Nokia's tight Windows Phone 8 release window just got tighter

Nokia's tight Windows Phone 8 release window just got tighter

Summary: Nokia is already feeling the pressure. But for Windows Phone 8 -- the company's last short-term hope -- its already tight release window just got tighter. Enter the big dogs.

TOPICS: Nokia, Mobile OS, Windows

Nokia could -- and likely will -- announce its next wave of Windows Phone 8 devices at Nokia World in September, according to a Bloomberg report.

For Nokia, relevance is everything. Right now, it has about zilch -- and that's me saying that in a good mood. 

Screen Shot 2012-08-06 at 13.13.13
Windows Phone 8. Image credit: CNET.

September will be a busy month for the mobile market.

So far we have Samsung poised to announce "something big" for September 1 -- hopefully not its ego -- and a rumored Apple announcement pegged for September 12, where the highly-anticipated iPhone 5 will likely be paraded in front of a small, hand-picked selection of the media.

Slap bang in between the two announcements, we have Nokia pitching its latest and greatest on September 5--6, said the report citing a "person with knowledge of the matter."

(It wouldn't such a bad guess considering Nokia did exactly that last year at Nokia World 2011 in London.) Plus, the date was pushed forwards by a couple of weeks from its initial September 25-26, likely due to pressure from other manufacturers' product launches -- though this is my own personal conjecture.

Timing is absolutely crucial; it goes without saying.

Microsoft is putting a load of its eggs in the Nokia basket. The Finland-based phone maker -- (note how I no longer call it a "giant") -- sold only four million Lumia smartphones in the past quarter, say compared to Samsung selling 10 million Galaxy S III smartphones in one month -- and that was just one model. It needs to position itself at a time in the late-calendar year to park its smartphones in store shelves to reap the greatest rewards, even if the goods aren't actually that appealing.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that despite a release-to-manufacturing (RTM) timetable thought to be poised for around September, the developer SDK for Windows Phone 8 has yet to be released. Developers have already a squeezed timetable to get their apps ready for the new release, but Microsoft is hardly giving much room for manouver.

Considering the mobile operating system won't be ready until September, the likelihood of its release next month are slim-to-none. Nokia's plan: announce, but don't launch. To make matters worse, it would have to sandwich its announcement in between the two largest players in the market. 

Knuckling down: Nokia has a window of a few weeks to make a difference. Ahead of the Christmas sales where manufacturers aim to knock out a few gadgets and devices ahead of the holiday rush, Nokia is pushing for a round-about release date of mid-to-late September or early October.

The trouble is that everyone else is, too. Nokia could easily find itself drowned out in the hype and excitement of the bigger and stronger brands. Apple and Samsung continue to dominate market share rankings, and Windows Phone, despite its 277 percent growth in share in the past year, remains merely a blip on the radar. Even RIM's BlackBerry has more share than Microsoft. Symbian has more share, for crying out loud. Symbian.

As strange as it sounds, despite my little knowledge of the situation compared to Foley, Microsoft reporting legend, the closer to Windows 8's launch it can get -- the better. At least by then the hype of the iPhone may have died down, and the price factor could bridge the gap between Samsung's semi-expensive models and Apple's just-plain-expensive models. It could even slipstream off the back of Windows 8's launch -- the two operating systems share much of the same visuals -- boosting the phone's initial sales figures.

In the meantime, Nokia's third-quarter will remain "difficult, difficult, lemon difficult" (along with ZDNet's Andrew Nusca's comments, how fitting?), but whether or not Nokia is too far behind to catch up with the top dogs remains a question on many analysts' minds.

Nokia said it does "not comment on speculation," so we'll just have to sit tight, get the popcorn on, and wait for the fireworks. Nokia's next move could surprise us, or condemn itself to the pits of eternal sales damnation. 

And there goes my good mood. 

Topics: Nokia, Mobile OS, Windows

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  • Release it now.

    This article makes it seem as though the phone can not be released until the developer SDK is out. However, everything I'm reading states that the new OS will be compatable with all of the apps that were written for Windows Phone 7 and there's more than 100,000 of them. It's true that the new SDK will allow the developers to take advantage of the new hardware and API's but I don't think it would hurt to release the phone anyway. One thing that Apple does that I wish Microsoft would do is make the devices available at, or shortly after the announcement. (Microsoft should say "Ladies and gentlemen, I have here the new Nokia 920. It's completely awesome and you'll be able to get yours starting tomorrow at 12pm Pacific Time!) That won't happen though and, in the mean time, Apple will announce and then release which will create a sort of impulse buying frenzy. But instead, Microsoft announces and you have to wait a long time to get the device (Surface is a great example). That's plenty of time to think and time enough for the competition to create ads that boast about how their product is somehow better or even quickly add something to their product and release it in the time between announcement and release). It's like the movie everyone tells you is the greatest ever and then, when you finally see it, it's nowhere as good as you expected. I think it would be better to sit on it and make the announcement when it's ready to be on the shelves.
    • Clear as mud

      So you think Microsoft should release the phone now while sitting on it until it's ready to be on the shelves, even though Microsoft isn't Nokia and doesn't even make the phone?
      Robert Hahn
    • the problem is

      Nokia is stuck between the old and the new- and because of that they can't release anything until the SDK is released. Windows Phone 7.5 phones are HIGHLY restricted in what hardware they support, so any WP7.5 phone will not be able to upgrade to windows 8.

      But they cannot release a WP8 phone until the SDK is released.

      so they're stuck.
      • No they cant release the phone until the WP8 os is released. The sdk will

        be released before that but that's not important. The phone will sell fine without WP8 specific apps being available. There are plenty of great WP apps out there that will run on it. And the sdk timing isn't that big a deal. Most WP8 specific apps are well underway with the current sdk. You don't need to wait for MS to release the sdk to get 90% of the work done.
        Johnny Vegas
        • SDK, OS, tomato, tomahto

          the point is that you cannot make a phone that will run WP7.5 and WP8, it's impossible. WP7.5 does not support the hardware that WP8 does, and WP8 does not support the hardware that WP7.5 does. the hardware itself is completely NOT compatible between the two OS versions. that is why Nokia is stuck in limbo right now.
          • What's your source for these comments?

            This isn't an attack, honestly, as a Lumia 800 owner I have been longing for a definitive explanation of why the two platforms are so wildly different as to be totally incompatible. I get that 7.x can't actively support multi-cores and removable storage, but is it unthinkable that the OS will run regardless? Windows 7 will happily run on a single core CPU. Windows 98 can be installed on a multi-core CPU system (although it only utilises one core). Why couldn't something similar happen with Windows Phone?

            Again, I'm genuinely interested in hearing a comprehensive, non-BS, "It's different hardware", akin to the argument supplied not upgrade the HTC HD2 to WP7 when we all know it was more than capable.

            Will be interesting to see what the Dev community pull together over at XDA Developers when the ROMs enter the wild.
          • granted

            I don't know for sure if you can or can't put WP7.5 on W8 hardware, and just have most of the hardware not run properly.

            chances are Nokia could technically do this, but it would take so much work to get the phone to a usable state WP8 would be out before then anyway. it's probably simply not worth the time to make new WP7.5 drivers for a WP8 device at this point.
          • not to mention

            not to mention that nokia would have to pay for 2 OS licences, one for 7.5 and one for 8, if they wanted to do it that way. they'd lose a lot of money.
          • I'll take that point

            As an unofficial upgrade path, there probably would be a fee; just wish Microsoft would waive it. Urgh!

            Also, driver development issue is probably plausible too. As you say, not insurmountable, but enough work to cause doubts. You do have to wonder how much of the hardware across OEMs would be common. Suspect a combined will between OEMs could solve a lot of the issues, but they aren't gaining anything by convincing customers to not upgrade.

            Thanks for the responses.
        • RE: The phone will sell fine without WP8 specific apps being available.

          Really, WP7 devices don't sell well even with WP7 apps available ;-)
          • Sorry about the duplicate

            This new system sucks. Got an error trying to post so refresh the screen and post again only to find out it posted both time and no way to edit the post. You really need to work on your system ZD.
        • RE: The phone will sell fine without WP8 specific apps being available.

          Really, WP7 devices don't sell well even with WP7 apps available ;-)
    • First iPhone was released 6 months post initial announcement

      First generation or not well-established products are different to otherwise. First iPhone was also announced 6 months in advance of it market availability. A similar thinking may be behind the announcement of Surface by Microsoft as there is a lot they need to find out by the media reaction, competitors, partners, customers and so on. New generation of products that carry major overhauls face a huge amount of uncertainty making it an almost necessity to give them time.
      • Not really comparable

        Apple was entering a new market for them with something that for the most part the market had not seen. MS is not new to the market or offering anything the market hasn't seen overall. The MS Surface announcement was all about getting people to hold off purchasing and wait for the surface.
  • WP8 is a must buy for me

    However I haven't decided who's phone it will be. If Samsung does what I expect and launches Galaxy S3 hardware with Windows Phone 8 then Nokia will have their work cut out convincing me to go with their hardware instead.

    Additionally it's highly likely the first device to hit VZW with the new OS will be the phone I buy. I hope it's Nokia but I have no problem with a Samsung or HTC. So I agree with Zack that they need to move quickly. I certainly won't wait until April of next year for their flagship phone to release.
  • Nokia isn't doing too bad

    First of all, the Lumia 900 is doing REALLY good.
    Sure, it only sold around 330000, but that is a quarter of all non iPhone sales at AT&T. It beat out many popular models such as the Galaxy SII, One X, Atrix 2, Titan II, etc

    Also, do not ignore the 4 million. I remember as a Symbian fanboy, laughing at how the "revolutionary" iphone "only" sold in a year. After all, Nokia sells that much in a week.
    • Lumia brand more popular than Windows Phone

      I agree that Nokia is not doing so bad. The Lumia brand is already more popular than the Windows Phone brand. And Nokia brand name trumps Microsoft. So I think Microsoft will work as hard and fast as they can to support their best chance for success in the market.
      See search graphs:
      • Nokia Lumia vs Windows Phone

        You mean the hardware is more popular than the OS? I'm confused.
        a hobbit
  • Did you know?

    Well, I came back to this article again to read some of the responses and guess what? Somebody has deleted all the comments criticizing this article. None of the deleted comments were offensive.
    • Gone in a flash

      I paid some Chinese guy from Baidu to come in here and delete any post that looked like it was from a Munchkin.
      Robert Hahn