“It’s time to switch.” With these words Nokia (NOK) today unveiled its Windows 8 LTE smartphones, the Lumia 920 and the smaller Lumia 820. The launch comes less than a week before the anticipated release of Apple’s newest iPhone, and Nokia tried hard this morning to steal a bit of Apple’s thunder with a splashy New York press event in partnership with Microsoft (MSFT).
Microsoft’s marketing muscle is of course Nokia’s ace in the hole as the Finnish company struggles to regain a foothold in the mobile phone market that it dominated until recently. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will power tablets and computers as well as smartphones, and both companies are hoping this synergy will give the Lumia 920 an edge with business users. “The clear benefits to businesses from the ready integration possible across Microsoft’s products set will set a benchmark for BYOD strategies focused on out-of-box device capabilities once Microsoft’s full range of new platforms is available,” says Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum.
In addition to its alliance with Microsoft, Nokia appears to be on the right side of the patent lawsuits that are currently disrupting the smartphone market. Apple recently scored a decisive victory over Samsung in a California court, and is now pushing to ban 9 of the Korean conglomerate’s smart devices from the U.S. market. Samsung currently has 34.6% of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics, and Apple has 17.8%. Meanwhile Nokia has just 7.0%.
Those numbers are sure to change drastically this fall with the launch of a new iPhone, but Apple’s competitors are hoping to give the Cupertino juggernaut a run for its money. And they may get some assistance from wireless carriers who are tired of paying the hefty subsidies that Apple requires. The market share numbers above are based on smartphone shipments, and actual sales numbers can be quite different, especially if carriers choose to promote the products that are best for their own bottom lines.
So will a significant number of consumers and businesses make the switch to Windows as Nokia hopes they will? The company is clearly positioning the Lumia 920 as a revolutionary product, and is trying to compensate for Windows’ relatively small applications ecosystem by trumpeting the high quality of the apps that are available. This morning Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said his company hopes to replace the “grid of applications” that users of other smartphones encounter.
Another revolutionary feature of the Lumia 920 is the “Fatboy Pillow” charging block, a large portable battery which enables wireless charging of the new device. Nokia does not expect users to carry the Fatboy Pillow around with them — the company says the Lumia 920 can work hard all day without running out of battery, thanks to its 2,000 milli-amp battery. The phone is powered by Qualcomm’s 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, a dual-core chip as opposed to a quad-core. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has publicly criticized quad-core chipsets for the heavy toll they take on a phone’s battery.
So far, none of the Lumia 920 hype has done much for Nokia’s sagging stock price. This morning the stock is off more than 10%.
Follow me on Twitter.
Full disclosure: The author owns shares of Nokia.