A report in Bloomberg claims that Nokia will announce its Windows Phone 8 handsets at a September trade show ahead of the event Apple will allegedly use to launch its next iPhone. That’s an awful lot of speculation, frankly. But if true, it provides Nokia with a quick boost to its Lumia lineup during a difficult transition.
The Bloomberg report cites only a single source, which it claims has knowledge of Nokia’s plans. But it’s true that Nokia plans to hold its annual Nokia World 2012 trade show beginning September 5, so it makes sense that the firm would at least announce its next-generation Windows Phone 8 handsets at that time. But the devices won’t actually ship until later in the year, “before the year-end holiday shopping season.”
That schedule aligns with the traditional release schedule for Windows Phone. In 2010, Windows Phone 7 devices debuted in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. And in 2011, Windows Phone 7.5 handsets debuted at roughly the same time. Most expect Windows Phone 8 handsets to begin shipping in late October or early November 2012.
Apple is rumored to be holding an event later in September at which it is expected to launch its iPhone 5 and other iOS-based devices. It’s likely, however, that Apple’s next iPhone will ship sooner than late October or early November, so it’s not clear what advantage Nokia could gain by announcing its new handsets sooner.
Nokia has struggled since Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007, and its decision to back Windows Phone has thus far not made up any of the losses. Nokia has posted a loss for five consecutive quarters and has slid to under 5 percent of the market. But its Lumia line of Windows Phone handsets have been doubling sales quarter over quarter, and Nokia beat analyst projections by selling 4 million units in Q2 2012. AT&T Wireless says that sales of the devices have exceeded expectations.
Windows Phone 8 is the source of some controversy for both Nokia and Microsoft, the OS’s maker. Microsoft revealed in June that it won't provide this system as an upgrade to any existing handsets, but will instead only sell it on new handset models that feature multi-core processors and other new features. So even Nokia’s current flagship device, the Lumia 900, can't run Windows Phone 8.
Nokia claims this limitation hasn't yet affected Lumia sales. But the quarter leading up to the Windows Phone 8 launch could be ugly for the struggling smartphone maker, since its current devices could be viewed as technological dead ends.