"Plan B is that Plan A must succeed." Those are the words of Nokia vice president Victor Saeijes, as spoken to Swedish paper Dagens Industri. Saeijes is basically admitting that Nokia's only strategy for turning itself around is to succeed with Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. If Windows Phone fails for Nokia, then Nokia itself could fail.
What's most surprising about this statement is not the strategy itself, but that Nokia admitted as much. Even more so is Saeijes' admission that the U.S. market is key. "It’s like starting all over again," he said. “We must succeed in the U.S. if we are to succeed in the world."
In other words, Nokia has to successfully convince a significant percentage of U.S. consumers to stop buying Android smartphones and iPhones and choose Nokia's Windows Phone smartphones instead. That's an extremely tall order, though some don't think it is out of the question.
[ Apple cofounder admires Android. See Wozniak: iPhone Could Learn From Android. ]
Right now, nothing appears to be slowing Android's ascent, not only in the U.S., but around the world, too. Sure, Apple's iPhone 4S won it back some market share, but that's a temporary blip. Windows Phone has been available since October 2010, and has yet to earn a noticeable presence in the U.S. smartphone market. The latest numbers from Nielsen suggest it holds a 1.4% share, while Android has 46% and the iPhone has 30%.
Windows Phone has a real chance in the U.S., though, if we're to believe some industry players. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft's Windows Phone will be the third horse in the race with Apple and Google for smartphone market dominance. "There's a horse in Redmond that always suits up and always runs, and will keep running," said Cook during a media and analyst call last month.
iSuppli, too, is bullish on Windows Phone's future. It thinks Windows Phone will overtake iOS in just three years, with a higher market share by 2015.
The Lumia 710, Nokia's first Windows Phone for the U.S., went on sale through T-Mobile for $49 last month. Nokia hasn't said how many Lumia 710s it has sold to date, but it surely is relying on the flagship Lumia 900, which lands on AT&T later this year, as its true turn-around start point.
The 900 will server as a barometer for Nokia's potential in the U.S. with Windows Phone. In terms of specs, it is about the best Windows Phone device announced to date. It covers all the smartphone bases, and then some. The Lumia 900's stand-out feature is support for AT&T's LTE 4G network--it is one of the first Windows Phone device to support a 4G networking technology. The Lumia 900 includes a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack display, a 1830 mAh battery, a 1.4-GHz dual-core processor, an 8MP main camera, and a front-facing camera for video chats. The Lumia 900's design is similar to that of the N9 and the Lumia 800, and is milled from a solid block of polycarbonate. The Lumia 900 will be an exclusive device for AT&T.
If the Lumia 900 fails to catch on with U.S. buyers, it's unclear what else Nokia could do to convince Americans that its phones are worth owning.
Of course, there's always Android for Plan C.
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