The drum started to beat for the future of two IT giants has started to beat Wednesday when Nokia took the covers off its upcoming Windows Phone 8 handset. Who will play the music is the question.
Nokia and Microsoft Corp. have big bets on the device, as several news outlets that covered the story outlined. Connie Guglielmo of Forbes noted the two companies want to make the mobile world a three horse race: iPhone, Android and WinPhone. SiliconValley.com carried an Associated Press report that pointed out Nokia investors were so unimpressed the stock dropped. ComputerWorld U.S. quoted Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer calling the event an important milestone, although the two handsets revealed won’t be on sale until at least next month.
(The Nokia 920)
And that might be the problem for Nokia investors. With Apple expected to unveil the iPhone 5 next week, it may get a jump on sales. WinPhone 8 handsets can’t go on sale before Oct. 26, when the Windows 8 family (desktop OS, tablet and phone) officially hits the market.
The fact of the matter is — right or wrong — everyone looks to what Apple’s doing. Financial analyst Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity noted on Tuesday that the iPhone 4S was the top selling smart phone in the U.S. for 10 months, only losing the spot to Samsung’s Galaxy SIII last month. He believes that will change with the iPhone 5. Which means everyone is still dancing to Apple’s tune.
Postscript: In a research note sent after attending Wednesday’s press conference Walkley wrote that Nokia management indicated the new Lumias will be launched in limited markets initially, not in most countries. He also cautioned that when the new Lumia’s go on sale Nokia had better make a splash because “it will take very well trained sales people to convince consumers to try Lumia smartphones versus the iPhone 5 and Android smart phones.”
Windows Phone has the potential in the long-term to challenge iOS and Android, he added, but it will be gradual and only if the marketing leverages Microsoft’s software reach and Xbox gaming platform.