Verizon Backing Nokia Windows Phone 8 Smartphone: Report

Verizon's name won't be on the party favors at Nokia's planned Sept. 5 fete, but the carrier will, like AT&T, sell the smartphone, just "later."

Verizon Wireless will join AT&T in championing Nokia's Windows Phone cause, Bloomberg reported Aug. 23, citing people familiar with the matter. If correct, Verizon's clout could help both Nokia and Microsoft-two companies looking to make a bigger splash in the mobile market.

While Verizon won't put its name on the Sept. 5 event Nokia has planned, and where it's widely expected to introduce its newest smartphone (or smartphones) running Microsoft Windows Phone 8, it "intends to roll out a Nokia phone later," said the report.

While Verizon opened its doors to Microsoft with the HTC Trophy-not a winner, in the end-it held off on the Lumia line, the first high-end devices to come out to Nokia's still relatively new alliance with Microsoft.

In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile have been cheerleaders of the Lumia, and during Nokia's last earnings call, CEO Stephen Elop shared that the company had sold 4 million Lumia 900 handsets, which was twice what it sold during the first quarter.

Strategy Analytics estimated that Nokia shipped 6.9 million Lumia phones in the devices' first three quarters after launch-a modest figure on the whole, but a more impressive start than either the first Apple iPhone (3.7 million) or Samsung's first Android devices (1.3 million) posted in their first three quarters, according to the firm's figures.

"Based on historical shipment benchmarks," Neil Mawston, executive director of wireless device strategies at Strategy Analytics, said in a July statement, "Nokia's new Lumia portfolio is performing reasonably well. Some of the pessimism surrounding Nokia and Microsoft's emerging partnership so far may be misplaced."

Still, Apple and Samsung, which during the second quarter shipped 26 million and 50.2 million smartphones, respectively, to Nokia's 10.2 million, have been safer bets for Verizon. But like AT&T, Verizon wants a third mobile platform to get behind-in part to lessen its dependence on the Apple iPhone, which comes with high up-front costs to the carriers-and support for Windows Phone has been expected.

"Verizon stated that it would like to promote WP8 similar to how it promoted Android in 2009," Michael Soper, with Technology Business Research, wrote in a July 20 research note forecasting carrier support for the upcoming OS. "Additionally, AT&T, T-Mobile USA and U.S. Cellular voiced support for the platform, and Leap Wireless was having discussions with Microsoft about prepaid WP8 devices."

Sprint is the only major carrier that hasn't committed or suggested support for the brand, saying it will wait and see.

Elop, knowing Research In Motion would like its BlackBerry OS to fill the third seat, told analysts during Nokia's last earnings call, "We have learned that it takes tremendous amount of work to break through as the third ecosystem, and we are viewing the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 as an important moment in this journey."

A side note: Lest anyone reading Bloomberg's report that "Verizon Wireless plans to sell a new Nokia Oyj phone with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8 software" fear that Nokia has given its new phone an unpronounceable Finnish name, "Oyj" is the Finnish equivalent of "plc.," indicating Nokia is a public company.