Nokia's first Windows Phone 7 handset: Is it enough?


Rory Cellan-Jones looks at Nokia's new Lumia 800 smartphone

Imagine this. You're an outsider from another continent, brought in to try to pull what was Europe's leading technology business out of a death spiral.

Your first move is to tell your staff that the software on which the company's reputation was built is history and their future depends on working with what was once a deadly rival. And today you have to unveil the first fruits of that partnership.

No pressure then for Stephen Elop as he opened the Nokia World conference with a keynote which featured his company's first two Windows Phone 7 handsets.

He's the Canadian who sent that famous "burning platform" memo to staff earlier this year, shortly before unveiling a deal to use Microsoft's latest mobile operating system in place of Symbian.

This morning he proudly showed off the Nokia Lumia 800, designed to be the flagship of a fleet of smartphones combining Nokia's hardware expertise with Microsoft's likeable if little-known Windows Phone 7 software.

He extolled its design elegance - "just beautiful" - but went on to make a big claim which Microsoft's other partners might find a touch arrogant:

"Lumia is the first real Windows Phone."

Crowded space

What then will differentiate Nokia Windows phones from HTC or Samsung handsets with the same operating system? Nokia will say its hardware has always led the way, but it is also packaging the phones with services to try to make them stand out.

Nokia's mapping software will power Drive, a navigation system which users get for nothing.

Nokia boss tells me Nokia will have a 'new dawn'

They will also be able to listen to millions of tracks on their phones via Nokia Music. No, a PR executive told me, it's nothing like "Comes With Music" the firm's last ill-fated venture into this industry - that was about downloads, this is about streaming. And there will be football via an ESPN sports app.

With rather less fanfare, Nokia unveiled a second Windows Phone handset today, but this cheaper device was a signal that it wants to compete right across the fast-growing smartphone market.

But they will be entering a market now crowded with very clever phones - whether you favour Android, Apple or Blackberry, you are now spoiled for choice.

Nokia and Microsoft know they will have to work very hard to get consumers to pay attention, so prepare to be be subjected to one of the biggest single marketing campaigns the mobile industry has ever seen.

Network operators will be playing their part, keen to make sure there is more competition in the market to drive down the price of the hardware.

So Nokia has put its entire future in the hands of Microsoft...or has it? What surprised me about this morning's keynote was that Mr Elop also unveiled four devices that had nothing to do with Windows, phones aimed at the developing world.

Nokia points out that it's been selling huge numbers of these phones - a million a day - and it was only this part of the business which made its most recent financial results look halfway respectable. The message was that the next billion internet users would be connected by Nokia, and the new Asha range of almost-smart phones would help make that happen.

And there was even some news about Symbian, with a public transport service helping you get across more than 400 cities worldwide, and an augmented reality app. Symbian, it seems, is not dead, just resting.

So Mr Elop is hedging his bets. He hopes and believes that the new Windows phones will restore Nokia to its rightful position as a leader in the lucrative smartphone market.

But if a year from now it's still failing to make headway in the race with Android and Apple, expect to hear plenty more about the huge opportunities offered by the developing world.

The question is will Indian and Chinese consumers continue to want Nokia phones if they are shunned by American and European buyers?

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Despite the hype for the newer OS's, Symbian and MeeGo are good, solid platforms. If you need a business phone, at the moment the only alternatives are Nokia E7 or one of the latest Blackberries as distant seconds. iOS, Android or Win7 are just not made for business.
    Besides, the orange or lime green tiles of Win7 are downright ugly! No matter how well it works, people will want a bit of style.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I have been using Windows Phone for nearly a year now and I really like it. The interface is so much better than the iphone and android alternatives. It is a breath of fresh air. There is a limited application market at the minute but as the operating system becomes more popular there will be more applications as a result. Hopefully they price the new nokia models well and the market is increased.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    @anotherfakename 56.
    Yes, at the time iOS arrived, Android was (and still is) the only viable option to rival against the usability and modularity of iOS. WM was simply Windows downscaled, big mistake that Microsoft only _tried_ to rectify with WP7.

    @United Dreamer 57.
    OSs exist everywhere, but people just want devices that work :). Eating into Apple and Google's share won't be that easy for MS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    My wife and I have been using WP7, and now WP7.5, since shortly after launch and it is fantastic. So much better than iOS/Android in so many ways (although as a developer the lack of a SQL Server release for WP7 makes things a little difficult)

    @60 WP7/WP7.5 phones are available on almost every network in the UK and they're in most phone shops.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Sadly this article doesn't tell you much about the software or the device. Time to get out to store to try one out. It look really fast and the design is fantastic. Finally something that stands out from the crowd.


Comments 5 of 71



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