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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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RE: Wild demand?
By Aries1470 on 5/13/2012 6:59:23 AM , Rating: 2
Hi Mitch101,
As much as I would love to agree to disagree with you, you do have a point.
I am not going to say my phone preferences since they are known, BUT, I wish I could have gotten a Futitsu IS12T Last year. Preferably the neon yellow :-)
Here is a link:
http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/25/fujitsus-is12t-wi...
buuuutttt... was not available for me to "buy" - aka get on contract - in Australia, so I went with a Moto Razr with a bunch of accessories that came with it :-)
Now, my other plan is due for November this year ( I have two, one for me and one for my better half)... just have to wait and see. At least over here, you can grandfather a plan, and get nearly all the time a "free" handset or just pay like $5-$10 per month, even if it is a flagship one :-D

That will be 6 months but who is counting :-P


RE: Wild demand?
By Mitch101 on 5/13/2012 11:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
I think with 3 real competitors its a win for consumers as all 3 have deep pockets and will all be trying to outdo one another. Consumers Win.

Me personally the Windows Phone is already every bit as good and better than the others and I really have never had to reboot my Windows Phone. Its never hung or frozen once which blows my mind. Its more stable than my Commodore 64 of yesteryear. With Microsoft's other platforms its only going to get better and more integrated than any other product can.

The only thing I'm going to change is carriers. Sprint in North Myrtle beach blows (Condo there) and its sprint because my wife has an Android Samsung Epic and her device had no signal either. Second my company is negotiating a contract with Verizon and they are going to wire the buildings for signal. Ill finally have signal in the conference rooms. I have a BB with Verizon for work and got signal in North Myrtle but not in the conference rooms until they wire the building so Verizon it will be plus Ill get a corporate discount on a service plan. :)


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