(By Sven Grundberg and Rory Jones)
“Nokia’s tablet, dubbed Lumia 2520, is equipped with a 10-inch screen and will run Windows RT, a special version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system that only works on devices with processors designed by ARM Holdings. It has features that the Surface doesn’t have, including LTE technology that makes Internet accessibility and data connectivity far easier and faster. The $499 Lumia 2520 also comes in multiple colors and has a keyboard accessory that adds up to five hours of extra battery life.“
Nokia Corp. took the wraps off its first tablet device and a pair of supersize smartphones, representing one of the latest attempts by the company to better compete with Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. in the months before its handset business is acquired by Microsoft Corp.
The new products were the cornerstones of an event for telecom operators, suppliers and other constituents in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Nokia also launched three models priced under $100 to its more basic Asha line of mobile phones.
Most of the equipment should be on shelves in time for the coming holiday-season sales rush. Apple executives also held their annual preholidays gadget event Tuesday.
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Nokia’s event isn’t only significant for the Finnish company. It is also an important steppingstone for Microsoft executives scrambling to improve the U.S. company’s performance when it comes to hardware. The second version of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, which fell short of expectations during its first year on the market, also goes on sale Tuesday.
Last month, Microsoft announced it will pay about $7 billion for the once -dominant Nokia handset business. The unit has gradually lost market share to Apple, Samsung and a number of Chinese consumer-electronics companies.
To date, most of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones have been comparable in screen size to Apple’s iPhone, and Nokia has emphasized high-end camera features and sleek design as selling points.
Now the lineup includes a tablet device that could be a replacement for people’s laptop computers, and two supersize smartphones with six-inch screens that will compete in a lucrative “phablet” market currently dominated by South Korea’s Samsung. Phablets function like phones, but are closer in size to a tablet than the conventional handset.
Lumias run exclusively on Microsoft’s mobile software, and have been the best-selling Windows handsets since they hit the market more than 18 months ago. While still a fraction of Samsung shipments, Lumia sales have grown for four straight quarters and eclipsed the 8 million sales mark in the June-through-September period.
Microsoft’s foray into mobile software, however, has been disappointing and the poor performance is under a spotlight amid sluggish demand for personal computers, the lifeblood the Redmond, Wash., company’s revenue.
Shipments of tablets are expected to grow more than 50% this year, reaching 184 million units, according to Gartner, a research firm. Less than 2% of these tablets will be running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS each have approximately 49% market share, the firm said.
Nokia’s tablet, dubbed Lumia 2520, is equipped with a 10-inch screen and will run Windows RT, a special version of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system that only works on devices with processors designed by ARM Holdings. It has features that the Surface doesn’t have, including LTE technology that makes Internet accessibility and data connectivity far easier and faster. The $499 Lumia 2520 also comes in multiple colors and has a keyboard accessory that adds up to five hours of extra battery life.
The two phablets, meanwhile, are intended to appeal to both premium buyers and bargain seekers in emerging markets. Samsung is widely considered to have launched the phablet market in 2011 when it introduced the Galaxy Note range.
The more expensive of Nokia’s supersize smartphones—the Lumia 1520—is equipped with a high-end camera and will start to ship this quarter with a price of $750. The Lumia 1320 has fewer features and a lower-resolution screen, but comes at less than half the price. Nokia said Vietnam, China and India are among the markets where it will be sold.
“We want everybody on the planet to have a smartphone,” said Stephen Elop, the company’s former chief executive who now runs the company’s device business and will soon transfer to Microsoft.
Nokia also said the official Instagram app, which hasn’t yet been available on Lumias, will finally come to Windows Phones in a matter of weeks. This will give Lumia users access to view and share photos on one of the world’s fastest-growing social networks.
The absence of Instagram and other popular apps for Windows Phone has represented one of the obstacles facing Microsoft in establishing the operating system. Microsoft now was some 175,000 apps in its store but apps in Google’s and Apple’s stores each number closer to a million.
Windows Phone is also getting Vine, a popular video-sharing application developed by Twitter.