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European Carriers Aren’t Digging Nokia’s Lumia Line

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Nokia hasn’t had the best year. Of course, the launch of the Lumia line has been refreshing, as Nokia’s much-anticipated Windows Powered offerings are finally out in the world, trying to woo owners like neon-colored puppies in a pet shop window.

The only problem is that four of the major wireless operators in Europe have deemed Nokia’s WP phones “not good enough to compete with Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy phones,” according to Reuters.

The Lumia 710 and 800 have been on sale in Europe since before Christmas, and Europe has long been an easy market for Nokia. But times are a’changin’. One executive interviewed by Reuters said that “no one comes into the store and asks for a Windows Phone.” Which precisely pinpoints Nokia’s biggest issue. If the company was throwing Windows Phone onto its hardware 12-15 months ago, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal — Nokia still had enough market share.

Now, however, Nokia is coming off the slump of all slumps. About a year ago (in May), Nokia saw its lowest market share in 14 years: 25 percent. Windows Phone also hasn’t penetrated the market as strongly as expected, so the partnership is much like two beaten, bruised gazelles teaming up to take on a pack of lions. Not super successful.

But there’s also something to be said about the way the retailers are selling Nokia’s Lumia phones. It wouldn’t be the first time we’d heard about sales reps ignoring Windows Phones, and pushing Android devices or iPhones into the faces of consumers. WPTattleTale.com was started by Windows Phone enthusiast Robert McLaws, who believes that Windows Phone hasn’t been given a chance in stores.

And Reuters reports that a similar situation is occurring in Europe, saying that a store clerk was quick to offer up an iPhone, followed by Samsung and HTC’s Android models to incoming consumers. Lumia models, on the other hand, were not prominently displayed.

So is it the fault of the stores or is it the fault of the device? Probably a hint of both. Specs on the Lumia line can’t compete with those of Android or the iPhone, and those are just the cold hard facts. But in the same vein, Nokia’s WP phones are basically perfect for the new smartphone buyer or anyone looking for a refresh from an old phone.

Time, and the release of Windows Phone Apollo, should tell us if this is a growing pain or a sign of things to come.


European Carriers Aren’t Digging Nokia’s Lumia Line

Microsoft Still Fighting For Windows Phone Developer Love (And Buying It When Needed)

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Microsoft is pushing their Windows Phone platform like crazy these days — it recently debuted in China, and the flagship Nokia Windows Phone is due to hit U.S. shelves shortly with a huge marketing blitz in tow — but the company still has a little app problem to deal with.

More than a few developers still don’t see developing Windows Phone apps as a priority, and the New York Times reported yesterday that Microsoft is doing what they have to in order to change those minds. Among other things on their list of tactics, Microsoft has offered to fund process of bringing big-name apps to Windows Phone “where it makes sense.”

Microsoft is no stranger to this sort of thing — they’ve offered plenty of free Windows Phones to developers in the past in an effort to spark some interest in their still-growing platform. Hell, Microsoft has been offering financial support to developers since before the first Windows Phones were even released.

Among the parties who have taken up Microsoft on their generous offer is Ben Huh of Cheezburger Network fame (not to mention soon-to-be reality TV star), who told the Times that Microsoft “took care of everything” when it came to developing a lolcat-touting Windows Phone app. Foursquare jumped on the wagon too, with bizdev head Holger Luedorf mentioning that a Windows Phone app was low on their list of priorities until Microsoft offered to underwrite its development.

Despite Microsoft’s paradoxically small presence in the mobile space they’ve got a decent-sized checkbook to play with. I can’t blame Microsoft for trying to buy love from developers — right now, they’re just fighting to keep up with major releases that have already found their way to other platforms. If they want to stand any chance at gaining traction in this market, they’ve got to give their customers the impression that they’re not missing out on anything by taking a chance on Windows Phone.

Take the Angry Birds kerfuffle for example — Rovio CMO/Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka ruffled more than a few feathers when he remarked that Angry Birds Space wouldn’t find a home on Windows Phone. Rovio followed up the next day with news that the franchise’s latest game would indeed make the WP transition, but writers and pundits had plenty of fun with the news while it lasted.

That’s exactly the sort of thing Microsoft needs to avoid, and it seems as though they’ll grease the palms they need to to keep it from becoming an issue. While those highly popular, big-name apps may keep consumers from regretting their choice of smartphone, Microsoft still has another issue to contend with: many of the apps to be found are awful.

You see, the news comes just a few days after the number of apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace tip-toed over 80,000 (that includes region-specific apps, your mileage may vary). It seems like it would be quite an achievement, and it gets them that much closer to the milestone, but sifting through the junk can be a hell of a thing. My former colleague (and my favorite Belgian) Robin Wauters has a great piece on The Next Web about how the Windows Phone app store is populated by questionable, derivative crap.

Make no mistake, Microsoft knows about these cr-apps. Last year, they had to cut down on the number of apps a developer would be able to submit to the Marketplace in a single day, from 20 down to 10. It was all in an effort to stem the hordes of spammy app submissions that would flood the Marketplace’s New section, which meant that actual good apps from honest developers may not get the shot they deserved. It’s an environment that doesn’t always seem very conducive to developers on the up-and-up.

And there will be plenty of those developers, if Microsoft has anything to say about it. The Wall Street Journal notes that Microsoft has put plenty of time and money into sponsoring over 850 developer sessions across the globe in 2011, which the Journal says is triple the number they held the year before.

Now, it’s awfully easy to rag on Microsoft and Windows Phone for its app troubles, but they’ve got a great opportunity here. The Windows Phone platform is the youngest of the major smartphone OS competitors, and while it isn’t as pervasive or as popular as iOS or Android, this sort of hands-on approach may end up paying off big time. It’s a fight that must be fought on multiple fronts — Microsoft should ideally be more stringent with submissions but keep the process smooth for well-reputed and promising developers, as well as making sure those big-name apps keep pouring in. Whether or not Microsoft’s machinations will make for a real three horse race remains to be seen, but you can bet that won’t keep the folks in Redmond from trying anyway.


Microsoft Still Fighting For Windows Phone Developer Love (And Buying It When Needed)

T-Mobile Poster Reveals Nokia Drive For Windows Phone, Confirms Sabre?

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Oops. A new promotional poster made an appearance in a store at T-Mobile’s German headquarters, where it confirmed the existence of a Nokia Windows Phone with a 3.7-inch display and Nokia’s Drive navigation service.

The poster was up only briefly, but a quick-thinking tipster snapped a few shots and fired them off to WinRumors. After running it through a quick and dirty Google translation, the poster’s copy mentions that Nokia Drive for WP includes a 3D navigation display like its MeeGo cousin, and support for voice control.

Thrilling, no? Of course, that’s not all the poster had in store for us. Further down in the description, it makes mention of a device packing a 3.7-inch curved AMOLED display.

Nokia’s fabled Searay handset reportedly bears quite a resemblance to the company’s N9, but whether or not it shares the device’s 3.9-inch display is still in the air. If it does though, then these marketing materials may refer to another Nokia device that was accidentally outed earlier this week.

If the terms and conditions of a Microsoft Canada contest are to be believed, then Nokia has at least one more Windows Phone in the pipeline. Rumors of a handset called the Sabre can be laid to rest, as the contest’s fine print seems to back up the device’s existence. Details are pretty much non-existent at this stage, but WPCentral ruminated that the Sabre would have a 3.7-inch display when they first caught wind of it last month.

The matching screen sizes could be a complete coincidence, but it’s also possible that Nokia’s Sabre is farther along then we thought. The fact that Microsoft has since pulled the offending wording from the contest rules only makes the Sabre look more official. With Nokia’s Windows Phones poised to launch before the year is out, they’ll hopefully come forward with details sooner rather than later.


T-Mobile Poster Reveals Nokia Drive For Windows Phone, Confirms Sabre?