Nokia announced Monday the availability of its much-hyped Lumia 710 smartphone starting January 11, and its Lumia 800 smartphone in February. The Lumia series marks the the Finnish smartphone maker's first effort to run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 "Mango" operating system rather than its home-grown Symbian OS.
Both the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 run a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor and tout a multi-touch 3.7-inch scratch-resistant display. The more modestly priced Lumia 710, starting at $49.99, offers 8 GB of internal user memory and up to seven hours of battery life, while the Lumia 800 offers a more robust 16 GB of memory and a battery life of up to nine hours. Pricing details for the Lumia 800 have not yet been disclosed by Nokia.
It’s the new phones’ OS, however, that is piquing the market’s interest more than their form factor or price point. According to Nokia, the launch of Lumia smartphones will add to the 50,000 apps already available in Windows Phone Marketplace and introduce apps from CNN, Univision, ESPN and Sesame Workshop which will be available exclusively to Nokia customers before making their way to the Marketplace.
This built-up ecosystem is the result of a partnership between Microsoft and Nokia that was initiated last year. The two created an alliance in February to develop a new mobile device ecosystem based on Windows Phone, in hopes of competing against mobile giants Apple and Google. As of October, market analyst ComScore reported that Google’s Android accounted for 46.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market share, while Apple held the runner-up spot with 28.1 percent. Microsoft’s Windows Phone, however, accounted for only 5.4 percent, while Nokia’s Symbian represented an even smaller 1.6 percent.
Despite the seemingly unwavering grip Apple and Google have on the U.S. market, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is confident that the Lumia series, coupled with a revamped Window Phone ecosystem, will see success.
"Today, developers, operators and consumers want compelling mobile products, which include not only the device, but the software, services, applications and customer support that make a great experience," Elop said during a conference in London last February. "Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale. It's now a three-horse race."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears just as confident in the partnership. "Our agreement is good for the industry," said Ballmer said in a statement. "Together, Nokia and Microsoft will innovate with greater speed, and provide enhanced opportunities for consumers and our partners to share in the success of our ecosystem."
Ballmer even showed off Nokia’s next-generation Lumia smartphone, Lumia 900, during Microsoft’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. The phone, which is set to hit U.S. stores "in the next few months," will run on AT&T’s "blazing fast" network, Ballmer said.