Nokia to launch cheap Windows Phone 7 handsets by 2011 end

Monday, February 21, 2011, 7:05 by Tech Correspondent

Nokia plans to rapidly turn out cheap Windows Phone 7 smartphones, said Stephen Elop, the company’s chief executive officer, at a meeting with journalists in Finland, Nokia’s home country.

The chief executive also said that Nokia has partnered with Windows Phone because the company believes it would enable Nokia to make inexpensive phones. However, the first such phone, or for that matter any Windows Phone handset from Nokia, won’t be in stores before 2012, according to the chairman of Nokia’s board; and before the end of 2011, according to Stephen Elop. Must see: Nokia WP7 concept phone photos

When Elop announced his decision to make only Windows Phone smartphones in an e-mail addressed to all Nokia employees, the company’s stock value fell by 20 percent and many employees took a day off, presumably disheartened. Elop is an ex Microsoft man and, according to the deal, while Nokia cannot use other operating systems at all, Microsoft can continue to provide WP platform for other handset makes such as Dell. Related: Dell WP7 phones and tablets

nokia wp7 phone photo

Photo: Rendering of Nokia's WP7 phones

Nokia still is the most ubiquitous smartphone brand. Its popularity, though, will probably be short lived, and not only because of more admirable makes such as Apple and Android, but rather because Windows Phone, released in mid-2010, hasn’t impressed people so far, and as is some times said, two losers don’t make a winner. Also see: Nokia plans for 2011

Elop’s e-mail to his colleagues failed to provide a logical reason why making WP7 phones only would be good for Nokia. Elop also said in an interview that Nokia received a lot of money for making this decision. He has only recently been censured for owning Microsoft stock and none of Nokia. When he was criticized, he bought Nokia stock, sold his Microsoft shares and said regulations had prevented him from doing so earlier. Suggested read: WP7 plans for 2011 include Mango update

Nevertheless, there are many who feel that the decision will be good for both Nokia and Microsoft. The chief of Sony Ericsson said he’d have been concerned if Nokia had chosen Android, and that he is relieved that it hasn’t. Sony Ericsson has released more than half a dozen Android phones so far.

Nokia, it seems, was deeply considering using Android but chose Windows Phone because Microsoft said it would let the company make changes to the OS. Some experts believe Nokia is incapable of producing a WP handset this year. The company will continue to use Symbian until the new WP handsets are ready, and will depend on WP to develop and sell millions of cheap phone in emerging markets such as India, which is among Nokia’s largest customer bases. Related: Android topples Symbian as world’s No. 1 mobile OS

To do well in the United States, another huge smartphone market where higher-end devices can be sold, experts say the company will need to make outstanding hardware, provide cloud services, and offer more subsidized handsets in association with wireless carriers, all at which Nokia has been lagging behind.

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