Upcoming models look to take wind out of Android's sails

Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) has survived bringing Windows Phone handsets to market and now is hoping for a turnaround.  Amid modest success, the Finnish phonemaker is downsizing its global workforce to adjust to its smaller share in the smartphone market.  But much like early adopters of Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system, Nokia hopes for big gains with Windows Phone in years to come.

Former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) executive and now Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced during a conference call to investors on Thursday that new low-end Windows Phone handsets will be key to conquering global markets.  Comments Mr. Elop, "We need to compete with Android aggressively.  The low-end price point war is an important part of that."

This topic is a bit confusing to U.S. phone buyers as mid-range handsets like Nokia Lumia 610 are typically offered for free in their market, although these subsidies come with strings attached -- you must sign a two year contract.  But in many other countries customers primarily pay for unsubsidized handsets and then benefit from smaller monthly contract fees.

Limbo bar
Nokia is testing how low it can go to battle Android. [Image Source: Frank Pettit]

In such markets, even lower priced handsets are tempting.  Android's ability to produce such budget smartphones is a big reason why it's currently enjoying a healthy global lead.

Microsoft initially maintained a very stringent minimal hardware specification for Windows Phone, making budget WinPhones out of the question.  But Nokia has been working closely with Microsoft and it appears that the operating system giant has had a change of heart about selling lower end product.

Comments Mr. Elop, "We had plans already to go lower than the 610, [we've found] ways to go even further than we anticipated.  [We also plan to] broaden the price point range that we're pursuing with Lumia."

Next week is a big week for both companies at it marks Microsoft's Windows Phone Summit, where it's likely to show off the next generation Windows Phone 8.

Windows Phone Summit
[Image Source: Microsoft via The Verge]

The new mobile OS is expected to add an integrated Skype app, multi-core processor support, four screen resolution choices for manufacturers, and tighter NFC radio support for smartphone "wallets".

Source: The Verge

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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