Nokia counting on its Collection apps to help sell Windows Phones

Nokia is relying on its free 'Collection' apps to provide Lumia users with a differentiated and updated Windows Phone platform.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Nokia is planning to continue to beef up its own app collection for its Lumia Windows Phones as a way to change the application conversation from quantity to quality.

That's according to Chris Weber, President of Nokia U.S., who was on hand for Nokia's April 6 Times Square party celebrating the launch of the Lumia 900 in the U.S.

"The Nokia Collection will really differentiate us in a big way," Weber told me during a one-on-one ahead of the Nokia-sponsored mini concert by Nicki Minaj on Friday night. "The idea is let's bring a differentiated experience... It's more about having the better apps on Windows Phone."

There are eleven apps in the Nokia Collection at present. WindowsObserver.com has the full list, which includes Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps, Nokia Transit, and some third-party apps like CNN and Univision. Nokia is making the Collection available for free to Lumia handset users. Nokia is planning to continue to add to the Collection. A reading app, known as Nokia Reading, is expected to debut in the coming weeks/months.

Nokia and AT&T officially (and puzzlingly) launched the Lumia 900 on April 8, Easter Sunday, a day when many AT&T stores were closed. On April 9, Nokia, AT&T and Microsoft are turning up the promo volume with a "Free Time Machine" events in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

There are two primary target audiences for the Lumia 900s, Weber said: First-time smartphone users who will be attracted to the $99 price tage; and switchers, meaning "people who haven't had great experiences on any (phone) platform," in Weber's words.

Weber emphasized the dual consumer and business appeal of the Lumia 900s, noting that it provides rights-protected access to corporate mail; full fidelity Office document access; Lync unified communications; and the ability to connect to SharePoint without a VPN. He said his e-mail inbox is full of requests for phones from CIOs and business users he knew from his days at Microsoft. Those who already use Windows and other Microsoft products are a natural audience for the Lumia phones, Weber said.

I asked Weber whether he's hearing business and/or consumer customers ask whether the Lumia 900s will be able to run the Windows Phone 8 operating system when Microsoft releases it later this year. He declined to answer, claiming Microsoft itself has yet to disclose any particulars about the "Apollo" platform. (Microsoft has just started talking publicly about Apollo, and has shared privately its plans for Windows Phone 8 operating system due out later this year.)

Weber did say that "We know the importance of keeping the platform fresh." He said one way Nokia will do this is by continuing to deliver "unique" apps.

Nokia is expected to launch the Lumia 900 in the UK possibly later this month, and to take it to other countries this year, as well.

In other Windows Phone news, the HTC Titan II also is available on AT&T, as of April 8. And it seems Verizon is readying a Windows Phone update for the HTC Trophy devices that includes the disappearing keyboard fix among other patches. Still no word on when Verizon plans to push it to us Trophy users, however.

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