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Nokia Windows Phones To Arrive in U.S. Markets Next Month

The U.S. debut of Nokia smartphones will happen on Jan. 11, 2012, which is when T-Mobile rolls out the Nokia Lumia 710 running Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango."

Finnish phone company Nokia is betting its future on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, having largely stepped away from its Symbian mobile operating system platform. Company officials hope to broaden Nokia's smartphone reach in U.S. markets via Microsoft's OS.

The Lumia 710 is the economy-priced version of the two Windows smartphones that Nokia unveiled in late October. The device is "expected" to cost $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate, based on a two-year service agreement that includes a voice and data plan. (The "expected" phrasing comes from T-Mobile's announcement.)

In announcing the Lumia 710's availability on Wednesday, T-Mobile articulated some reasons why Microsoft and Nokia still have a shot despite market leads held by Google's Android-based devices and Apple's iPhones.

T-Mobile's news release noted that 150 million people in the United States haven't upgraded to their first smartphones. Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer at T-Mobile USA, made the argument that T-Mobile's voice and data plans, combined with the relatively inexpensive new Nokia device, would be attractive to first-time smartphone buyers.

"Our research shows nearly everybody in the U.S. wants a smartphone, but many believe they can't afford it," Brodman said in a statement.

In the same news release, former Microsoft partner executive and current Nokia Americas President Chris Weber added that "this is the perfect first Nokia Lumia experience and the start of our re-entry into the U.S. smartphone market."

Michael Stroh, who posts regularly on the Microsoft Windows Phone blog, wrote that the T-Mobile version of the Nokia phone will come "pre-stocked with popular apps including ESPN, Netflix, The Weather Channel, Slacker Radio, T-Mobile TV, and Nokia Drive for voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation." The voice navigation app is being touted by Nokia as a major differentiator for their devices.

Lumia

The device has a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA touchscreen, a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor and a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera. Unlike the version launched in Europe, the Lumia 710 for T-Mobile in the United States is available only in white and black. European carriers have blue, pink and yellow versions, as well.

The other notable missing feature of the Lumia 710 and its higher end (but not publicly announced for America yet) sibling, the Lumia 800, is a front-facing camera (FFC). That omission is important because the Nokia devices will compete with a second-generation of Windows Phone devices that mostly have FFCs and because key Microsoft apps such as Lync and Skype are expected to eventually depend on FFCs for some functionality.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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