Nokia Windows Phones Launching This Quarter: Elop

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says he expects Nokia handsets running Windows to debut this quarter.

Nokia's first handsets that run Microsoft's Windows mobile operating system are expected to launch this quarter, according to remarks Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made at a technology conference in Helsinki, Finland, where the company is based. Reuters reported that Elop said it was clear to him that the market could support "an alternative ecosystem" even as the company faces a rising challenge from Google's Android OS and Apple's iPhone, the fifth edition of which is expected to be released today.

Nokia will likely launch at least one Windows-powered mobile device in October, though other devices could come to market before the end of 2011. According to information suggested by Microsoft Canada, the first Windows Phone devices could hit store shelves with the names Sabre and Sea Ray (also spelled as Searay). The company, which has been steadily losing market share to competitors, is still the world's largest handset manufacturer by volume, and has admitted it is putting all its eggs in one basket by abandoning its Symbian OS for Windows.

"When we launch Windows Phones, we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc.," Chris Weber, president of Nokia, told AllThingsD in an interview published Aug. 9. "It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that. The reality is if we are not successful with Windows Phone, it doesn't matter what we do."

IT research firm IDC expressed a similar sentiment in a recent research note, noting that Nokia had little choice but to team up with Microsoft and was pinned in by a particular strategy. "Nokia had to announce early its adoption of the Windows Phone platform because it had to take important cost write-downs in R&D that would have been impossible to hide," IDC analyst Al Hilwa wrote in a July 25 research note. "For one thing, the Symbian R&D albatross would have continued to hobble Nokia's profitability and its ability to make change. For another thing, the platform dithering and in-fighting would have continued and leaked out anyway."

An August report from IT research firm Gartner found Nokia rivals using Google Android-based operating systems and Apple's iPhone have been putting continued pressure on Nokia's market share. The Android platform ascended to take 43.4 percent of the market, more than doubling its share from this time last year. Nokia came in second with 22.1 percent, and Apple notched 18.1 percent. Nokia, once the dominant smartphone maker, saw its Symbian market share slide to 22.1 percent from 40.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. The Finnish company sold 97.9 million mobile devices in Q2.

Nokia also recently released its first-and last-smartphone using the now-defunct MeeGo OS. The N9 offers three home views via its touch-screen interface, including Applications, Events and Live Applications, to enable users to navigate through the smartphone. One of the N9's main selling features is users can swipe their fingers across the 3.9-inch active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) screen in order to navigate away from an application. Plus, there is no home-screen button, which lends the handset a sleek, futuristic look.