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Nokia Lumia 900; another beachhead in the ecosystem war

Explaining Nokia’s tactics at the announcement of the Lumia 900 on the AT&T network in the US, CEO Stephen Elop continued the military metaphors of his ‘burning platform’ memo to describe the competition with iPhone and Android. “Our strategy is to establish a system of beachheads in this ecosystem war, and from those beachheads you will see us push forward to establish a third ecosystem in the market.”

That means launching devices that make an impact in specific markets – like the Lumia 800 and 710 in the UK and Europe - and then following up with other models and with launches into other markets – the US for the Lumia 900. Or as Windows Phone chief Joe Belfiore put it, “these guys are getting in a rhythm”.

The 4.3-inch screen of the Lumia 900 is the same circular polarising Clear Black AMOLED display, which Kevin Shields of Nokia says is unique to Nokia.

Although that makes the Lumia 900’s polycarbonate case a little larger - you do notice the difference in your hand compared to the Lumia 800 - it’s also a millimetre thinner and still feels very comfortable to hold.

The flap over the USB port is also gone, so you can plug it in to flat docks (or just plug a cable in more easily). Apart from support for AT&T’s 4G LTW network, the other big difference is the forward-facing camera, an f/2.4 aperture that Shields claims lets in as much light as the rear cameras on some other smartphones, with a wide enough angle to capture two people in a video conference. Nokia’s including the Tango video conferencing software on the phone.

Even though the UK won’t get a 4G network for quite some time, we’re expecting to see the Lumia 900 come to the UK. “It will be coming to other markets”, Mark Squires of Nokia UK told us, “and it makes sense that it will come to the UK”. But he also noted that while “a front-facing camera is a key feature for some techie users, for the everyday users that the Lumia 800 is aimed at it’s not always important”.

Nokia is also considering higher storage capacities for future handsets, like 32GB, Elop said but he pointed out that the beachhead strategy doesn’t only mean more premium devices like the Lumia 900. “It’s a very deliberate part of our Windows Phone strategy to make sure we can broaden our price point in both directions. We have gone up - with the radio technology and camera technology in the Lumia 900 - but you will also see us go down. We will cover a broader range of smartphone pricing with our products. Our plans – and you’ll see this continue through 2012 – is to go market by market taking Lumia product line in different configurations.” The Lumia 710 will be on sale in the UK in February, and the Lumia 900 looks unlikely to be the only new Windows Phone device Nokia brings to the UK this year.

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