Nokia's pair of new Windows Phone devices offers a snapshot of Microsoft's coming strategy for the platform.
At the high end of the market is the Lumia 800, a smartphone packed with some powerful hardware: a 1.4GHz processor, hardware acceleration and graphics processor, an 8-megapixel camera that uses Carl Zeiss optics, 16GB of internal user memory (along with 25GB of free SkyDrive storage for music and images), and a 3.7-inch active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) ClearBlack curved display integrated into a body rendered from a single piece of polycarbonate.
In a play toward the midmarket, Nokia is also offering the cheaper Lumia 710, also with a 1.4GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera.
"Lumia is the first real Windows Phone," Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told the audience during a London keynote Oct. 26. "We are signaling our intent right now to be today's leaders in smartphone design and craftsmanship, no question about it."
Having abandoned its own operating systems in favor of an all-in bet on Windows Phone, Nokia desperately needs these two devices-and all the ones scheduled to arrive after them-to succeed on the open market. To sweeten the deal for consumers, Nokia has installed some exclusive applications with its phones, including Nokia Drive (with turn-by-turn navigation and voice-activated control) and Nokia Maps, which offers up points of interest around the user's location.
The Lumia 710 and 800 will debut later this year in several countries throughout the world, and then in the United States sometime in early 2012. (In Europe, the Lumia 800 will sell for the equivalent of approximately $584, while the Lumia 710 will sell for $376; price points in the United States remain unannounced). By then, other Windows Phone manufacturers will have-presumably-introduced their own devices to the market.
That release cycle comes just as Microsoft signals its intent to make Windows Phone more of a midmarket player. "We are dramatically broadening the set of price points in Mango-related phones that we can reach," Andy Lees, president of Microsoft's Windows Phone division, told the audience during the Asia D conference Oct. 19. "That's particularly important because going lower down in price point opens up more addressable market."
The Lumia 710 certainly seems in line with that plan, although it remains to be seen how any carrier subsidies might ultimately affect its U.S. price. It remains to be seen whether other manufacturers will follow suit with their new generation of Windows Phones, and unveil collections of higher-end devices paired with more midmarket offerings.