In fall Apple season, rival phone makers struggle
NEW YORK ó Itís shaping up to be a cold fall for smartphone makers other than Apple, as the trendsetter of the phone industry gears up to release the next iPhone.
Nokia and Motorola, which a few years ago were the No. 1 and No. 2 phone makers, revealed new phones at back-to-back events Wednesday. They appeared to be hurrying to show them off before Apple makes its iPhone announcement next week.
The phones are impressive in their own right and sport improvements from previous models, but analysts didnít see anything about them that would change the prospect of an iPhone-dominated holiday season.
For Nokia, the new phones are especially crucial. They are the first to run Windows Phone 8, and the Finnish company is hinging its turnaround strategy on an alliance with Microsoft. But the reveal fell flat with investors, as Nokiaís stock plunged 16 percent Wednesday.
Nokiaís new flagship phone is the Lumia 920. The lenses on its camera shift to compensate for shaky hands, resulting in sharper images in low light and smoother video capture, Nokia said. It can also be charged without being plugged in; the user just places it on a wireless charging pod.
Nokia also unveiled a cheaper, mid-range phone, the Lumia 820. It doesnít have the special camera lenses, but it sports exchangeable backs so you can switch colors.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in ďselect markets.Ē He didnít say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said the new phones were impressive, but he thought that Microsoft was killing the buzz by holding back on details about Windows 8.
ďThe hardware is gorgeous, but Microsoft didnít do a good job of telling the rest of the storyĒ he said.
He suspects Microsoft and Nokia announced the Lumia phones early in an attempt to steal some thunder from the next iPhone.
Motorolaís strategy for the fall is to expand the Razr brand, resurrected from the hit clamshell phone launched in 2004.
On Sept. 13 Verizon Wireless stores will sell the Droid Razr M for $99. The new iPhone isnít expected in stores until a week or two after that.
The Razr is a smaller, cheaper version of the first touchscreen Razr, which launched last year.