Nokia launches Asha, Windows Phone Lumia
With all the fighting and hype that's generated between Apple and Samsung over their smartphones one would be wise not to forget Nokia. Speaking at Nokia world in London, the CEO of the company unveiled two new major developments in their smart phone range, as well as a multitude of services and accessories, sure to keep the most avid early adopter pleased.
Nokia has launched the Lumia 800, the flagship Windows Mobile smartphone it hopes will revive its fortunes in the mobile market.
The device, which was unveiled at Nokia World alongside its little brother - the Lumia 710, is available in magenta, black and cyan and has been designed based closely on the company's N9 device, which it greatly resembles.
Nokia is describing the Lumia devices as "stylish and smart" and both devices include support for Nokia Maps, and a range of co-branded accessories with Monster.
A welcome addition to the Nokia family will be the companies first Windows based smartphones in the Lumia family range. Both will feature Nokia Drive, a personal navigation device as well as Nokia music with built in gigfinder, a global music streaming app with a live music finder for on the go use. Nokia have also teamed up with Monster who have co-designed and co-developed the on/in ear purity earpieces accompanying the smartphones.
"There is a harmony to the device", said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who announced the device at the show calling it "the first real Windows Phone". Nokia's Kevin Shields went on to showcase more of the Lumia 800 calling it as "a beauty on the outside, beast on the inside".
There has also been more of an emphasis placed on navigation and location based tools with the introduction of Nokia Pulse and Nokia Live view, which can add locations to conversations and act as a reality augmenting tool respectively.
Nokia Lumia 800 and 710
Both will feature a 3.7" screen perfect for watching movies, viewing pictures, emails and anything you require on the go. In terms of the processor, anyone considering the 710 will be pleased to hear Nokia has used the same 1.4GHz processor as the 800 model. While the 800 is packed with 16Gb of internal memory the 700 doesn't come in far behind boasting 8Gb for music and entertainment. Both phones feature the Windows mango OS while the 800 series will feature an 8MP instant share camera and the 700 a 5MP camera both based on top end Carl Zeiss optics.
With the Asha family of smartphones, Nokia aims to bring to market high quality devices that focus on todays fast paced society, providing easy access to social networks, internet and information. Asha, which is derived from the Hindi word for hope, signifies Nokias commitment to providing positive user experiences, helping them aspire towards their dreams. With the Asha family, the goal is to bring to users a perfect blend of smartphone and feature phone or the best of two worlds.
Nokia will release four versions to begin within the Asha family, with the 200 series being a perfect starter phone for younger users. The 303 and 301 models, although both featuring a 1GHz processor, differ in keyboard layout (the 303 offers a QWERTY style), memory and camera quality, and while the 303 has a slightly larger screen the cheaper 300 actually has a better 5MP camera and slightly more internal memory (although insignificant).
Aimed at a younger audience the 200 and 201 are almost identical, with the only difference being the 200 has dual-sim function with a hot swap feature whilst the other model is a single sim. Despite being simplistic in design, which is perfect for young users, the phones are jam packed with features, such as high speed internet ability, a high powered speaker for those bass packed tunes and most impressively a battery that can handle 52 hours of music playback.
To market the phones, Nokia plans to put the devices in the hands of more salespeople and professionals "than we ever have in our history," Elop said. In addition, 31 operators and retailers have committed to significant levels of exposure for the phone, displaying it as their "hero smartphone," he said.
Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, who characterized both Lumia phones as "very impressive," thinks Nokia made the right call in not rushing the phones into the U.S. market, where it has only a small smartphone share.
Nokia could "use this as an opportunity to play their core market strength, learn from that, learn what happens with competitor devices that launch with Windows Phone 7.5 in the U.S., and then make a strong entry going forward," he said.
Nokia needs to make a splash with its Windows Phones, since it has committed to using the operating system predominantly as its smartphone platform. Formerly the world's largest smartphone maker, Nokia is looking to stop loss of market share to Samsung and Apple.
Microsoft, meanwhile, which has had a hard time gaining traction in the smartphone market with its operating system, is looking to Nokia's worldwide reach to help it clamber up from behind.
By first launching in other countries, Nokia will avoid the holiday season in the U.S., where competition is expected to be heavy with the likes of the iPhone 4S and phones featuring the latest Android 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system.
"Nokia has a very good opportunity to make that first impression and kind of reacquaint itself with the U.S. consumer," Gartenberg says. "But it has to be very, very careful how it does so. I think they're wise to hold off till 2012."