Marking a Major Milestone in an Eventful Year

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jo Harlow, executive vice president, Smart Devices, at Nokia.

Today, the Nokia Lumia 900 goes on sale in thousands of AT&T stores around the U.S. As many media have already commented, this is a major milestone for Nokia, for our partnership with Microsoft and for the Windows Phone ecosystem.

There have been many milestone moments in the last 12 months.

Toward the end of this month, we celebrate one year since the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft, first announced in February 2011, was signed. In that time, we launched our first two Lumia phones, the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710, at Nokia World in October. We have since rolled those two products out to 42 countries around the world. Each country launch was a milestone in itself since it brought both Lumia and Windows Phone to many countries for the first time. When you see the crowds and the smiling faces at these launches, you quickly realize how much people welcome a different kind of smartphone and a different kind of approach. However, there is no question that two of the most highly anticipated launches we have conducted were the U.S. launch and the launch in China.

In the U.S., we first introduced Lumia with the Nokia Lumia 710 on T-Mobile USA. The response has been encouraging. This was billed as a U.S. re-entry for Nokia, and it seems we were right to start by targeting the 150 million people in America who were still to purchase a smartphone. The Lumia 710 is perfect for someone who wants a no-nonsense smartphone, but still wants great performance and access to the same smartphone experiences enjoyed on high-end phones.

Now comes the Nokia Lumia 900 with AT&T, designed for a different type of user – someone who wants a larger screen and a rich content experience, but still wants something that looks and feels different to the legions of monochromatic smartphones cluttering shelves. This is our first LTE phone and it is the result of early collaboration with Microsoft to bring LTE to the Windows Phone platform.

Creative and constructive collaboration has epitomized our relationship with Microsoft. Nokia came late to the Mango party, but thanks to Microsoft’s help, we were able to get two phones to market before the end of the year (when I promised one at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, I have to admit I thought I had a challenge on my hands – two was a sign of the great engineering talent and enthusiasm we have at both companies). It was also early collaboration and prioritization that led Microsoft to deliver an update to Windows Phone that brought support for lower price points and for China technology variants and language requirements. That in turn made it possible for Nokia to launch the Lumia 610, our fourth and most affordable Lumia smartphone, as well as to launch in China, where we plan to start selling phones very soon.

The significance of these last two announcements should not be underestimated. We hope that the Nokia Lumia 610 will provide a bridge for many people to buy their first smartphone and for that first smartphone to be a Windows Phone. According to market analysts, China is already the largest smartphone market in the world and is growing fast. Nokia’s policy has been that we will not launch phones in a market until we can provide adequate apps, care service and warranty support, so getting Chinese language support for Windows Phone was critical since China has been Nokia’s largest market for years.

But it is not only Nokia that benefits. Other manufacturers have also announced phones that would not have been possible without support for lower price points and the Chinese language. Our hope is that others will do the same, continuing to make better and more interesting phones so that even more people switch to Windows Phone, and even more mobile operators and developers invest in the platform just as T-Mobile, AT&T and China Telecom have done. The end result would be an even more compelling ecosystem for all of us.

This is only the start of the journey and we still have a long way to go before we start claiming victory. We continue working closely with Microsoft, identifying the priorities for the platform and for the ecosystem. At Nokia, we continue to focus on making great phones and to carrying the Windows Phone experience to more people around the world. We are realistic about the challenges ahead, but these are exciting times and we are thrilled that only one year after signing our agreement with Microsoft, we find ourselves in this situation, launching new products into the U.S. with great partners behind us and new possibilities ahead.