In February, I predicted that smartphone sales would surpass feature phones within a couple quarters. Looks like I am likely wrong, as shipments already have, according to IDC. Last month the analyst firm predicted such circumstance this year, which by Q1 is sooner than anyone anticipated.
Meanwhile, something more shocking occurred turn first quarter -- my, God, when will the milestones stop? Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE pushed BlackBerry and Nokia out of the top five. Right Nokia -- the company that invented the smartphone and had, until last year, a 14 year-run as global handset leader. The worldwide phone market undergoes dramatic changes, and they're far from over.
Well, I didn't receive an invite, but based on the many reports from people who did, Nokia will host a new Lumia-outing event May 14 in London. Oh my, that's the day before Google I/O, where rumored new Nexus smartphone(s) arrive (don't believe everything you read on the Internet).
Nokia unveiled flagship phone Lumia 920 in September, and May would be pretty good time to announce a followup. Assuming the typical manufacturing and various country certification (think Federal Communications Commission) delays, a new splashy Lumia would get some breathing room post-launches for HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, while getting ahead of the next iPhone. During this week's earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said not to expect any new products until autumn.
Today, through its Beta Labs blog, Finnish maker Nokia announces a new experimental app for the Lumia Windows Phone lineup. Available only in a select number of markets, Nokia Chat for Windows Phone is designed to connect Lumia users with "friends who use Lumia, Asha, S40, and Symbian devices, and those using Yahoo! Messenger on other mobile devices and platforms".
Nokia Chat for Windows Phone is available to Lumia users in Australia, Canada, India, Nigeria, South Africa, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States. The Finnish manufacturer promises to expand availability "to more countries in the near future". So what does Nokia Chat for Windows Phone bring to the table for us Lumia users?
If you were expecting Nokia to unveil a mighty new smartphone today then you will certainly be disappointed. Two days after the company released a teaser which showcased bits of a new device, the Finnish maker simply unveiled another phone in its Asha series, dubbed Asha 210.
The highlights of the Asha 210 include a QWERTY keyboard, a 2 MP back-facing camera with a dedicated physical button, WhatsApp button, support for Facebook, Twitter and email accounts, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as support for dual-SIM in one of its two variants.
If you own a Lumia Windows Phone and don't mind fiddling with experimental software then Nokia may have something available for you in the app store, kept away from prying eyes. Through the Beta Labs website, the Finnish manufacturer gives users the ability to grab and test software that is currently under development and not yet available inside Nokia's exclusive app collection on Windows Phone.
Beta Labs is not new -- in fact it was launched last decade -- but it is frequently updated by Nokia with new software iterations and apps designed for its devices. Some of you may have even spotted news stories discussing various experimental apps for Windows Phone, so let's take a look at what you can (and should) get on your Lumia today to enrich your user experience.
I am thinking about doing one of my weird experiments, by switching to Windows Phone for 30 days. This would be cold feet for me. I asked Microsoft for a loaner in December 2011 and was promised a device but never received one. So with the exception of scattered minutes inside the local Microsoft Store, I have little experience with the platform. That's not right.
This morning, I emailed the PR person who helped me more than a year ago, but the message bounced; perhaps she moved on to another job. Meantime, while figuring out whom to contact, I have a question for those of you using Windows Phone: Why? For others choosing (or switching to) something else: Why not? Your responses will be excellent start to this journey.
Teasers are an effective way to get us all worked up over little or no specific details. "Is that a new design?" and "Who is this for?", accompanied by the obligatory "What is this?", are the sort of questions we ask ourselves when dealing with them.
One's thing's for certain -- no matter the product, from just a picture the company behind it sure gets a huge marketing boost among tech-savvy folks. And today Nokia tries to grab our attention with a teaser of its own. Spoiler alert -- it doesn't appear to be a high-end Lumia smartphone.
Fifth in a series. I'll admit it -- Nokia was a company I couldn't care less about a couple of years ago. I disliked the design, the high price and the bulkiness of its high-end smartphones, which then ran Symbian. At the time the Finnish manufacturer had the accelerator pedal mashed to the floor and was heading straight on a highway to oblivion, seemingly unwilling to steer the ship in the right direction. Android and iOS were the future and Symbian was the past. Then Nokia jumped ship to Windows Phone.
And that made a difference. As I embraced Windows Phone as my smartphone operating system of choice something happened. Nokia became interesting and appealing to me, so much so that I even bought a Lumia 920 little more than a month ago. And, to be honest, I'd never thought that one day I would own and love a Nokia smartphone. There's something about the Lumia 920 which feels right and makes the Finnish manufacturer fit perfectly into the Windows Phone picture.
Have you ever heard the saying "Better late than never"? After a string of modest (and even disappointing) quarters, Nokia's Windows Phone bet is starting to pay off as Lumia sales finally show noticeable signs of improvement.
In Q1 2013, the Finnish manufacturer managed to sell a not-so-shabby 5.6 million Lumia smartphones, roughly two-thirds of which are Windows Phone 8-based devices such as the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Lo and behold, Lumia sales even surpassed those of the low-end Asha and Symbian smartphone series, with Nokia managing to move just five million of the former and 0.5 million of the latter. Considering the price difference between Windows Phone devices and Asha and Symbian-based ones, that is impressive.
If you are in the market for a mid-range Windows Phone 8 device then the Nokia Lumia 820 should definitely make your shortlist. The smartphone is affordable, fast, responsive, looks nice and comes with the Finnish manufacturer's exclusive collection of enticing apps. Users can even personalize the appearance of the Lumia 820 by switching between different back covers of attractive colors.
In a number of ways, the Lumia 820 is closer to high-end rather than mid-range Windows Phone 8 devices. The smartphone comes with the same processor as the Lumia 920 (which explains the speed part), features support for wireless charging through optional back plates and sports an AMOLED display where black is really black and not a shade of gray. But, the Lumia 820 is not a scaled down version of the bigger Lumia 920 or any other high-end Windows Phone 8 handset.
Nokia has released new software updates for three Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and Lumia 620. This comes four weeks after the Finnish smartphone maker announced the new firmwares and detailed the included changes.
The software updates will roll out in stages over "the coming weeks" and feature different improvements and bug fixes depending on the device. The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 get the "1232.5957.1308.00xx" firmware while the Lumia 620 gets the "1030.6407.1308.00xx" update.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia unveiled its entry-level Windows Phone 8 handset -- the Lumia 520 -- which will run for $185 before any applicable taxes. And today T-Mobile announced that it will carry a branded variant of the smartphone, dubbed the Lumia 521.
Like its international sibling, the Lumia 521 comes with a 4.0-inch display, which T-Mobile says is "super sensitive, a 5MP back-facing camera with auto-focus and 720p video recording and the usual Nokia software add-ons.
AdDuplex, which touts itself as the "largest cross-promotion network for Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps", released a new monthly report which shows the Nokia Lumia 920 as the most popular Windows Phone device currently available. The handset holds a 14 percent market share among devices running Microsoft's smartphone operating system.
According to the report, the Lumia 920 dethroned the Lumia 800, "by a very small margin", for the title of the most popular Windows Phone device. The 920 was released worldwide in November 2012. The latter made its way onto the market one year earlier and also holds approximately a 14 percent market share among Windows Phone handsets, albeit slightly lower when it comes down to actual numbers.
FairSearch, a coalition comprised of 17 global businesses including Expedia, Kayak, Microsoft, Oracle, Nokia and TripAdvisor, has announced that it has filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Google, citing an "anti-competitive strategy" and consolidating "control over consumer Internet data for online advertising" in the mobile space.
FairSearch uses two reports from Strategy Analytics (SA) and eMarketer to base its claims. According to the coalition, Google exerts its dominance in the mobile operating system space with Android, which held a 68.4 percent market share in 2012 per SA, and in mobile search advertising, which eMarketer says Google dominates with a 96 percent market share.
Late last week, HERE Drive Beta disappeared from Nokia's exclusive app collection for Lumia smartphones, leaving many users stranded in the process. The issue affected new devices, as well as older phones which had been factory reset, with the Store returning a 805a0194 error when users tried to update from Nokia Drive or install HERE Drive Beta.
But lo and behold, Nokia's navigation app for Windows Phone is available to download and install from the Store once more. Users will get an updated counter in the app store tile informing them of an upgrade to HERE Drive Beta from Nokia Drive, a service which comes preinstalled on compatible Lumia devices.