Industry sources speaking to TechnoBuffalo have revealed that the Lumia Icon on Verizon Wireless will launch globally around the world later this year under the Lumia 929 brand. Nokia can’t keep the “Icon” branding since that is a Verizon exclusive. The move will occur sometime in late spring or summer as Microsoft begins to revitalize its Windows Phone portfolio, likely following the Microsoft BUILD conference in early April.
The Lumia brand is particularly important for Microsoft moving forward, especially following Nokia’s decision to launch the X, X+ and XL Android smartphones. Remember – shortly after the deal closes, Microsoft will need to rely on the Lumia name, and not the Nokia brand, to sell smartphones. It’s unclear what Microsoft’s mobile hardware division will be called yet, but we can expect new devices under the name “Microsoft Lumia” or something similar, since using the Nokia brand name will be off the table for two years.
The whole goal of the new Android devices is to offer consumers Microsoft and Nokia services – such as OneDrive, Skype and more – in the hopes that they’ll want to upgrade to a Lumia Windows Phone down the line. You can think of them as a gateway drug into Windows Phone – at least, that’s how Microsoft hopes it will play out.
Nokia’s team inside Microsoft will put a huge focus on the Lumia portfolio moving forward, again to show the power of Windows Phone and Nokia’s services versus something akin to a low-end Android handset that’s designed for emerging markets. That means new flagships and new innovative features, though most likely not until after April when Windows Phone 8.1 will be introduced for the first time. Keep in mind that Microsoft bought Nokia — a consumer focused company — to make a big play in the consumer space. It will be more important than ever for Microsoft to allow the Nokia devices and services team to keep operating as they were so that we see the same top-notch hardware and software development that Nokia has already provided for Windows Phone.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially with the name change, is that the Nokia company still very much exists. There’s also still mobile research and development going on at the headquarters in Finland. That means it’s not out of the realm of possibility that, in a few years, we’ll see that Nokia launches new smartphones running any operating system it sees fit. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s also not entirely off the table.
In the coming months, look for the Lumia 929 to launch globally, and that should be about when Nokia starts kicking its Lumia offering back into high-gear again. The Nokia Android devices are compelling, for sure, but Lumia devices are the company’s real bread and butter and sources say there’s a lot to look forward to.