Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

New Smartphones May Be Nokia's Last Stand

The ailing phone maker banks on high-quality cameras, augmented reality, and wireless charging.

In perhaps its last shot at making inroads in a market dominated by battling rivals Apple and Samsung, Nokia launched a new line of smartphones in New York this morning with the new Microsoft Windows Phone 8 operating system.

Among other features, the Lumia 920 includes an enhanced camera with Carl Zeiss lenses and software that works better in low-light situations, smoother HD video technology, and a pad for wireless charging. It also has an augmented reality feature called “Nokia City Lens”—if you point the camera at a building, the phone will give you information about a store or restaurant on the site.

The phones are crucial for Nokia, which once dominated the mobile phone market but more recently had to cut 40,000 jobs because of poor sales of its existing Lumia models. Regardless of how snazzy the new phones are, “to be considered credible by the ecosystem—especially developers—they have to make a big dent in sales,” says Chetan Sharma, an industry analyst in Seattle. “Nokia’s destiny might get defined by the 2012 holiday season.”

Both Nokia and Microsoft face a long uphill climb. In the second quarter, Windows phones held only 3.7 percent of the global smartphone market, according to a study by Strategy Analytics. Android phones have 68 percent, and Apple has 17 percent. One positive sign for Microsoft is that Samsung, HTC, and Acer also are working on models that use Windows Phone 8 as their operating system.

It is a busy month for smartphone launches. Motorola Mobility—now owned by Google—joined up with Verizon this afternoon for the unveiling of new phones. Both Nokia and Motorola are trying to get a jump on Apple’s expected announcement of the iPhone5 next Wednesday. In addition, Amazon is expected to introduce new Kindle tablets tomorrow.

Nokia may have gotten a slight indirect benefit from the $1 billion verdict Apple won over Samsung in a patent case last month (see “Apple/Samsung: The Verdict on Innovation”). That ruling tarnished Google’s Android operating system, which was installed on Samsung’s phones, while Nokia has a large storehouse of mobile communications patents (see “Nokia’s Patents Are Its Last Line of Defense”).

However, the legal issues still have years to play out, says R. Polk Wagner, an intellectual property law expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “It is all very early in what is likely to be a long battle. Certainly from a manufacturer point of view, it makes Android somewhat less attractive, because of the risk of infringement. But whether that additional risk is enough to overcome other advantages in favor of Android is very unclear,” Wagner says.

Among other differences, Windows Phones have only about 100,000 apps available, while there are around 500,000 for Android phones or iPhones. But the overall global smartphone business keeps exploding: estimates from CCS Insight hold that some 700 million smartphones will be shipped by the end of this year, outstripping PCs.

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.