Nokia Windows Phone handsets not likely in the US until next year

Nokia logoEver since the partnership between Nokia and Microsoft was announced, 2012 was positioned as the "real" launch year for Nokia handsets with Windows Phone, with only limited availability in 2011. The limits of that availability are now becoming clearer: Nokia's first Windows Phone handsets are unlikely to reach the US until 2012, according to a briefing document seen by AdAge. The company has a planned marketing spend in Europe, but is still trying to find an advertising agency in the US.

The first Nokia handset—or possibly handsets—will be unveiled at Nokia World in London this week. One design, codenamed Sea Ray, leaked in June; this model appears to be a Windows Phone clone of Nokia's MeeGo-Harmattan-powered N9, and according to leaked PR material will be branded the Nokia 800 when it launches.

In its earnings call last week, Nokia said that its initial Windows Phone launch will be in "select countries." The lack of US advertising agency makes it improbable that the US is one of those markets selected. One country that that has been "selected" is the UK: teaser advertisements for the Nokia 800 started airing over the weekend.

The US has traditionally been a weak market for Nokia, so the decision to launch in the EU first is not altogether surprising, as the market is likely to be more receptive to the company's latest offering. The downside is, the Windows Phone experience works best in the US, as currently, only the US has the full set of online services, including interior maps, music and video purchases, and speech recognition. The service availability has improved with the release of Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango," and it should improve further as the Nokia partnership yields results. In particular, data from Nokia's Navteq subsidiary should allow for improved mapping and route planning, and allow a greatly expanded database of places of interest.

Waiting until 2012 to launch Nokia's Windows Phone handsets in the US also means that the platform will miss out on the all-important holiday season. That, in turn, means missing out on attractive, eye-catching handsets—precisely the kind of thing that Microsoft is trusting Nokia to bring to the Windows Phone market.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: mobile phones, Nokia, Windows Phone 7

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