Increased competition in the lucrative smartphone and tablet computer business, previously dominated by Apple’s iPhone and iPad, was on clear display on the opening full day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as Samsung, Nokia, Asus and Sony all launched devices aimed at taking a chunk of the market.
Expectations for major new announcements at this year’s annual telecommunications and gadget showcase have been muted, with Apple not expected to launch a new iPhone until later this year, and Samsung due to launch the next generation of its popular Galaxy smartphone, the S4, on March 14.
But that didn’t stop Nokia announcing four new phones, including a mid and lower-priced version of its well-received flagship Lumia smartphones. It also launched two cut-price basic phones, costing as little as €15 each, targeted at emerging markets. The releases are part of Nokia chief executive, Stephen Elop’s plans to revive the fortunes of the former mobile phone market leaders, by making sure it has competitve products in all categories and price brackets.
The Nokia Lumia smartphones run on Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, making the success of the devices crucial to both iconic companies. The top of the range Lumia 920 was released last year to critical acclaim, but limited commercial success due to a combination of supply issues and the dominance of the Apple and Android eco-systems.
In Barcelona it launched the Lumia 720 and the Lumia 520. No Australian details are available yet, but it said the Lumia 520 will sell from €139 ($177) and the 720 will be €249 ($316.) The company said it would bring some of the features, such as impressive optical performance of its cameras, to lower priced handsets.
“The new Lumias leave Nokia with nowhere to hide in terms of industry scrutiny, with devices now covering most bases in terms of price points, connectivity, and segmentation,” devices and platforms analyst at research firm Ovum, Tony Cripps said.
“Creating a virtuous circle of supply and demand will be vital if the partners are to truly drive uptake and market acceptance after a slow start. This will require an even greater marketing push and more focus on retail outlets than we’ve seen to date.”
Samsung takes note
The 8-inch device supports the S Pen stylus of it’s smaller half-sibling the Galaxy Note II phone tablet and is two-inches smaller than the company’s 10.1 inch tablet.
It also announced a deal with Visa that will allow contactless payments on Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled Samsung phones, these include Galaxy 2 and 3 and the 5.5 inch Note II.
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