Nokia falls after unveiling new phone
The company may have outdone itself -- and potentially the competition -- in producing its latest smartphone, but investors were not impressed.
Nokia (NOK) has unveiled its first Windows Phone 8 device: the Lumia 920. The phone is gorgeous, clever, and contains some of the most creative features ever seen in a smartphone.
If this were an Apple (AAPL) or Android phone, enthusiasts would be overjoyed by the device's Smart Shoot feature, which allows users to eliminate unwanted moving objects (such as people) before taking a picture.
But investors wanted more from Nokia, and gave the device a cool reception. The company's ADR shares were down more than 16% in afternoon trading Wednesday, and even the shares of its software partner, Microsoft (MSFT), were mostly flat. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
Tech blogs will surely praise Nokia for its advancement of augmented reality. With a feature called Nokia City Lens, users can point the device in any direction to receive real-time information for restaurants, bus stops, and other businesses. The info pops up on the screen with small, easy-to-read windows.
To power the Lumia 920, Nokia chose Qualcomm's (QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processor, which is reportedly 30% more efficient than quad-core alternatives. This will allow the device's 2000 mAh battery to last longer.
Nokia lived up to the expectation of being the first company to heavily push wireless charging. To make this as convenient as possible, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will add charging plates to its shops across the country. The plates will sit on top of tables, enabling customers to immediately and seamlessly charge their new Nokia devices. While Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a relatively small chain of coffee shops, one can only imagine what would happen if Nokia charging plates began to appear at Starbucks (SBUX).
The Lumia 920 also features a new technology called "super sensitive touch." With this element, consumers can use the device while wearing gloves.
All told, these and other features make the Lumia 920 one of the most exciting smartphones announced in 2012.
Unfortunately, Nokia may never get the credit it deserves for the aforementioned features. The company has yet to receive the level of notoriety it deserves for producing the PureView, the world's best smartphone camera. PureView technology has been integrated into the Lumia 920, which should help boost its global reach. But as a Nokia phone, there are many consumers who will never notice.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not just because consumers are biased. The Internet can be deceptive in this regard. In the real world, people are not nearly as biased toward Apple and Samsung as the media leads us to believe. However, people are trained and conditioned on prior experiences. Right now, consumers know that Apple and Samsung devices are most likely to give them what they want. Consequently, they are less interested in buying smartphones from other smartphone manufacturers, such as Research In Motion (RIMM).
Nokia is in an even worse position; the stock dropped more than 12% during the press event alone. Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche told Barron's that she blamed the decline on Nokia's "lack of any positive surprises, carrier announcements or specific launch dates."
Worldwide, the company is a renowned smartphone maker. In the United States, the company is mostly known for producing awkward devices that flopped. Nokia has shown some signs of growth, but at least one cellular carrier does not care. AT&T (T) has been doing all that it can to stop selling Nokia devices.
This is going to make it very difficult for the Lumia 920 to thrive at retail, which is really a shame -- first because the device is very impressive, and second because it would be huge if it had an Apple emblem on the back. If the aforementioned features appeared on the iPhone 5, people would proclaim it the most innovative smartphone released in years. As a Nokia device, however, it will likely be treated with the same lack of respect that has accompanied other Nokia products.
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Microsoft, ironically, is late to the party. While they came out with a phone that was usable almost 10 years ago - I had one and it wasn't horrible - they waited way too long to build a phone that was good.
Also, while Windows 8 might be good - I installed the preview and I will pass on an upgrade since I don't have a touch screen - Microsoft is still weak at forcing internal groups to build apps that have the same look and feel in a uniform way. Apple has done this in spades.
If Microsoft wants to rock and roll it will take more than a good phone. Even an awesome phone may not be enough if they don't get their act together with respect to unified apps.
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