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2/23/2012
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Nokia May Unveil Budget Windows Phones

Finnish phone maker may reveal new, low-cost devices in CEO Stephen Elop's World Mobile Congress keynote.

Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
Smartphones: Never Too Thin Or Too Organic
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Nokia intends to unveil a new line of budget Windows Phones aimed at first-time buyers and users that don't require all the bells and whistles, like dual cameras, typically found on higher-end models, according to a published report.

Bloomberg news service reported that the Finnish phone maker could unveil the devices as soon as next week, at World Mobile Congress. Bloomberg cited two, unnamed sources said to be familiar with the plans. Nokia had no official comment.

The Barcelona, Spain, gadget fest is slated to kick off Monday. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is listed as a keynote speaker, a sign that the company will have some new wares to show off.

A budget smartphone would allow to Nokia to round its portfolio of Windows Phones. Earlier this year, the company introduced the midmarket Lumia 710 and 800 models, and the higher-end Lumia 900.

Providing offerings at all price points will be key to the company's hopes of building market share through Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, to which it's porting the entirety of its smartphone portfolio.

[ What if Nokia's Windows plan fails? See Nokia And Windows Phone: No Fallback Plan. ]

One option for the company would be to offer a low-cost phone through a no-contract telecom provider such as Boost Mobile or AT&T's Go Phone line, though no such plans have been announced.

Elop, a former Microsoft exec, essentially bet Nokia's future on the Windows Phone operating system when he announced an alliance with his former employer last year. Under the deal, Nokia has ditched its Symbian OS and will use Windows Phone 7 and future Windows Phone editions to power all of its smartphones.

In return, Microsoft is funneling billions of dollars to Nokia for research and development on Windows Phone hardware. Microsoft's hope is that Nokia, by virtue of the fact that it still ships more phones worldwide than any other device maker, can use its formidable distribution networks to jumpstart market share for Windows Phone.

It could use the boost, especially in the key U.S. market. Microsoft's share of the U.S. mobile OS market stood at just 4.7% as of December, according to market watcher ComScore. Apple's iPhone iOS held 29.6%, while Google Android led the market with a share of 47.3%.

Other Mobile World Congress keynote speakers of note include ARM CEO Warrant East, Cisco CEO John Chambers, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Facebook CTO Bret Taylor. Notably absent this year is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

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