x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nokia looks to restore glories with regional Lumia smartphone launch

Launch of Windows 8 smartphone range in Middle East comes as Nokia looks to regain ground lost to rivals Apple and Samsung.

Tom Farrell, vice president Nokia Middle East. Duncan Chard for the National
Tom Farrell, vice president Nokia Middle East. Duncan Chard for the National

Nokia has launched its Lumia smartphones in the Middle East as it looks to regain some of its former glory, having been eclipsed by rivals Apple and Samsung.

The Finnish phone manufacturer said the region is one of just six global marketschosento launch the Lumia 920 and its smaller, more compact version, the Lumia 820.

The Lumia 920 handset will be made available exclusively with du in the UAE on November 25, priced at Dh2,499 (US$680).

The Lumia 820 will be priced at Dh1,899, said Nokia.

"Nokia is back," announced Tom Farrell, the vice president of Nokia Middle East, at yesterday's launch of the Lumia smartphone.

Thelaunch marks the Middle East debut of the brand's Windows Phone range, viewed by some as a make-or-break attempt for Nokia to reclaim ground in the smartphone business.

Nokia's share of the mobile phone market and the smartphone category in particular has slipped drastically over the years against competition from the iPhone and devices running on the Android operating system.

The Lumia 920 phone is being marketed as the world's most innovative, and runs Microsoft's new Windows 8 platform - which includes Arabic-language capabilities.

It includes the new Internet Explorer 10 for fast Web browsing and the full Microsoft Office Suite.

"The Middle East is a tremendous smartphone market and the [region] is important to us," said Mr Farrell.

The Windows Phone operating system includes 120,000 apps for download, but just 5,000 are specific to the region.

According to Microsoft's regional head, 1,500 app developers are registering daily and more region-specific and localised apps will be made available.

Nokia's rival smartphone maker Research In Motion, meanwhile, has announced that BB10, the much-delayed new version of its BlackBerry operating system, will be launched on January 30.

Thorsten Heins, the president and chief executive of RIM, said BB10 would offer "innovative features combined with a best in class browser, a rich application ecosystem, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities … unlike any smartphone on the market today".

The company, which has been losing market share in recent years as other smartphone makers, chiefly Apple and Samsung, have overtaken it in technology terms, said the launch - widely considered make or break - would happen simultaneously in multiple countries.

thamid@thenational.ae