Archive for the ‘Nokia’ Category

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Nokia has added another device to its burgeoning
Lumia portfolio of smartphones today, with the
introduction of the Lumia 925: a sleek, PureView-
branded handset that will be its first flagship on T-
Mobile U.S. At today’s London launch, Nokia
executive VP of smart devices, Jo Harlow, sat down with TechCrunch to field a few questions. TC: Despite all the focus on your camera
technologies with the flagship Lumia devices,
Windows Phone still lacks Instagram. How much
of a blocker is that, what are you doing to get
round it and why is it proving so difficult to get
this app? Harlow: Obviously our goal is to brings great apps to the Windows Phone platform. We have a huge
amount of respect for Instagram and we continue to
work in that direction and in particular with Microsoft,
and with apps like Hipstamatic and the ability to share
your pictures on Instagram. But the importance of
Hipstamatic isn’t Instagram really — it is the great capabilities that Hipstamatic brings and the
community that Oggl represents because they’re a
community of people who love photography. And so I
think in inspiring that world of consumers then that
brings attration from others as well. I would characterise the competition in
Android as more of a spec race than
anything else… it’s open but that doesn’t
make you first. We worked very closely with Hipstamatic and shared
our portfolio with them, we’ve shared our imaging
APIs with them, and that’s where we’d like to work
with the developers who can bring even more greate
experience to our imaging story. TC: Are you going to be helping to usher in more
new camera apps like Oggl or make more of your
own new imaging apps? Harlow: The first thing we’ve done is make our imaging APIs accessible to developers — whether
they’re developing imaging specific apps or in other
ways could use the camera in their app — that they
could get all the way to the performance of the
camera itself. If you look at what’s happened with
photography with mobile devices and just how we use pictures you see that what is today is unlikely to be
just what is in the future. It’s constantly evolving —
now hundreds of millions of pictures are uploaded
every day just to social networks. Yes there are
imaging specific apps, and there will be more imaging
specific apps and communities in the future, but all communities have a deep relationship with pictures
because that’s part of the social fabric of our lives
these days. And I dont think that changes, that only
gets bigger and bigger. TC: Is the original 808 PureView 41MP
technology a bit of a unicorn now with the
Lumias? Or are you working toward it with each
iteration of the devices? Or is this something that
you think you might never have because you’re
going for thinner devices? Harlow: I can’t comment about our portfolio coming in the future, but what I will say about the PureView
technology that we developed that uses a 41MP
sensor is that it delivers a consumer experience in
terms of zooming after you’ve taken the photo. That
is a phenomenal experience. That’s something that
we think is very interesting to continue to pursue. TC: So you’re not ruling it out? Harlow: I’m not ruling it out. TC: You talk about how you have been able to
differentiate on Windows Phone — with hardware
design, camera technology and so on — but why
couldn’t you have done that on the Android
platform? The reality is that Android is dominant,
and Windows Phone is very far behind. Harlow: The dominance of Android is led by Samsung. I think you can see the difficulty that
others have in standing out from Samsung even when
they have really good devices. I think first of all it
comes down to partnership and the partnership that
we’ve had with Microsoft in terms of bringing new
experiences to the platform as well as our own differentiating experiences. We did not believe we
could have that level of partnership with Android —
and that’s a key difference. TC: But Android is open. You can do what you
want… Harlow: To a certain degree yes. But I think I would characterise the competition in Android as more of a
spec race than anything else and so there is one
partner who is the development partner for any new
release of Android and everyone else come some
time later, so it’s open but that doesn’t make you first
and that doesn’t make you necessarily the most competitive. TC: I know you can’t comment on future roadmap,
but what could Nokia bring to a phablet device,
i.e. a larger form factor smartphone, if it decided
to play in that space? Harlow: I think the word is ‘experiences’ because as we are investing in great experiences on our
smartphone range it’s logical to think that those
experiences we would look to take into other types of
form factors and make them compatible with each
other. Obviously what we would want in any portfolio
is that there’s some consistency in the experience that consumers have of a Nokia product.

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Meet the Lumia 925, the latest smartphone flagship in
Nokia’s increasingly populous Windows Phone
portfolio. The 925 is clearly Nokia’s answer to
criticisms of its high end devices being too heavy. At
the device’s London launch earlier today, Vodafone’s
Patrick Chomet – brought onstage to talk up the new Lumia which the carrier will be ranging in Europe —
couldn’t avoid commenting negatively on the Lumia
920’s weight. For all the noise about the 925’s
camera, its less hefty hardware is the key design
difference here. The 925 drops a full 46g compared to the earlier
Lumia 920, weighing in at 139g vs the 920’s hefty
185g. The phone feels pleasingly light in the hand,
helped by its slender profile: it’s just 8.5mm thick at
its thickest point (vs 10.7mm for the 920). In order to
achieve a sleeker, lighter device, yet keep the 4.5- inch display, Nokia has dropped built-in wireless
charging – but it’s not ditching the tech entirely. It has
included wireless charging as an add-on via clip-on
shells – likely sold separately — which increase the
thickness of the 925 by a few millimetres but don’t
appear to add too much weight back on. It’s a compromise but one that results in a sleeker,
more attractive handset out of the box. If it’s a choice
between wireless charging – which remains
something of a gimmick — or a lightweight phone,
most people would opt for the latter. And that’s a
calculation Nokia has clearly made with the 925. The handset design also takes a few steps in a new
direction for the Lumia range, with aluminium edging
running around its four sides – a band which doubles
as the phone’s antenna – coupled with a
polycarbonate back. The two-tone look and feel is a
definite departure for Nokia’s high end phone design. Colour options are also more subtle, with the black
version having anodized, almost charcoal looking
aluminium edging, while the white 925 has silver
edges. There’s also a grey colourway. The trademark
bright Lumia colours are reserved for the wireless
charging shells — including red, yellow and cyan. The PureView-branded 8.7MP camera on the 925 is
the other big focus here. The hardware introduces a
sixth lens to the device, which Nokia says improves
performance in bright sunlight. This is in addition to
strong low-light capabilities, which it has touted on its
other Lumia flagships – including most recently the Lumia 928. During the 925 launch Nokia demoed both the low and
bright-light photography capabilities of the phone,
inviting the press to compare the shots with photos
taken on their own smartphones. The Lumia 925
came off as better at snapping in the dark than
iPhones, the BlackBerry Z10, the HTC One and even the Lumia 920, pulling a brighter, more colourful
image from out of the gloom. It also appeared to
capture more detail in strong light conditions in
Nokia’s test conditions. As well as the extra hardware lens, the 925 includes a
new suite of camera-editing software called Nokia
Smart Camera. This makes use of a burst mode that
takes 10 photos at around 5MP each. It then offers a
series of image-manipulation options to enhance the
photo. Some of these features were a little hit and miss under the press launch lighting conditions.
Others looked a little gimmicky, such as the ability to
composite a series of movements into one shot. But
others seemed like they could be genuinely useful,
such as a feature that allows you to create the best
shot by choosing from various facial expressions — much like the timeshift feature on the BlackBerry
Z10/Q10. Or another that lets you remove a moving
object from an image, such as a person or car
passing in front of the scene you’re trying to shoot. The Smart Camera software won’t be exclusive to the
Lumia 925 for long – Nokia said it will be pushed out
to other Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices as an
update in Q3. But for the moment, the Lumia 925 has
the lion’s share of Nokia’s camera creativity, including
some new features in its Creative Studio image editing app, such as a tilt shift and radial focus. And
the Oggl app. One more new software addition in the 925′s screen
settings allows users to tweak the colour saturation
and temperature of the AMOLED screen to dial down
how poppingly bright the colours are and opt for more
muted, photo-realistic tones if you desire. Elsewhere,
this is a business-as-usual Windows Phone 8 device loaded with the usual suite of Microsoft and Nokia
apps, which include its HERE mapping and location
apps and Nokia Music. It is also skinned with the new
more flexible Windows Phone homescreen that allows
for three different-sized live tiles. The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon chip powering the
Lumia 925 doesn’t sound that beefy, considering the
proliferation of quad-core phones in the Android
ecosystem at least, but it’s as top-of-the range as
Windows Phone gets right now. And Nokia argues
that no more processing clout is required to do all of the image processing going on under the 925′s hood.

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Nokia has run a TV advert teasing a new Lumia
device it’s widely expected to unveil at an event in
London on Tuesday. The advert ran during a prime
time evening slot on Channel 4, during a screening of
The Inbetweeners movie. The teaser advert focused
on the camera of an unnamed new Lumia smartphone, with close up shots of the lens and
flash, and the words “more than your eyes can see”
and “the new Nokia Lumia is coming”. Nokia sent out invites to “see what’s next” as “the
Lumia story continues” last month, ahead of the May
14th event. Last week the mobile maker unveiled a
new flagship smartphone for the U.S. on Verizon,
unboxing the Lumia 928 — a device that had been
widely leaked ahead of its official launch, including by Nokia who published a camera comparison with the
Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5. It also took the wraps off an
update to its Asha range: the Series 40-based $99
Asha 501 is the first device to run Nokia’s new Asha
touchscreen UI. With recent updates at both the bottom and top of its
mobile ranges, speculation about what it will show at
Tuesday’s event has run the gamut from the
rumoured ‘true PureView’ EOS device, to its first
phablet and possibly even the long rumoured leap
(back) into tablets. Judging by today’s teaser the EOS device looks to be the most likely candidate for
unboxing on Tuesday. As well as the camera lens, the teaser appeared to
show a device with metallic trim or a metal casing.
The EOS device has previously been rumoured to
have an aluminium casing, rather than the
polycarbonate/plastic Nokia has used on all other
Lumias to-date. Nokia’s original PureView smartphone, the Symbian-
based 808 PureView, had a 41 megapixel camera —
something Nokia has not recreated on its Lumia
Windows Phone-based line, despite repurposing the
PureView branding for its flagship 920. It will certainly
be interesting to see where Nokia takes the Windows Phone lens next, and whether it can bring the full
41MP PureView experience to the platform. Update: Nokia’s camera teaser was followed in the second ad break by a lengthy Vodafone iPhone ad,
focusing on the iPhone’s camera and various camera
apps. Someone in the Channel 4 ad sales department
has clearly been busy.

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Nokia has given its Series 40-based range of
touchscreen Asha smartphones another push to try to
keep up with the low end reach of Google’s Android
platform today. The mobile maker has announced a
new addition to the range — the Asha 501 (pictured
left & below) — which also ushers in a new version of the Asha touch UI that’s designed to be quicker and
slicker, and has a focus on swiping gestures to make
it feel more fluid. The three-inch capacitive screen Asha 501, which
has Wi-Fi but no 3G and costs $99 before taxes &
subsidies, is expected to start shipping in June, via
some 60 carriers in more than 90 countries worldwide.
Nokia’s Asha range typically targets emerging
markets in Africa, Asia and South America but Asha devices have also been ranged in Europe. Although Nokia has retired its other in-house platform
Symbian, to concentrate its smartphone efforts on
Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, it has continued to
expand its portfolio of low end Android alternative
S40-based devices — adding in a variety of new
hardware and software features to devices in the range, including full Qwerty keyboards; dedicated
keys for Facebook/WhatsApp; refreshed industrial
design; its Bluetooth sharing technology Slam; its
Xpress browser to lighten the data consumption load;
preloaded social networking apps; free games
downloads; and a focus on long battery life. But keeping up with low end Androids also means
improving Asha’s usability — and that’s what its
latest platform refresh is all about. The Asha 501 is
in fact the first fruit of Nokia’s 2012 acquisition of
Smarterphone, a Norwegian company that made
mobile OSes for feature phones designed to give them smartphone looks and capabilities. Nokia said the new Asha platform is faster and more
responsive. It also introduces a touchscreen UI
refresh — with a dual homescreen view: the Home
screen is a “traditional icon-based view for launching
individual apps or accessing a specific feature”, while
the new Fastlane view changes based on device usage, showing things like “recently accessed
contacts, social networks and apps”. Fastlane “provides a record of how the phone is used,
giving people a glimpse of their past, present and
future activity, and helping them multi-task by
providing easy access to their favorite features”,
according to Nokia’s press release. The feature
sounds a lot like certain portions of Motorola’s Android skinning software — such as the widgets
deployed on 2012 devices like the Motorola
Motosmart. The overall idea of the design refresh is to make it
easier for Asha users to get to the apps and features
they’re after, according to Nokia – with the two main
screens accessible by a “simple swipe”. ”Fastlane is
integral to the whole Nokia Asha 501 experience, but
so is the ‘swipe’ motion,” a spokeswoman told TechCrunch. “With swipe as you experience it on the
device, we were able to make optimal use of screen
space, so you see just what you need. You swipe to
everything else, including pull-down menus and of
course, Fastlane. The whole user experience is faster
and more responsive.” New Asha, New Apps So what about apps? The new Asha platform does
require developers to rework apps for it — either by
writing them afresh or porting them over. Which does
mean Nokia is pushing the reset button yet again, but
the company would probably argue that at this price
point with these price-conscious consumers, users aren’t expecting hoards of apps — just select key
apps. It’s also added in-app purchases to the new
Asha platform, offering developers a new way to
monetise Asha apps, along with its Nokia Advertising
Exchange and carrier billing network. “A good percentage of existing apps can be ported to
the new platform,” said Nokia’s spokeswoman. “We
already have many developers working on this. Going
forward and with the new Nokia Asha Software
Development Kit, developers can write an app once,
and it will be compatible with future devices also built on the new Asha platform, with no need to re-write
code.” Apps that are already available for the new Nokia
Asha platform include CNN, eBuddy, ESPN,
Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Nimbuzz,
Pictelligent, The Weather Channel, Twitter, WeChat,
World of Red Bull and games from Electronic Arts,
Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco Bandai and Reliance Games. Nokia said its HERE location software will
also be available as a download, starting in Q3 this
year — and will “initially include basic mapping
services”. Messaging giant WhatsApp is noticeably absent from
the list but Nokia’s spokeswoman suggested that
may change in future, noting: “WhatsApp and other
key partners continue to explore new Asha.” In select markets, certain carriers are also offering
data-free access to apps including the Facebook app
and mobile website on the 501 for a limited time,
offering another hook for the target cost-conscious
consumers. The 501 comes preloaded with Nokia’s cloud-based
data compressing Xpress browser. Nokia has also
created a new web app, called Nokia Xpress Now,
which ”recommends content based on location,
preferences and trending topics”. It said this will be
available via the Browser homepage or as a download from the Nokia Store. “Nokia has surpassed expectations of what’s
achievable in the sub-100 USD phone category with a
new Asha handset that is unlike any other, with
design cues from Lumia and a mix of features,
services and affordability that is valued by price-
conscious buyers,” said Neil Mawston, executive director, Global Wireless Practice, Strategy Analytics,
in a supporting statement. Commenting on the launch via Twitter, Gartner
analyst Carolina Milanesi added: “Asha 501 shows
what you can achieve when you design bottom up
rather than strip down features to hit the right price
point. “Asha 501 Dual SIM with hot swap very important to
users but what is most striking on this device is the
user interface.” The full device specifications for the Asha 501 are as
follows: Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm; 98 grams Camera: 3.2 MP Single SIM standby time: up to 48 days Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days Talk time: up to 17 hours Additional memory of 4GB (card included in box),
expandable up to 32GB Forty free EA Games worth €75 downloadable from
Nokia Store Available colours: Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan,
Yellow, White and Black Suggested pricing is 99 USD before taxes and
subsidies.

20130507-225108.jpg Nokia’s newly-appointed general manager of China,
Erik Bertman, has plenty of experience in emerging
markets, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to reverse the
Finnish company’s rapid loss of market share in the
world’s largest smartphone market. Bertman will takeover the position on June 1. He
succeeds Gustavo Eichelmann, who is leaving Nokia
and returning to the U.K. for personal reasons,
according to the company. In a statement, Nokia said
Bertman was appointed to lead operations in China
because “he has achieved good results in a number of important markets” and has experience leading
cross-cultural teams. Originally from Sweden, Bertman previously served
as the regional lead of Nokia Russia, where he
oversaw sales and marketing. His experience with the
company also includes a stint as financial officer in
the sub-Saharan Africa region. Bertman arrived in
China in 2009. Despite his experience in emerging markets, Bertman
has a lot of work to do if he wants to turn around
Nokia’s fortunes in China. The company’s market
share in that country underwent a dramatic decline in
2012 as it failed to weather competition from
Samsung. The Finnish company slipped to number seven in
overall sales in 2012, with 3.7 percent market share,
compared to the 29.9 percent chunk it held in 2011,
according to Strategy Analytics. It’s rapid descent
was mirrored by Samsung’s quick rise to the top–the
Korean tech giant nearly tripled its China sales in 2012, selling 30.06 million smartphones, up from 10.9
million handsets a year earlier. Samsung now holds a
17.7 percent market share in China. Furthermore, Nokia has had three people leading its
China operations in as many years: Deng Yuan-yun,
Liang Yu-mei and Eichelmann. The position’s rotating
door may be a sign that the company is unsure of its
strategy in that region. A turnaround in emerging markets is crucial for
Nokia’s survival because North America has been the
company’s weakest market for sometime. Last
month, Nokia reported $334 million in sales in Greater
China, down 56 percent from a year ago, a figure that
puts it just above North America in terms of market size for the company. Nokia’s dramatic decline in China comes despite its
efforts to hold on to its former dominance in the
market with low-cost the launch of the Nokia Lumia
800C in March 2012. The device was the first CDMA
Windows Phone in the country, but it failed to gain
enough traction to compete against inexpensive Android handsets.