Bloomberg said the new Windows Phone 8 smartphones will be revealed before the expected September 12 debut of the iPhone 5, though the phones may not go on sale until later in the year.
Microsoft announced some details of Windows Phone 8 earlier this year, and Nokia shared the stage with Microsoft to voice its support for the new platform. Windows Phone 8 is based on the same source-code kernel that Microsoft's new desktop software, Windows 8, uses. It is a break with Windows Phone 7 a bit, but unifies Microsoft's mobile and desktop platforms moving forward.
While Windows Phone 8 is a significant jump for Windows smartphones, its timing isn't so good. It is primed to hit the stage at about the same time the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are expected to become available. It makes sense for Nokia to try to get out in front of the iPhone 5 if it can.
According to Bloomberg's sources, the announcement from Nokia may even come before its Nokia World event, planned for later in September. One issue that might bite Nokia in the behind, however, is the availability of Windows Phone 8. Microsoft hasn't indicated when WP8 will be released to handset makers, nor has Microsoft indicated when devices with WP8 on board should be expected to hit store shelves. Some reports have pegged WP8's arrival for late October or early November. Bloomberg said only that the WP8 devices announced by Nokia would be available before the holiday shopping season.
[ Learn five ways Microsoft is prepping its new phone platform for the enterprise. See Windows Phone 8: Ready For Business? ]
Nokia is facing many problems. One of them is low adoption of its Lumia Windows Phone devices in the United States. It is selling two different models, the Lumia 900 with AT&T and the Lumia 710 with T-Mobile. Combined sales of the two so far this year are somewhere near 500,000. Though sales of both devices have "exceeded expectations," they haven't even come close to matching the brisk sales of competing devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and Apple iPhone 4S.
It doesn't help that neither the Lumia 900 nor 710 can be updated to Windows Phone 8. Instead, both devices will settle for Windows Phone 7.8, which brings the home screen and user interface tweaks of WP8, but not the major change in underlying architecture.
The next few months are going to be tough for Nokia, no doubt. Nokia has to hope that customers will still buy its existing smartphones knowing that they won't be updated to the latest platform from Microsoft. It needs to not only announce Windows Phone 8 products as quickly as possible, but it needs to get them on store shelves yesterday.