Verizon Wireless will soon begin selling a Nokia Lumia 822, offering the struggling Finnish phone maker, whose sales figures have fallen to new lows, access to the nation's largest wireless subscriber base.
Since Nokia announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft in February 2011 and made the switch from Symbian to the Windows Phone operating system, AT&T has been the exclusive provider of the resultant devices in the United States. In November, AT&T will begin selling the Lumia 920 and 820, smartphones running the newest version of Windows Phone, though these will reportedly be exclusive to AT&T for only a handful of months. The Lumia 822 will be the first Nokia phone Verizon has offered since the 2009 Twist, an unusual square-shaped phone with a single hinge that could swing up the display over a QWERTY keypad.
"This is a market that has lots of impact globally and lots of influence, so it's one we have to get right," Chris Weber, Nokia's head of sales and marketing, told Bloomberg, according to an Oct. 29 report.
According to Bloomberg, Nokia is marketing the Lumia 822 to those looking to upgrade from a basic handset, as well as to BlackBerry users frustrated by old models and losing patience to wait until early 2013 for new ones—a move at least one analyst had earlier suggested.
When Nokia and AT&T worked to sell the Lumia 900 and 800—the first Nokia Windows Phones—to first-time smartphone users, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a blog post that a more achievable and disruptive goal would be for Nokia and Microsoft "to convert every BlackBerry user to Windows Phone within two years."
While consumer interest in Apple iPhones and Android-running smartphones have been the primary sources of both Nokia and RIM's troubles, "BlackBerry users [have], consciously or unconsciously, opted not to buy into Apple or Google ecosystems thus far," wrote Rotman Epps.
Nokia led the global mobile phone market for 14 years until Samsung, on strong sales of its Android-running Galaxy devices, overtook it in April, knocking it to the No. 2 spot.
During the third quarter of this year, Nokia failed to rank among the top five smartphone sellers, IDC reported Oct. 25.
While during the second quarter of 2012 Nokia shipped 10.2 million smartphones, during the third quarter, it evidently shipped fewer than fifth-ranking HTC's 7.3 million units.
"The company's transition away from Symbian-powered smartphones to ones shipped with Windows Phone has left ample opportunity for rivals to steal share away from Nokia over the past 18 months," wrote IDC Senior Research Analyst Kevin Restivo. "However, the smartphone market is still relatively nascent, which means there's room for multiple vendors and operating systems to flourish, including Nokia."
The Lumia 822, says Bloomberg, will include the City Lens app that Nokia introduced at the 920 and 820's unveiling. Used in conjunction with the camera, City Lens highlights points of interest, such as restaurants and bus stops.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop told Bloomberg that winning U.S. customers is a top priority for the company. Even during Nokia's most successful years, it never had a strong U.S. user base, relying instead on Europe and elsewhere. Nokia's new deal with Verizon, said Elop, "is proof that we're on the right track."