Nokia has just launched its first Windows 7 phone, the Lumia 800, which according to Nokia is"the first real Windows Phone". While it will soon be available in Europe, US customers will have to wait until 2012.
And so it begins.
There is a very real sense in which Windows Phone 7 has been on hold since the deal between Microsoft and Nokia for it to switch from Symbian to Windows Phone 7. Developers who were committed to the platform took heart and continued to program as before, but anyone not sure enough to spend time on developing an app for WP7 wanted to know what would happen next. Would Nokia produce a phone that made sense of WP7 or would it be another case of being not quite enough to enthuse the end user.
Nokia has just launched the Lumia 800, its first Windows 7 phone, and it is basically a modified N9 - but this isn't necessarily a criticism, good hardware and design is what is needed. The release was made at Nokia's London conference and the importance of the event wasn't lost on Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop, the man who negotiated the deal with Microsoft back in March 2011:
"It's a new dawn for Nokia"
he also called it
"the first real Windows Phone"
"We believe it is the first ever instantiation of the Windows Phone platform that properly embodies, complements and amplifies the design sensibilities of Windows Phone"
This certainly confirms the reason why developers might have been holding off creating apps for earlier devices.
The strange part of the announcement is that, while the phones will be available very soon in most of Western Europe, it will not appear in the US until some time next year - missing the 2011 holiday season. This does not seem like smart marketing.
As well as having a standard Windows Phone 7.5 operating system, the Lumia has three additional and exclusive software components.
Nokia Drive - this is Nokia's voice guided GPS navigator.
Nokia Music - a no sign up and no subscription music service.
ESPN - a sports reporting app.
It is difficult to know if these features will attract end users, but the idea that you can now buy a tried and trusted Nokia running WP7 might well be all that is needed to make the relatively new operating system attractive. The Lumia 800 may look like an N9 with a new operating system, but again this may be all that is required. It is also very clear that Nokia is selling the phone as much on its hardware design style as functionality - but it also makes a case for "live tiles" and the "contact-oriented" design of WP7.
Watch the promo video and ask yourself if you would consider buying one. If the answer is yes, perhaps you should start work on that app right now...
The price is expected to be around the $500 mark, which makes it accessible to most mobile phone users via a contract.