The exclusive partnership between Nokia (NOK) and AT&T (T) surrounding flagship phones is coming to an end. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop revealed in an interview with CNET that the company is pleased to have restarted its “relationship with Verizon” and is “planning a lot of exciting things” for the future. The company recently teamed up with the nation’s largest wireless provider to offer the low-end Lumia 822, however it has continued to rely on AT&T for a number of its flagship devices such as the Lumia 910 and Lumia 920. HTC (2498) has taken a different route for its flagship handset and has offered the Windows Phone 8X across three of the top carriers in the United States. Elop’s comments have us speculating, however, that Verizon (VZ) will soon offer a high-end Windows Phone 8 device from the Finnish company.
As just about every major smartphone maker gears up to introduce their own 1080p-resolution Android “phablets,” one platform that apparently won’t be getting larger screens with higher resolutions is Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Phone 8. According to Bloomberg, HTC (2498) canceled plans to build a large-screened smartphone with Windows Phone 8 “because the screen resolution would have been lower than competing models” – 720 horizontal lines instead of 1080. The company recently released the Android-powered DROID DNA with 5-inch 1080p-resolution display in a svelte chassis and had plans to “claw back share from Samsung Electronics Co.,” with a large-screened WP8 smartphone. But Bloomberg reports HTC concluded large-screened WP8 phones “wouldn’t be competitive against Android devices from HTC, Samsung and others.” More →
With its app development situation improving, Microsoft (MSFT) announced this week that it has expanded its Windows Phone Store to 37 new markets around the globe, bringing the company’s app store presence to 191 total markets. Alongside the new regions, Microsoft also revealed that its WindowsPhone.com Web Store is accessible in 112 markets. Coinciding with the new market launches are new features: Universal search to make content discovery easier, app installation to SD cards (for when an Internet connection is not available), and a new reinstallation feature that makes transferring account information less troublesome. More →
Samsung’s (005930) lead Windows Phone 8 model, the ATIV S, is finally hitting retail outlets in the United Kingdom. The supply of Nokia (NOK) Lumia 920 models has just improved in Europe and it just hit the number one and number two positions at Expansys UK. HTC (2498) is ramping up its 8S model and five out of Top Ten smartphones at Expansys UK pre-order chart are now Windows phones. Seven out of top ten phones on Expansys Germany are Windows models. A leading British handset sales tracked Uswitch is now showing both Lumia 920 and 820 climbing to its top 10 chart. A steep price cut has buoyed Nokia 800 to number one on Amazon UK handset list and onto DialAPhone list of best-sellers. Clove UK is showing several Lumias on its Hot List. More →
There’s still no Instagram app for Windows Phone 8, but Microsoft (MSFT) says developers are embracing its new mobile OS with open arms. The company announced on Thursday it is seeing a ”sustained 40% increase in Windows Phone app submissions.” As a result of the uptick in app submissions, it’s not letting any of its curating staff go on a holiday break in order provide app certification within five business days. The announcement might not delight the staff members working in that department, but could be construed as sign of success for Microsoft. The company has struggled to convince developers small and large, including Google (GOOG), that it has a big enough user base to warrant investing time into. More →
In what can be considered a major dig at Microsoft (MSFT), Clay Bavor, product management director at Google (GOOG) Apps told V3 that the company is not bringing native Gmail or Google Drive apps to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Bavor said Google has ”no plans to build out Windows apps” and that the company is “very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8.” As we begin to see a shift toward users storing their data in the cloud, the lack of Google Drive on the newest Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is an alarming concern. It’s true there are alternatives such as Microsoft’s SkyDrive, but no native Gmail app for either OSes suggests Windows is no longer a priority to develop for anymore. Instead, Bavor says that the company will continue to “make big investments in mobile in 2013 with the goal of having beautiful mobile apps” on iOS and Android.
Nokia (NOK) announced on Wednesday it’s adding another Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia device to the family in Q1 2013: the Lumia 620. Unlike the flagship Lumia 920 and mid-range Lumia 820, the Lumia 620 can be considered an entry-level device. The Lumia 620 has a 3.8-inch TFT screen with 800 x 480 resolution, 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD card), 1,300mAh battery, five-megapixel rear cam with LED flash, VGA-resolution front cam, NFC and Bluetooth 3.0. With its interchangeable shells, users can mix and match with seven different colors. Nokia will launch the Lumia 620 in Asia first, then Europe and the Middle East for $249 without any subsidies. Nokia’s press release follow below.
Despite the increased adoption rate of smartphones, the overall worldwide mobile phone market is expected to see minimal growth this year. The International Data Corporation predicts that the market will see a year-over-year increase of only 1.4% in 2012, the lowest annual growth rate in three years. Going forward, however, the market is expected to see increased growth. Mobile phone vendors are estimated to ship more than 1.7 billion handsets this year and more than 2.2 billion devices by 2016. More →
Good news for Microsoft (MSFT): Launching Windows Phone 8 seems to be helping the company create a real mobile app ecosystem. Todd Brix, the senior director of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Apps Team, announced on Twitter over the weekend that his company had seen a “100%+ increase in WP developer app revenues & downloads since WP8 launch in November.” Needless to say, this claim doesn’t mean too much without actual numbers to go with it since Windows Phone had such a low adoption rate before Microsoft’s grand Windows Phone 8 launch this fall. All the same, Microsoft must be happy that its efforts are leading to an increase in revenues for its developers, which could certainly lead to increased interest in developing for the platform.
This month’s Xbox Live Rewards survey may have leaked HTC’s (2498) upcoming flagship Windows Phone 8 device, the HTC Titan III. Every month Xbox conducts a survey where participants can earn points that can be redeemed for variety of services and products. The latest survey asked users to gauge their level of excitement for the iPhone 5, DROID RAZR Maxx HD, Nokia (NOK) Lumia 920, Samsung (005930) Galaxy S III and the HTC Titan III, a device that has not yet been announced. The Titan, also known as the Zenith, has been rumored to be HTC’s third and perhaps most exciting Windows Phone handset. The smartphone is believed to come with a 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 display, and feature a quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The Titan III was previously rumored to launch in the fourth quarter of 2012, however it will likely miss that time frame. More →
Early reports indicate that smartphones running Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Phone 8 operating system are seeing a number of technical problems, including random reboots, freezes and poor battery life. The problems are said to be affecting both the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Lumia 920, although the latter could be affected by a separate issue that Nokia (NOK) said it was investigating. The software giant later confirmed the problems within its operating system and had said that it was investigating the matter. In a statement released to TechCrunch on Wednesday, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company has “identified a cause with our partners” and is working to release an over-the-air update in December. Microsoft did not reveal the cause of the problem, however.
Despite the “slow start” for its Surface with Windows RT tablet, Microsoft (MSFT) is definitely interested in working on more hardware. BGR exclusively reported last month that the Redmond, Washington-based company is developing its own Windows Phone 8 smartphone, possibly with Surface branding. The Wall Street Journal corroborated our report earlier this month with news that Microsoft is working with component suppliers in Asia to scrape together a smartphone with a screen between four and five inches. The latest in the string of Surface smartphone rumors now comes from Digitimes, which claims that Microsoft has chosen Foxconn to manufacture its Surface smartphone. Digitimes also notes in its report that Foxconn will reportedly build Amazon’s (AMZN) rumored smartphone, with each company’s handset slated for a mid-2013 release.
Now that Windows Phone 8 is officially pushed out and people are snapping up Nokia (NOK) Lumia 920 devices like there’s no tomorrow and then running them over with cars, we can finally start talking about what Microsoft (MSFT) is going to push out in the next update. According to The Verge and Twitter user Football4PDA, Microsoft’s next Windows Phone 8 update is codenamed “Apollo Plus” and will bring some new features including a variety of bug fixes. Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, VPN, Wi-Fi connection fixes and audio improvements are all said to be in the works, according to The Verge’s sources. Windows Phone 8 “Apollo Plus” is expected to be detailed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Meanwhile, Microsoft is rumored to be preparing to release Windows Phone 7.8 to Windows Phone 7 users as early as early as Wednesday.