Nokia opens a new window

Nokia unveiled two new sleek Microsoft Windows phones, a first step in the ailing cell phone maker’s fight.

Reuters November 06, 2011

Nokia unveiled two new sleek Microsoft Windows phones, a first step in the ailing cell phone maker’s fight back against Apple and Google. The flagship Lumia 800 and more basic Lumia 710 will go on sale in key European markets by the Christmas holiday season.

Examining the first fruits of Chief Executive Stephen Elop’s big bet on Microsoft software that spooked investors earlier this year, some analysts were impressed, but others said the pairing remains well short of finding an iPhone killer.

“It’s a new dawn for Nokia,” said Elop. He said the new phones’ minimalist design and superior navigation features would make them stand out among rival Windows phones, some of which have been faster to market with Microsoft’s new mobile platform.

The Lumia 800, with vivid colours and a curved, black display, features live icons on the home screen that automatically update news, weather or Facebook feeds. It also boasts free navigation and Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 9 browser.

It will sell for about 420 euros (Rs50780) excluding taxes and subsidies, putting it in the same bracket as Apple’s new iPhone and Samsung’s top-end Galaxy phones. The Lumia 710 will sell for about 270 euros (Rs32644).

“These devices are a good start but the reality is that they are pretty much plain vanilla Windows Phone products,” said Ben Wood, director of research at UK-based telecoms analysis firm CCS Insight. “The real fruits of Nokia’s and Microsoft’s labours will come next year... but it remains a Herculean task to recapture this lucrative market from Apple and Android.”

Others said that Microsoft’s marketing muscle and Nokia’s still-strong relationships with mobile phone operators should help push the new phones into the hands of consumers through prominence in stores and attractive package deals.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.

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