Nokia (NYSE:NOK) is gearing up for its second big smartphone announcement for this year. The Finnish handset maker is following up its May launch of Lumia 925 with another launch event scheduled for July 11 in New York, promising to "reinvent zoom" with its new device this time. While the invite teases nothing about a camera, the media is abuzz with rumors that the long-awaited 41 megapixel camera may finally be making its way into a Lumia Windows Phone.
Nokia had introduced the 41 MP camera in a Symbian-powered 808 PureView device a year ago, but with the last of the Symbian devices being shipped this summer, Nokia will be looking to carry the innovation forward in a Windows Phone. Whether that will happen next month in New York or much closer to the holiday season remains to be seen, but the addition of Nokia's high-end PureView innovation would definitely help the Lumia stand out amid some stiff competition from the Android and the iOS.
While the 808 PureView's camera was a technological marvel in itself, the high price tag and a soon-to-be-outdated OS meant that the phone received very little support from the carriers. Nokia itself was also cutting its marketing spend on Symbian phones while transitioning to Windows Phone, and the 808 wasn't central to its comeback plans either. However, now that Windows Phones are gradually gaining traction and Nokia is leading the way with its Lumia brand, it seems that the 808's time has finally come, albeit in a Windows Phone avatar.
PureView Differentiation Key in the U.S.
Nokia's Lumia phones seem to be gaining impressive momentum this year with the launch of the full fleet of Windows Phones that cover almost every price range. Along with the Lumia 9xx and 8xx high-end smartphones that were launched last year, Nokia is marketing the mid-and low-end 7xx, 6xx and 5xx series of Lumias well in the emerging markets as well as Europe. As a result, Nokia now accounts for more than 80% of the small but growing Windows Phone market.
In the U.S., where the Lumia brand has been slow to take off, Nokia is expanding its presence by bringing more carriers aboard. After providing AT&T with an initial six months of exclusive access to the Lumia 920, Nokia has now expanded its reach to Verizon's as well as T-Mobile’s subscribers as well by offering them slightly modified variants of the high-end smartphone.
The Lumia 928 and the Lumia 925 are being sold by Verizon and T-Mobile, respectively. At the low end, the Lumia 520 is being marketed through T-Mobile. These carrier relationships are really important for Nokia to succeed in the U.S. where carrier subsidies drive the bulk of smartphone sales. Considering how important and lucrative the U.S. market is for high-end smartphones, Nokia will be looking to strengthen its carrier relationships by bringing the high-end camera technology to its premium Lumias.
By doing so, it will be able to offer something very different from what the plethora of Android phones and the iPhone do. Differentiation has been one of the key strengths of Nokia's comeback, with the company backing an unproven but new Windows Phone platform over Android. Having a technology that makes possible taking high-resolution 41 megapixel pictures on a smartphone will help the Lumia stand out even more. However, despite having released the technology in the market earlier, Nokia never brought it to the U.S. anticipating that the concept would not find many takers on an outdated OS. With a Windows Phone, however, Nokia can finally market the technology on a true smartphone OS that is seeing a steady rise in interest among consumers.
Disclosure: No positions.