Nokia launches Symbian C7 with T-Mobile USA
As its R&D focus shifts to WP7, it should get highly differentiated Windows platform for its 2012 devices
Published: 22 March, 2011
As expected, Nokia launched a new Symbian device in the US, despite the operating system's lack of profile in the country, and Nokia's conversion to Windows Phone 7. It also looks clear that the Finnish giant will be allowed, by the terms of its Microsoft deal, to create a highly tailored WP7 platform, very different from the user experience seen at other licensees.
The new device will be an exclusive for T-Mobile and is called the Astound. It is basically a customized version of the C7, which is available in many non-US territories as a midpriced smartphone running Symbian^3 and including features usually found in more expensive models. It has 3.5-inch AMOLED display, 8-megapixel camera and 720p HD video capture like the C7, but comes with TMo branding and an OS update to Symbian^3.1. This boasts portrait Qwerty input, an upgraded browser and other enhancements. The carrier will offer Wi-Fi calling and unrestricted video calling over Qik using the front-facing camera. The handset will ship on April 6 for $79.99 with contract.
Despite the launch, and a relatively big splash at CTIA, the US is unlikely to contribute significantly to Nokia's aim of selling another 150m Symbian phones before the OS disappears. However, its primary R&D focus will now be on creating an appealing and highly differentiated platform based on WP7.
Its first Microsoft devices should appear late this year, but are expected to run fairly vanilla WP7, similar to that of other OEMs such as HTC, Samsung and LG. Microsoft has been very prescriptive and these partners have had little opportunity to tweak the user experience, but the rules will be different for Nokia. When it launches its second wave of WP7 phones and tablets in the first half of 2012 - according to the Smarthouse publication, and as hinted by Nokia executives - the vendor will offer "Nokia exclusive capabilities". These products should make their debut at next year's Mobile World Congress. Of course, the risk for Microsoft is that this two-tier approach will alienate valuable licensees, especially long term partner HTC, before Nokia has a chance to make much market impact.