Nokia's multibillion-dollar bet on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system is still in its early stages, but so far the bet is a financially losing one. Though, there are glimmers of hope.
The Finnish phone-maker reported a $1.38-billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2011 on Thursday, but the company also said that it has sold "well over 1 million Lumia devices to date."
While the Lumia sales so far don't come close to challenging heavyweights such as Apple's iPhone, which sold about 37 million units in the same three-month period, the consumer uptake is notable considering that the Lumias aren't sold in nearly as many markets as rival phones from Apple, Samsung and HTC.
The Lumia line is Nokia's first range of handsets running on the Windows Phone software, and since the series debut in October, Nokia has released just two phones — the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 — to Europe, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
Only the Lumia 710 is currently available in the U.S. The newly announced Lumia 900, a phone designed specifically for the U.S. market, is expected to hit stores as early as March. Nokia has yet to launch its Lumia phones in China or Latin America, though the company said in a statement that would happen sometime in the first six months of the year.
Overall Nokia sales fell 21% in the last three months of the year, while smartphone shipments fell 31% from a year ago. Much of Nokia's smartphone dip is attributable to the decline in popularity of phones running the company's Symbian and MeeGo operating systems as consumers have turned to Google's Android platform and the iPhone. When Nokia agreed to take on Windows Phone, it stated that it would abandon Symbian and MeeGo as well.
The company's $1.38-billion fourth quarter loss follows a profit of about $980 million a year earlier.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone sits on display inside a Nokia retail store in Helsinki, Finland. Credit: Ville Mannikko / Bloomberg
Nokia's eagerly awaited Lumia 900 might undercut rival flagship phones on price in a big way, according to new reports Wednesday.
If the rumor is true, the AT&T-exclusive smartphone would come in at about half the price of the entry-level Apple iPhone 4S and even less than half the price of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. AT&T officials declined to comment on the reports.
That's a pretty good price considering the hardware the Lumia 900 offers (I was expecting a price of about $200 but no lower than about $150).
The Lumia 900 — which I got a bit of hands-on time with at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month — features 4.3-inch touch screen with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels.
The unique-looking new Nokia will also be available with either cyan or black bodies, a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor, 512 megabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of built-in storage.
An 8-megapixel camera that can shoot up to 720p video is on back, while a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera sits above the Lumia 900's display.
So, do you think $99 is a fair price for the Lumia 900? Would $199 have been a better price? Feel free to sound off in the comments and check out our hands-on video with the Lumia 900 from CES below.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Nokia Lumia 900 in the foreground, with the Lumia 800 in the middle and an Apple iPhone 4S in the rear. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times
Imagine you are violist Lukáš Kmiť, performing a solo viola concert at an ornate synagogue in Presov, Slovakia–filling the room with your music, taking your audience on an emotional journey, when all of a sudden….
Doo dee doo doo, doo dee doo doo, doo deee doo, doo doo.
A Nokia cellphone starts ringing in the middle of the concert. Arghhhh!
What do you do? Stomp off the stage? Put down your instrument and wait for the offending sound to end? Berrate your audience for rudeness, inconsiderateness, and the ruining of a performance they presumably paid to attend?
Well, you could. Or you could simply choose to play the ringtone tune right back at the audience.
Vuhm vuhm vuhm vuhmmm, vuhm vuhm vuhm vuhmmm, vuhm vuhm vuhm vuhm vuhmmm.
Then kind of riff on it.
And that is exactly what Kmiť did. Video of the performance and the interruption is available on YouTube so you can see it for yourself. It's already logged 1.23 million views.
One note: Do not even think about trying this at the next conference you attend to see if the performer will have a similar sense of humor. If you watch the video carefully you can see that while Kmiť did intend the playing of the familiar cellphone tune as a joke, it was a joke born out of frustration and annoyance.
He's not smiling. He's angry.
Image: Screen grab from a YouTube video of Lukáš Kmiť playing the Nokia cellphone ring at a concert in Slovakia.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is again at the center of buyout rumors and this time the speculated buyer is consumer electronics giant Samsung.
Among other possible suitors believed to be interested in RIM are Nokia, Microsoft and Amazon, which sent shares in the smartphone and tablet maker up as much as 10% in December when the rumor mill was churning.
On Tuesday, after the website BGR published a story that stated Samsung was the "front runner" to purchase RIM, stock in the Canadian company rose $1.30, or 8.04%, to $17.47 per share.
"Research In Motion is currently weighing every single option it can think of in an effort to reverse a negative trend that is approaching a boiling point for investors," BGR said. "Reports that RIM is currently in talks to license its software to other vendors are accurate according to our trusted sources, though we have been told that RIM is most likely leaning toward an outright sale of one or more divisions, or even the whole company."
RIM officials were unavailable to comment on the BGR report on Tuesday.
The negative trend mentioned by BGR is a well-documented slide at RIM that didn't relent in 2011. In December, RIM recorded a $485-million loss on unsold PlayBook inventory after the tablet failed to live up to sales expectations since its launch in April. Every model of the PlayBook was also cut to $299 in a move to entice consumers.
With sales of the PlayBook slow, no wireless carriers have stepped up to offer a 3G or 4G version of the BlackBerry tablet as RIM had originally planned.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Research In Motion's senior manager of brand marketing, Jeff Gadway, discusses new BlackBerry technology in a presentation at the company's "BeBold" event at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 10. Credit: Eric Reed / AP Images for BlackBerry
The Lumia 710, Nokia's first Windows Phone to hit the U.S., barely went on sale on Jan. 11 and already Wal-Mart is undercutting other retailers by giving the new phone away for free on a two-year contract.
T-Mobile USA, which launched the phone, sells the Lumia 710 for $49.99 on a two-year data plan, as do other retailers such as Best Buy. The price drop by Wal-Mart is a fast one and it's unclear if other retailers or T-Mobile itself will follow suit.
But if we do see more price drops on the Lumia 710, they will probably be motivated in part by the pending arrival of the new Lumia 900 at AT&T, which is rumored for sometime in March. An official release date and price haven't yet been disclosed for the Lumia 900.
The Lumia 900, which made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, has a 4.3-inch display and a unique polycarbonate body.
But while the 900 packs a larger screen and a bit more style, it and the 710 are very similar on the inside, with both phones running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango on a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor and 512-megabytes of RAM.
The Lumia 710 has 8 gigabytes of built-in storage, while the Lumia 900 has 16 gigabytes. And the Lumia 710 features a 5-megapixel camera with a single-LED flash, while the Lumia 900 has an 8-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone from T-Mobile USA. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles TImes
Nokia and Microsoft's first flagship smartphone for the U.S., the Lumia 900, made its official debut at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The new Windows Phone handset was first unveiled Monday by Nokia, and later that night Microsoft brought the new phone on stage in what was the final CES keynote speech from the tech giant best known for the powerhouse Windows PC operating system.
The Lumia 900 so far has been confirmed as running only on AT&T's 4G LTE network and picks up stylistically where the Lumia 800 left off, with an attractive rounded polycarbonate body and a flat, sliced-off-looking top and bottom.
However, the Lumia 900 will have a larger screen than the Lumia 800 — up to 4.3 inches from 3.7 inches. The resolution of the display will remain 480 by 800 pixels, as is standard for all Windows Phone handsets.
The new Nokia will be offered from AT&T in either cyan or matte black and feature a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor, 512 megabytes of RAM, 16 gigabytes of built-in storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera that can shoot up to 720p video and a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera for video chatting.
The Lumia 900 will be thinner than T-Mobile's Lumia 710, a 0.45-inches-thick 4G phone I reviewed last weekend.
Nokia officials also told me at CES that the Lumia 800 is finally going to get a U.S. launch as well, but it will be sold only as an unlocked phone. That means the Lumia 800 will sell without part of the cost of the phone being eaten up by a wireless carrier's subsidy, which may put it in the $500-range, though Nokia declined to specify.
Microsoft and Nokia also had no details to offer on pricing or a release date for the Lumia 900. As soon as we can, we'll get the phone in our hands for a full review. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video from CES with both the Nokia Lumia 900 above; and photos and of the Lumia 900 and Lumia 800 after the jump.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Nokia Lumia 900 in the foreground, with the Lumia 800 in the middle and an Apple iPhone 4S in the rear. Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times
The Nokia Lumia 710 is a small, low-cost smartphone with some big, high-cost bets riding on its success.
The Lumia 710 is Nokia's first phone to hit the U.S. running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system — more specifically, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. It's also the first tangible product to hit store shelves, in this case T-Mobile stores, as a result of a deal between Nokia and Microsoft announced in February and signed in April that's reportedly worth billions of dollars.
So is the Lumia 710 a good smartphone or not? Simply put, it is. It's a simple, low-end phone, but it's a solid little phone worth your consideration if you're new to smartphones or looking for an affordable Windows Phone handset. The Lumia 710 runs $49.99 on a 2-year contract with T-Mobile starting Jan. 11.
A 3.7-inch touch screen is featured on the new Nokia, which looks good but results, disappointingly, in a bit of color distortion at extreme angles. The resolution of the screen, which is responsive and very fingerprint prone in the black colorway I tested, is 800 x 480 pixels. Video playback, apps, photos and websites all looked great on the Lumia 710.
The phone is powered by a single-core 1.4-gigahertz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, and 512 megabytes of RAM and 8 gigabytes of built-in storage are included. There is no microSD card slot for storage expansion and there is no front-facing camera for video chatting — which falls in line with the lower-end expectations the Lumia 710's price reflects. Though it should be noted that the HTC Radar 4G, which sells for the same price from T-Mobile, does include a front-facing camera.
On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with a single LED flash, which takes clear, detailed photos and can also shoot 720p video. The camera can't match the 8-megapixel shooters found on higher end smartphones, but again, the Lumia 710 isn't a high-end $200 or $300 smartphone.
The Lumia 710 was fast and performed well. I won't go too deep into Windows Phone Mango (for more on that, check out my October review of Mango), but while it isn't the most complicated or power-demanding operating system out there, the Lumia 710 handled everything I threw at it. In about two weeks of testing, I never had an app freeze or crash on me. Call quality was good with voices sounding clear and no dropped calls experienced. T-Mobile's 4G network offered up fast downloads and uploads on the Lumia 710. Battery life was also great: I consistently got a day's worth of charge, no problem.
Stylistically, the Lumia 710 is a bit plain, though not at all unattractive. The curved back plate on the phone is coated in a rubberized plastic that is grippy and comfortable to hold in the hand no matter what you're doing on the phone. The back plate is removable and Nokia is selling different colors — cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white — which thankfully can help add a bit of style.
Below the phone's display is a single piece of plastic which rises out of the face of the Lumia 710 to house three buttons: back, home and search. Many Windows Phone handsets have opted for touch-capacitive buttons and not a large physical button, but that's the way Nokia went this time around and it's unique. You may or may not like the large button, but it is an original look and one I didn't mind at all. The right side of the Lumia 710 is a volume rocker above a dedicated camera button, which responded fast when clicked. Up top is the phone's power button, headphone jack and, in another departure, USB port.
The top of the phone is a bit of a strange place for a USB port, but I actually liked this decision simply because I hadn't really seen it before. Nokia's phones will need to stand out and feel genuinely different from Samsung, HTC and others that make Windows Phone handsets.
This phone, while overall a standard and not at all groundbreaking phone, still feels different than others I've seen at this price range and I think that's a good thing. It's small choices, like the removable colored back plates, the large button on the front, and the USB port up top that give the Lumia 710 some personality.
Build quality is solid and the Lumia 710 feels like it could take some abuse and survive over the life of a two-year contract with no problems.
The Lumia 710 also has a couple of unique features on the software side, with a different color option for Windows Phone's app tiles called Nokia Blue, which looks a bit more royal than the standard blue like the Tar Heel blue worn by the University of North Carolina. Nokia apps are also another differentiator for the Lumia 710 and future Nokia Windows Phones.
The best of the included Noika apps was Nokia Drive, a turn-by-turn voice navigation app that delivered GPS directions in a clear, understandable manner. Nokia Drive also re-calibrated quickly when I went against its suggested routes.
All in all, the Nokia Lumia 710 was a phone I enjoyed using. It didn't make me want to give up my Apple iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. But unlike the Nokia Lumia 800 on sale in Europe and Asia, the Lumia 710 wasn't designed to do that. Nokia will need to release such a phone in the U.S. to justify its multibillion-dollar partnership with Microsoft.
But while there aren't a ton of bells and whistles here, this straightforward, well-built, speedy little smartphone looks like a good starting point for Nokia and Microsoft.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photos: The Nokia Lumia 710. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles Times
The entry-level phone is the first Windows Phone from Nokia in the U.S. and is targeted at the 150 million Americans who have yet to make the transition to smartphones.
The Nokia Lumia 710, capable of running on T-Mobile's 4G network, "delivers high-performance hardware, Nokia's best social and Internet experience, and access to popular smartphone applications and services from Windows Phone Marketplace," the companies said in a statement.
The phone provides one-click access services such as Netflix and also gives users access to signature Nokia experiences, including voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation.
"Windows Phone offers a compelling mobile OS choice for people who want a smartphone built around them, their family and friends," said Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA. "We expect it to play a more prominent role in our lineup and marketing efforts in 2012."
Brodman noted that the company's research showed "nearly everybody in the U.S. wants a smartphone," but many couldn't afford one.
Chris Weber, president of Nokia Americas, said the Nokia Lumia 710 was the ideal "first-time smartphone" that delivered the most compelling Windows Phone experience in its price range.
"This is the perfect first Nokia Lumia experience and the start of our reentry into the U.S. smartphone market," Weber said.
Available in a black or white finish, the Nokia Lumia 710 features a 3.7-inch scratch-resistant display and a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with Nokia's camera technology, enabling people to take pictures in almost any light and share the shot on social networks in seconds.
The Nokia Lumia 710 is scheduled to be available online and at T-Mobile retail stores, select dealers and retailers nationwide starting Jan. 11. The smartphone is expected to cost $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card, with a two-year service agreement and qualifying Classic voice-and-data plan.
– Andrea Chang
Image: Nokia's Lumia 710 smartphone. Credit: Nokia and T-Mobile
T-Mobile and Nokia are expected to announce next week that the Lumia 710 Windows Phone, and possibly the Lumia 800 as well, is headed to the U.S.
Nokia's Lumia phones are the handset maker's first devices to run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, the product of a deal between Nokia and Microsoft announced in February and signed in April that's reportedly worth billions of dollars.
The colorful new handsets are already available in Europe, but so far Nokia hasn't announced a U.S. carrier for the Lumia, despite saying that its intent is to have at least the Lumia 710 available in America by sometime next year.
Nokia hasn't yet said whether the Lumia 800 will also be available stateside. Nokia also hasn't introduced any other planned Windows Phone devices outside of the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800.
On Friday, T-Mobile sent an invitation to the press for an event in New York on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that reads "T-Mobile and Nokia have something exciting in the works. Be amongst the first to experience it."
For details on the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800, check out our previous coverage of the handsets here.
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: The Nokia Lumia 800, running Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.5 Mango operating system. Credit: Nokia
Hooman Khalili first got the idea to make a feature film shot entirely on a smartphone in January 2010. A little less than two years later, his film "Olive," shot on a Nokia N8, is going to be shown in a Los Angeles theater for a week.
That's not bad considering how hard it is for indie films to get a theatrical release these days.
But if you're thinking, "Maybe I should shoot a movie on my smartphone too," be forewarned: It's not as simple as it sounds. At least not yet.
"There was a lot of things making this nearly impossible for us," said Khalili.
The Nokia N8 shoots in high resolution, but before Khalili and his crew could start filming, they had to hack the phone to turn off the auto focus and the auto zoom.
"The camera thinks it knows what you want to focus on, but it doesn't know," he said.
They tried to pay professional camera makers to build a 35-millimeter camera that would work with the phone, but they were turned down everywhere.
Eventually Khalili and his team built what they needed from scratch, dismantling a 1940s-era movie camera to figure out how it should be done. And when it came time to attach the camera to the phone, the best they could come up with was double-sided tape.
The one overhead shot in the movie was made by putting the phone in a remote-control helicopter and hoping for the best.
Still, Khalili and his crew tried to keep the shoot as professional as possible. There were makeup artists and location scouts. Actress Gena Rowlands was involved. Khalili said the film cost less than $500,000 to make. He was hoping to get funding from Nokia but got turned down. Instead he got the cash from Chris Kelly, former chief privacy officer of Facebook.
Pre-production on "Olive" started in April of this year, and the actual shoot lasted five weeks. In order to make the deadline to submit the film to Sundance, the filmmakers edited it in nine days.
"We didn't leave room even for an accidental sick day," Khalili said. "If anything had gone wrong it would have thrown everything off."
Khalili, who is trying to raise $300,000 on Kickstarter to promote the film, is hoping to submit it for Oscar consideration. In order to do that he needed to get the film into theaters before the end of the year. On Thursday he persuaded Laemmle's Fallbrook 7 in West Hills to screen the movie for one week, beginning Dec. 16.
As for the film itself — Khalili has made the first five minutes available online. It's billed as a film about a little girl who "transforms the lives of three people without speaking one word."
– Deborah Netburn