Nokia Challenges Apple and Google

While analysts have been speculating for months about whether Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) new Lumia smartphones will be able to restore the company’s dominant position in the global mobile-device market, the time for conjectures is drawing to a close.

The struggling mobile phone manufacturer will release its Windows 8-powered Lumia devices to electronics retailers and telecom operators in France and the United Kingdom this week, and in November the phones will go on sale in the United States, Russia, Germany, and other selected markets.

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“We will launch in most markets [where] we have announced this [product’s availability] before Thanksgiving,” said Nokia’s sales chief, Chris Weber, to the Wall Street Journal.

According to Weber, the amount of money spent on marketing the devices, which includes dollars from Nokia, telecom operators, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), will be greater than the amount spent in any of its previous launches.

Nokia has a key sales strategy already in place for the phone in the United States: its pricing. The Lumia 822, which will be exclusively sold by the wireless carrier Verizon (NYSE:VZ), has been priced at $99 on a two-year contract, considerably lower than Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) $199 iPhone 5 or Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) similarly priced Galaxy S III.

With previous phones, Nokia worked primarily with AT&T (NYSE:T). Its former flagship phone, the Lumia 900, was sold almost exclusively through that carrier, and its sales were dismal. In the third quarter, Nokia sold only 300,000 devices in North America. However, for its new line of phones, Nokia has chosen a wider selection of carriers. In addition to Verizon, AT&T is slated to carry the company’s flagship, high-end Lumia 920 exclusively, and Deutsche Telekom’s (DTEGY.PK) T-Mobile will carry the Lumia 810.

Microsoft has a critical stake in the success of the Lumia phones as well. The Wall Street Journal reported that the devices are a “a key part of Microsoft’s attempt to run with Apple and Google in a smartphone operating system battle that is heated.” The company is hoping that Nokia’s Lumia can boost the appeal of Windows 8. But Nokia is not Microsoft’s only bet; HTC, Samsung, and Huawei Technologies have announced that they will also sell devices running the new operating system.

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