Nokia has a lot riding on Windows Phone 8, the coming major release of Microsoft’s smartphone platform. And with its flagging performance in recent quarters, the struggling smartphone giant is reportedly going to change the way it does things and offer a small number of carriers exclusive access to new devices.
The plan comes courtesy of a report in The Financial Times, which says that Nokia is now negotiating with European wireless carriers about forming exclusive arrangements. Typically, the firm has launched as many devices as possible across as many carriers as possible to achieve high-volume sales levels. But under this new plan, it would instead seek to tie the success of its Windows Phone 8 devices to companies that will really sell and support them.
Windows Phone 8 is expected to launch in October alongside Windows 8, with new devices appearing late that month and into early November. This schedule matches the launch schedules for the previous two Windows Phone versions, 7 and 7.5. And this time, Nokia would like to make a big splash, similar to what Apple achieves each year with its annual iPhone launches.
Nokia announced its transition to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform in early 2011 and shipped its first devices, based on Windows Phone 7.5, in late 2011. It re-entered the US market in early 2012 with a variety of devices, including the Lumia 710 and 900, the latter of which was strongly reviewed and has proven a best-seller for AT&T Wireless in particular.
The strategy has worked pretty well: Lumia sales have doubled in each of the past two quarters, up to 4 million units in Q2 2012. But these numbers are dwarfed by sales of rival devices based on Android, and of Apple’s iPhone. And Nokia’s various handset lines, including the Asha line of feature phones, haven’t lived up to the sales volumes of its previous devices. So Nokia is apparently ready to try a new strategy.
Part of the plan involves giving those wireless carriers who sign on a financial stake in the success of the Lumia lineup. Nokia hopes it can incentivize the carriers to support its devices through their retail channels and in special offers to customers, according to The Financial Times. Oddly enough, these carriers might be quite willing to enter into such agreements, as carriers in both the United States and Europe are very eager to end the dominance of Android and iPhone, since they see little financial reward from the sales of those devices.