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Nokia CEO takes aim at Android

Published: February 29, 2012 | 1:26 pm
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Stephen Elop says there is growing excitement for its products, particularly from the carriers that have seen its full road map.

BARCELONA, Spain–Nokia CEO Stephen Elop isn’t shy about who he’s going after with his Lumia Windows Phones. He has his sights set directly on Android.
“Our focus is on competing with Android,” Elop said during a keynote address at the Mobile World Congress show here today. “We want to bring them to Lumia.”
Elop struck a bullish tone when talking about the opportunities with and excitement about the Windows Phone platform. Nokia and Microsoft have each made their bets that their combined heft will be able to lift the two out of their respective mobile slumps and allow each to regain relevancy in the smartphone business.
The carriers, which have seen Nokia’s fuller product road map, are have expressed confidence about the prospects for Windows Phone, Elop said.
With Android so fragmented, Nokia has a chance to take market share away from various segments of the operating system. It’s interesting that he didn’t mention taking some of Research In Motion’s business, which has seen its own share fall amid competition from Android and Apple.

Nokia faces significant challenges. The world’s largest handset manufacturer took a hit with its brand and the perception that it can still deliver a quality phone. It has designs on big markets such as the U.S., where it has traditionally struggled. It also faces entrenched competitors in Apple and a slew of Android vendors.
Nokia recently reported that it had sold 1 million Lumia smartphones since its launch, a number some worried represented a slow start for the company. But Elop warned against comparing its early performance with that of an established platform like Android.
“We’re starting from a base with Windows Phone,” Elop said. “We have to build from there.”

He added that the company is seeing steady growth, and that in the U.S., the Lumia 710, which launched with T-Mobile USA earlier this year, had exceeded expectations.
Nokia is focused on a “consistent pattern of breathtaking innovation,” Elop said, adding that the company is also accelerating the pace of innovation and development.
The company has a chance to kick-start the adoption of Windows Phone with its newly unveiled Lumia 610, a phone that will cost 189 euros ($254) without a subsidy. That means a carrier could give the phone away with a service contract. In the emerging markets, where Nokia has traditionally been strong, the Lumia 610 could see high interest.
Elop said the Lumia 610 is also an ideal phone for first-time smartphone buyers.
HTC CEO Peter Chou, who made his keynote address before Elop and participated in a question-and-answer session with Elop and Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, said that while they’re competitors, HTC and Nokia also have a common interest in nurturing the Microsoft ecosystem.
“I believe [Windows Phone] will catch up,” Chou said, although he hedged a bit when asked if it would be on par with Android or iOS.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not a fortune teller.”


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