Nokia plans to launch its Windows Phone 7 products in six European nations this year, in a move to turnaround its struggling fortunes.
The company’s Europe vice president Victor Saeijs said Windows Phone 7 handsets will debut in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the U.K. The long-awaited news comes after Nokia and Microsoft inked signed a partnership deal earlier this spring, allowing the handset maker to produce smartphones running Windows Phone OS.
Nokia and Microsoft both have a lot at stake with a Nokia Windows Phone release. Nokia has fallen on difficult times lately, witnessing declining profits and market share. The Finnish company tried to stem the losses by cutting the cord on its outdated Symbian software, but may not have acted quickly enough, and its slow pace in embracing the importance of app-centric, touchscreen devices have left it out in the cold.
Analysts are predicting Nokia, which now controls 24 percent of the smartphone market, will relinquish its crown as top global handset maker, a title held since 1996, to Samsung and Apple.
Nokia last month announced lowered forecasts and more hard times ahead, putting increasing pressure on its partnership with Microsoft to yield impressive results. The Finnish phone maker expects its net sales in the second quarter of 2011 to be “substantially below” its earlier prediction of $8.7 billion, attributing the shortfall to fierce competition from Apple, Android and BlackBerry in the smartphone market.
If Nokia needs help, so does Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash.-based company is banking on anything to help it get back on track in the mobile market. Microsoft has been slow at getting its footing in the smartphone industry, and now is playing catch up to Apple and Google.
Despite bad news, the outlook for Microsoft is looking up. After a sub-par release of the Windows Phone 7 in Nov. 2010, Microsoft has seen sales of the of the phone nearly double from April to May.
A Millennial Media study found the number of Windows Phone handsets grew over 90 percent from month to month, though it still controls just one percent of the market.
Research firm IDC predicts if the Nokia deal can be successful, it could help Microsoft become the second largest smartphone platform in the world by 2015, trailing only Android. Nokia is still the largest handset manufacturer globally, and still carries a creditable name in the phone industry, making it a potential easy sell for consumers, especially abroad and in emerging markets.
For its part, Microsoft will be releasing an update for the Windows Phone 7, dubbed Mango, which will include over 500 new features, including Twitter integration, turn-by-turn navigation and improved speeds when changing between applications.
Consumers look for the phone that will give them the most bang for their buck, so if Microsoft can offer these features plus hundreds more, it could make consumers take notice.
Both Nokia and Microsoft have a lot at stake with this partnership. If successful, Nokia could again become the popular handset maker it once was, while Microsoft can return to be to one of the top technology companies in the world in a newly mobile era.