Nokia unveils new smartphone

New York TimesSeptember 5, 2012 

Microsoft and Nokia, two companies that have not gotten much traction in the smartphone market lately, are hoping for another chance. The companies on Wednesday unveiled a Lumia smartphone that includes the Windows Phone operating system – new models of products that have not sold well.

At a news conference in New York, Nokia and Microsoft showed the Lumia 920, a smartphone that includes Nokia’s PureView camera technology and a wireless battery-charging capability. It also briefly introduced the Lumia 820, a mid-priced smartphone with exchangeable covers. The smartphones run Windows Phone 8, the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile software system.

“This is the most innovative smartphone in the world,” said Jo Harlow, Nokia’s executive vice president. She said the smartphone takes better pictures and video, especially in low light, than any other phone camera on the market, and that it would include access to Nokia’s mapping database, which provides maps for 200 countries.

Nokia, once the biggest phone-maker in the world, was dethroned by Samsung earlier this year. Based in Finland, Nokia has been trying hard to gain a foothold in the smartphone market with its Lumia line. It tried to make a big splash this year with the Lumia 900 on AT&T, which cost $100 with a two-year contract. Both AT&T and Nokia backed this phone with an enormous promotional campaign, but sales were still lackluster.

On Wednesday the company demonstrated a feature called City Lens, which allows people to point the Lumia camera at restaurants and other local businesses and see reviews overlaid on top of the image. It also showed the Fatboy, a pad that the phone can be placed on to charge its battery.

The companies did not disclose prices or release dates for either of the phones, but said they would arrive in some markets in the last three months of this year.

Investors seemed unhappy with the announcements. Nokia’s U.S. shares were down 11 percent in afternoon trading.

But analysts were optimistic that the Lumia 920 would grab the attention of phone buyers. Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner Research, said features like City Lens and PureView would help differentiate the smartphone from its pack of competitors. “No consumer will mistake these phones for other devices on the market,” he said.

But Gartenberg said this might not be enough to lure shoppers away from more popular phones, especially the iPhone and some of the big-selling Android-powered devices. Nokia, he said, “must show consumers that different is also better.”

Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said offering features like the ability to wirelessly charge the device would only help Nokia if the phone is cleverly marketed and priced competitively enough to convince consumers to open their wallets.

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