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Call it a Comeback: How Nokia Plans To Be Successful in the U.S.

Nokia is calling the announcement of its Lumia smartphones a comeback, a new beginning for the company, and the beginning of its new partnership with Microsoft – a partnership that both companies hope will put Nokia-branded Windows Mobile devices in more pockets around the globe.

The first of those phones, the budget Lumia 710 will be available at T-Mobile stores starting January 11, with more handsets and more carriers expected to be announced soon.

What’s the plan?

At Nokia World in October I had the opportunity to chat with Ilari Nurmi the Vice President of Product Marketing Smart Devices for Nokia. In our brief interview time, he talked about this being “a new dawn” for Nokia. In the past year the company has gotten a new CEO (September 21, 2010), a new focus on Windows Mobile, and has managed to now announce two Windows Mobile handsets – not bad for 12 months.

The company has undergone a major overhaul, but is it enough to make it competitive, especially in the U.S. where Android and iOS dominate?

Based on what we saw at Nokia World, the company realizes it’s fighting an uphill battle. Plans are already in place for a massive marketing campaign focused on “The Amazing Everyday” with elaborate in-store displays, and a campaign that includes creating “amazing” experiences in everyday situations that people will want to capture and share on their smartphones (hopefully a Nokia). Examples at the event included men made of grass walking around, women on stilts, and a man in a giant gerbil wheel – Things that if you saw them while you were out of the street you would immediately want to pull out your smartphone and take a photo of.

The marketing campaign is already in action in Europe, and Nurmi indicated in our interview we would see the exact same types of things in the U.S.

We’re actually not going to see any of Nokia’s Windows Phone devices in the U.S. until 2012. The company claims to be working with CDMA and LTE, and will be releasing “a portfolio of devices” in early 2012, although no one is exactly sure what that portfolio will entail besides the 710.

The question is: Does it matter?

Can U.S. Smartphone buyers be pulled away from their iPhones and Android devices by a fancy marketing campaign and some (pretty nice looking) Nokia phones?

I’m growing to be a bigger fan of Windows Mobile daily, and Noah has even ditched his iPhone to use Windows Phone as his daily-driver. It’s a nice OS, and if people give it a try, I’m sure there’ll be at least a few converts. I don’t think Windows Phone is going to gobble up any of the true Android fans out there, but it has the potential to give iOS a run for its money, and could pick up a huge part of the market that’s “just looking for a smartphone” and isn’t dead-set on one particular OS.

The huge tiles, intuitive interface, and free turn-by-turn directions would probably be enough to sell my Mom on a Lumia 710 over an iPhone or Android device, and there are tons more people just like her out there who I’m positive would have a much better smartphone experience if they gave WP a try.

I think if Microsoft (and Nokia) can convince people Windows Phone is where its at, then Nokia’s unique phone designs will be enough to get the handsets out the door.

It’s interesting that the two companies decided to first launch the budget 710 rather than the high-end Lumia 800 here in the United States. The Lumia 800 has a unique design, and one that turns heads. The 710? Not so much. While there’s certainly a market out there for budget handsets,  even Android and Apple fanboys are likely to drool (at least a little) at what the 800 has to offer. In my opinion, drooling is what Nokia needs to make a splash in what is already a pretty saturated U.S. smartphone market. Hopefully (for Nokia’s sake) CES brings with it WP Tango, LTE support, and an army of lust-worthy Nokia handsets.

What do you think? Will Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets be a success in the United States?


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Emily Price

Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...


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