-catching Lumia 900.  Thanks to a strong commitment from America's second largest carrier, AT&T, Inc. (T), customers began to hear about a "new" operating system -- Windows Phone.

Lumia 900 in Hand (3/6)
Nokia can't keep up with cyan Lumia 900 demand. [©: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]
 
Nokia U.S. President Chris Weber confirms in a PC Magazine interview, that sales of the Lumia 900 are so strong that Nokia is facing something it hasn't faced in a long time globally -- or perhaps ever in the U.S. -- it can't keep up with demand.

States Mr. Weber, "Demand has been outstripping supply for the first couple of weeks, and we've been working hard to rectify that.  The demand for cyan [phones] is significantly outpacing supply. When you give people something different from a design perspective—colors, etc. —it really stands out, and consumers want that."

II. Nokia's Followup, PureView 808, Will Land Shortly in the U.S.

At last tasting success and eyeing a recovery in its post-Symbian era, Nokia isn't content to rest on that success.  Mr. Weber confirms that the Windows Phone variant of the PureView 808 will soon arrive in the U.S.  He comments, "We'll figure out a way to make that available in the U.S. in the next couple of months."
Nokia PureView
The Nokia PureView 808 [Image Source: Nokia; Modifications: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Mr. Weber says the early plan is to sell it unlocked to customers.  The phone will be a HSPA+ design, compatible with AT&T's network.

If Nokia is wise, it will try to work out an arrangement with AT&T to feature the unlocked handset in AT&T stores.  

Like the cyan Lumia 900 the PureView 808 is an eye-catching design.  In a market full of bland, relatively uniform handsets, the PureView 808 is an exception to the rule.  It's slender, but at its crest, a bulbous camera module rises up from the smooth back-face.  

The camera is a 41 megapixel design, and the sensor itself is estimated to be 4-5x the size of the sensor found in the Apple iPhone 4S, one of the largest sensors in a currently available handset.

III. Verizon and Nokia Appear to be in Talks

But Nokia's fragile young sucess needs a key element to grow -- access to America's largest carrier Verizon Wireless.  Verizon -- a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD) -- has warmed to the Windows Phone ecosystem in recent months, surely taking note of AT&T's strong commitment and the distinctive new Nokia designs.

Mr. Weber states, "We're not making any announcements, but we understand the importance of Verizon and we're working hard to make that a reality."

Verizon Banner
[Image Source: Hot Cell Phones]

In other words, Nokia and Verizon are in talks -- not terribly surprising given that Verizon recently called Windows Phone a key "third ecosystem".  Verizon's adoption of Android helped propel the platform from 1 percent market share in 2009 to roughly 50 percent of U.S. phone sales last year.  Now it may give Windows Phone a similar boost.

The PureView 808 seems the most logical choice for an exclusive handset, given that it's Nokia's highest profile handset other than the Lumia 900, which can be safely assumed to be an AT&T exclusive for the time being.  Even if Nokia could slide its way out of exclusivity with AT&T, it still is barely keeping up with that carrier's sales, so a Verizon Lumia 900 seems less likely than a Verizon PureView 808.

IV. Lumia 900 May Receive Windows Phone 8 Update

Now that Nokia is starting to see Windows Phone success, it must also beware burning bridges with its new customers.  In that regard their was much alarm that the company might be denying Lumia 900 an upgrade to Windows Phone 8 or "Apollo" as it's codenamed.

In reality, this speculation may prove unfounded.

Hardware-wise there's no clear reason why the Lumia 900 or PureView 808 would be incapable of handling the new operating system.  And it's important to bear in mind that for all the rumors, Windows Phone 8 has not been officially announced by Microsoft.  The only confirmation of any kind comes from third parties like Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and Leap Wireless Internation, Inc.'s (LEAP) carrier subsidy Cricket, both of whom expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming platform.

Windows Phone 8 is -- according to these rumors or leaks -- going to land in September or October.

Microsoft and Nokia are mum on the release.  But Mr. Weber did give a comment that leaves hope that Nokia may provide an upgrade path for users.  He comments, "Both Nokia and Microsoft understand the importance for consumers to keep their devices fresh and updated. Without any announcements being made, we're working to make sure people have fresh and updated experiences on any device they may have."
 
So if the time comes and Nokia denies customers an update, perhaps then its fair to grouse.  But for now, Mr. Weber's words suggest that customers and potential buyers should follow the famous advice of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- "Don't panic."

Source: PC Magazine



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

I take offense!
By dgingerich on 5/12/2012 12:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Unlike some foreign markets where customers tend to seek out product on their own and buy unlocked handsets, most U.S. customers come in to the phone store not knowing much about the products (other than what little they've seen in television ads). Thus it's up to the carriers to tell them what products they might want.


This is offensive to me. Sure, years ago, I never researched a phone, but I was just buying a phone, not a smartphone. I didn't really care about features as long as it made calls.

My last three phones were Android smartphones, and I researched them thoroughly before I bought them. When I went into those stores, I knew what I wanted, from the phone to the data plan to the voice plan and features. They didn't have to do anything. Granted, I don't buy unlocked handsets and seek out a carrier, mostly because of many handsets being advertised as 3G or 4G, and compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, yet aren't compatible with T-Mobile's 3G or 4G networks. It's a mine field trying to buy an unlocked phone. Fortunately, since I researched things before hand, I didn't fall into that.

Granted, many US consumers are sheep that just get sold on whatever the salesman tells them. These people also tend to believe in everything the media tells them. These people aren't even a majority, though. Most people don't just follow what they're told, in the US or elsewhere. They do have their own ideas, beliefs, and wants.

That statement was insulting.




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