How many of us know someone living in the U.S. who actually has a Nokia?! Nevertheless, that trend could change in coming days, if Nokia and Microsoft have their way.
Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia have taken the first step to try and win back lost market share in the U.S., following the launch of the Lumia 900 - a 4G LTE smartphone specifically tailored to the U.S. audience and to be carried on AT&T's network.
In the past, Nokia has been reluctant to make carrier-specific devices; a business standard in the U.S. This meant they lost market share to Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones from Samsung, Motorola and HTC.
Nokia's Lumia 900 is an LTE, Windows super-phone optimized for AT&T's network. In addition to the LTE technology, the Lumia 900 has all the hallmarks of its rival super-phones, including Microsoft's new Metro interface, a 4.3-inch AMOLED VGA display, a 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and an 8 megapixel camera with a wide-angle Carl Zeiss lens (equivalent to 28mm in a 35mm camera), all wrapped in a light and strong polycarbonate case. In addition, the smartphone runs on the latest version of the Windows Phone Operating System - Mango (Windows Phone 7.5).
Nokia is going to be back in the U.S. in a very big way, said Ralph de la Vega, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets said of the new phone at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). However, he would not give details on availability or pricing.
The CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, did have a few more words, though. He added the pricing would be very competitive and addressed critics who said the original Lumia models, launched in Europe last fall, were overpriced.
As relates to pricing, our intention is to enter the U.S. market with the Lumia 900 aggressively, said Elop. Pricing will be a key factor in attracting the attention of the U.S.'s Android-focused users.
AT&T has sold more Windows Phones than anybody, but we have a lot of room to go in terms of selling Windows Phones, Microsoft Corp.'s CEO, Steve Ballmer, who also made an appearance at Nokia's event, admitted.
However, it may not be that easy for Nokia to outrun the competition. There is no dearth of 4G LTE smartphones in the market - the Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket and the Motorola Droid Razr - to name a few, will be tough acts to beat. Moreover, Apple is rumored to be launching its 4G LTE iPhone 5 in the fall of 2012. So, Nokia has to push really hard to make its devices appealing to smartphone buyers.
Meanwhile, Nokia's biggest disadvantage is its lack of WP7 apps, the number of which comes to about 40,000. In comparison, there are 500,000-plus apps for the iOS and about 350,000 apps for Android.
Yes, Windows 7 does not have applications like Apple or Android. To overcome some of this, Nokia has optimized the device for AT&T's network, ESPN, CNN and Xbox LIVE. If AT&T and Nokia can come to sufficiently consumer friendly pricing, and that is a big if, the Lumia 900 could be the first meaningful step toward a US recovery for Nokia, Janco Partners analyst Gerard Hallaren wrote in a note to clients.
However, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White thinks differently.
We believe it will be difficult for Nokia to make meaningful progress in the U.S. smartphone market, especially with the momentum behind the AppleiPhone and Google Android ecosystems, White said in a note to clients.
Only time will tell what future has in store for the partnership of Nokia and Microsoft.