In an event conducted with the kind of fanfare popularized by its Cupertino competitor, Nokia Corp. (NYSE:NOK) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) held a joint media event in New York City that included remarks from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and a surprise appearance by Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO.
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The press preview was dedicated to the debut of the Nokia Lumia 920, and its smaller version, the Lumia 820; the Lumia 920 is the flagship device running Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8.
As details of the Lumia 920 were made public, shares of the mobile handset-maker plunged nearly 10%.
Nokia, which is the world's second-largest wireless phone maker behind Samsung, is under pressure to remain relevant in the ever-growing smartphone market, dominated by devices running on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platforms.
The event itself, held in a loft event space in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, got mixed reception from the tech media elite as demos suffered due to audio and visual difficulties that plagued the device presentation. Nokia executives had a difficult time showing off certain features. A glitch delayed a presentation of the device's ability to play music wirelessly to a speaker, and executives had difficulty getting through the demo of a photo-editing application.
Elop took the stage first, touting the strides made by the Nokia Lumia 900, the first product to come out of the company’s Microsoft partnership, highlighting its growing adoption in China. He stressed Nokia's transition toward a more limber, customer-focused company, before handing the presentationit over to Nokia executive vice president Jo Harlow to describe the phone's primary features.
Harlow kicked off the demo with a breakdown of the Lumia 920's smartphone camera, which uses the latest PureView camera innovation. The camera reportedly captures five times more light than competitor smartphones and introduces optical image stability to produce brighter images and video when using the camera inside or at night. Harlow also highlighted an augmented reality feature called Nokia City Lens that allows users to point the Lumia camera at a city street and see information about restaurants, shops, and hotels displayed over buildings. Both the Lumia 920 and 820 devices are powered by Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon S4 processors.
Nokia also announced partnerships with Virgin Mobile and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf that will enable users to take advantage of the Lumia phone's wireless charging capabilities when in those stores. Wireless charging is another key feature of the device, as well as impressive GPS location and navigation apps.
Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft, demoed the Windows Phone 8 platform, showing off features of the new mobile platform, and the event closed with brief remarks by Ballmer, who was the event's surprise guest.
It remains to be seen whether or not this could be the device to upend Apple's and Android’s dominance in the smartphone market. Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5 at its media event in San Francisco next Wednesday.
Nokia did not announce any agreements with wireless carriers or a price point for the device, and shares of the company fell nearly 16% in Wednesday’s session, while shares of Microsoft fell just 2 cents.
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