Nokia phones are not coming to the United States this year but when they do in 2012 it will be a series of devices differentiated by from carrier to carrier. According to Chris Weber, the head of Nokia's North American operation, there are some tricky obstacles to rolling out in the U.S. and Nokia is working with the cellular operators to bring unique Windows Phone devices to each.
When Stephen Elop said that the U.S. would have a "product portfolio" at the end of the Nokia World keynote, what he really meant was that each device at each U.S. individual carrier will be different. Think of it in the same guise that Samsung takes with its original Galaxy S series - ubiquitous and everywhere.
Battle For Tops: Samsung v. Nokia
When it comes to device manufacturing, the two top phone makers in the world are Nokia and Samsung. Nokia sells nearly 1.1million phones (smart and feature) per day with about 365 million phones sold yearly. That is even with the recent downturn that the company has seen as its platform.
Samsung execs are gunning for Nokia's top spot and have been for the last several years. While the public battle for smartphone supremacy wages in patent courts worldwide between Apple and Samsung, it is really Samsung and Nokia that control the global cellphone market. Samsung sells well in the U.S. because it was not fickle when it came to deploying the Galaxy S. Each carrier got a differentiated version of the device made to the carriers' specifications. For instance, Sprint put WiMax and a keyboard onto its Galaxy S and called it the Epic 4G. The Captivate for AT&T was thinner and had a different form factor than the Fascinate for Verizon.
Nokia & Windows Phone Need To Take A Bite Out Of Android
To win in the U.S., Nokia needs to cast its eyes on Android. Apple is always going to be able to sell a ton of iPhones and Research In Motion's BlackBerry, theoretically, will stabilize its falling market share. So, the room for growth comes down to a battle with Google and Android.
How can Nokia do that? More or less by fighting fire with fire. There will likely be a range of devices coming to the U.S. with multiple variations per carrier. Weber said, "there are so many dynamics" at play in the U.S. market and he is right. It is his job to coordinate the different needs of the carriers and coordinate a launch date that will fit all parties agendas. Nokia is one of the first OEMs to create a dual-band radio chip to handle CDMA and GSM connections but in the U.S. that will not be enough, especially with the growth of LTE and the (remnants) of WiMax.
So, Lumia devices that will ship worldwide, the 800 and 710, will likely not be specifically Lumia. Nokia may call the AT&T version the Lumia Inferno and the Sprint variety the Lumia Tornado (names are theoretical) in the same way that Samsung differentiates the Galaxy S. An aside, the U.S. market is not going to like series numbers the way that Nokia introduces its phones worldwide. Numbers are not exciting and Nokia is doing its best to create excitement with its Windows Phone series.
It will be interesting to see if Nokia's plans work. There are Windows Phones from Samsung and HTC on every U.S. carrier and none have gained traction as of yet. That being said, Windows Phones across the carriers are pretty much all the same.
Can Nokia entice you with sexy flavors across carriers? Let us know in the comments.
Disclosure: Nokia paid for ReadWriteWeb's travel and accommodations to Nokia World 2011.