Nokia this morning announced two new smartphones, both of which will run the newest version of Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.
The Lumia 920 is the company’s new flagship phone. It’s got a 4.5-inch high-resolution display, a dual-core processor, 32-gigabytes of storage space, an 8.7-megapixel camera that’s optimized for shooting pictures in low light and an LTE radio. The phone’s screen is actually higher resolution than that on Apple’s iPhone, which introduced the concept of a Retina Display — a screen on which the pixels are so small they are supposedly indetectable to the human eye.
The company did not announce pricing or carrier support for either phone. It also didn’t announce when exactly they will store shelves, saying only that they will start shipping in certain unspecified countries later this year.
I wasn’t at the event, so I haven’t gotten my hands on the phones just yet. The specifications of the 920 sound intriguing; I’m eager to see its screen, how long its battery lasts and how well it shoots pictures in low light. I’m also eager to test Windows Phone 8 on a real phone.
Regardless of how well the Lumia 920 performs, I think Nokia is going to find limited demand for the devices. Hardware generally hasn’t been Nokia’s problem. Both the Lumia 900 and the Lumia 710, which hit stores earlier this year, were well-designed. And the 900 had fairly compelling features.
What’s sunk Nokia’s sales has been the lack of interest in Windows Phone among consumers, carriers and software developers. Consumers haven’t been buying Windows Phone devices, the wireless companies don’t carry a wide selection of them, and the number and diversity of applications available for the operating system is a fraction of what consumers can find on iPhones or smartphones running Google’s Android operating system. Unfortunately for Nokia and Microsoft, most developers don’t yet see Windows Phone as a viable market for their programs. And Microsoft didn’t help matters much by bringing out a new version of the software that won’t run on older Windows Phone devices.
Today’s announcement was clearly an effort by Nokia (and partner Microsoft) to get out ahead of Apple, which is expected to unveil the iPhone 5 next week, with a competitive and compelling rival product. But Nokia seems not to have learned any lessons from Apple’s success. The point is not to just announce a new product with compelling features, but to get it into consumers’ hands as quickly as possible. From the announcement today, it appears that by the time the Lumia 920 or 820 are on shelves, the iPhone 5 will have been long been available. That can’t help Nokia’s prospects.