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Nokia shows off new Windows smartphones

Members of the media check out the new Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 Windows smartphones on Wednesday in New York City. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in “select markets.” 

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Members of the media check out the new Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 Windows smartphones on Wednesday in New York City. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in “select markets.” 

NEW YORK — Nokia revealed its first smartphones to run the next version of Windows, a big step for a company that has bet its future on an alliance with Microsoft, but investors were disappointed, and Nokia's stock fell sharply Wednesday.

Nokia's new flagship phone is the Lumia 920, which runs Windows Phone 8. The lenses on its camera shift to compensate for shaky hands, resulting in sharper images in low light and smoother video capture, Nokia said. The phone can also be charged without being plugged in; the user just places it on a wireless charging pod.

Nokia also unveiled a cheaper, midrange phone, the Lumia 820. It doesn't have the special camera lenses, but it sports exchangeable backs so that users can switch colors.

Nokia chief executive officer Stephen Elop said the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in "select markets." He didn't say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them. AT&T and T-Mobile USA have been selling earlier Lumia phones.

Investors seem to have expected more specifics or an earlier launch. After the announcement, Nokia shares fell 45 cents, or 16 percent, to close Wednesday at $2.38 in New York. The stock is at its lowest levels since the 1990s.

Apple is expected to reveal the iPhone 5 at an event in San Francisco next week, which means the holiday quarter is going to be a tough one for competing smartphones.

Facing stiff competition from Apple's iPhone and devices running on Google's Android software, Finland's Nokia has tried to stem its decline in smartphones in part through a partnership with Microsoft announced last year.

Nokia sold 4 million Lumia phones in the second quarter, a far cry from the 26 million iPhones that Apple sold during those three months. So far, the line hasn't helped Nokia halt its sales decline: Its global market share shrank from the peak of 40 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2011, and it is expected to dwindle further this year.

For Microsoft, the alliance with Nokia is its best chance to get into smartphones again, where it has been marginalized by the rise of the iPhone and then phones running Google's Android software. The launch of Windows Phone 8 coincides roughly with the launch of Windows 8 for PCs and tablets. That launch is set for Oct. 26.

U.S. phone companies are also eager to build up Windows Phone as an alternative to the iPhone and Android, to reduce the leverage Apple and Google have over them. Android and Apple devices dominate in smartphones, with 85 percent of the worldwide market combined, according to research group IDC.

Samsung, which has succeeded Nokia as the world's largest maker of phones, showed off a Windows 8 phone last week. It didn't announce an availability date.

In a demonstration Wednesday, the Lumia's docking station also played music from the phone, even though it wasn't plugged in. The music was transferred from the Lumia's near-field communications chip, which can connect automatically to other devices at short range. Coupled with the right apps, NFC chips can also be used to pay for things in stores, by tapping the phone to credit card terminals.

A cheaper Motorola Razr in stores next week .

Motorola is broadening the use of its Razr brand to a family of smartphones in its first major product launch under new owner Google, which bought Motorola for $12.4 billion in May. Verizon Wireless started taking advance orders Wednesday for the first of the new phones, the Droid Razr M. It's a cheaper, smaller phone than the Razr that Motorola Mobility launched last year. The $99 Razr M will be in stores next week. Motorola is following up with the launch of two high-end models, the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD, later this year. It's emphasizing long battery life — up to 21 hours of talk time for the Maxx HD or 10 hours of video streaming. The new phones will run on Google's Android system.

Nokia shows off new Windows smartphones 09/05/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 11:27pm]
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