Microsoft, Nokia Hoping for US Smartphone Success with New Operating Systems, Handsets

As Windows Phone 7, as its now called, prepares to launch perhaps as early as next month, everyone is waiting to see whether the new OS will revive Microsoft's smartphone fortunes. An early CNET review was mixed but mostly positive:

After more than a month of living with Windows Phone 7, I have to say, Microsoft's new phone operating system is starting to grow on me . . . [T]here are hidden delights. In the past week I've found the cursor, voice recognition, and other things that I missed in my first days playing with the phone. . . Most of what I don't like about Windows Phone 7 traces back to the fact that this is--despite its polish--what amounts to a new first try for Microsoft . . .

I suspect that will be the general tone of subsequent Windows Phone 7 reviews: this feature is great, this is not, etc. Will there be enough positive to get consumers excited? And what about pricing? That will be critical. You can expect that any two-year contract phone will come in under $199. If it doesn't it's DOA from a consumer standpoint.

Meanwhile Nokia is looking to its N8 (and other forthcoming) models to "answer the iPhone" and establish new smartphone momentum. The N8 uses Symbian 3 with the first MeeGo product to come before the end of the year. The N8 has a 12 megapixel camera and Flash support. It may well arrest Nokia's smartphone slide in Europe but it's unlikely to see much success in the US market with Apple, Google and RIM too well established and with too many advantages. 

Nokia needs to offer lower-priced smart devices in the US to reestablish its brand and then move into higher-end handsets. That isn't to suggest that it shouldn't compete at the high end; shareholders are demanding it. But the N8 or another "flagship" device -- unless it's incredibly good -- it unlikely to gain much traction in the US market. 

Still it would be good to see Microsoft and Nokia do well with their new devices. More competition is better for consumers and the market as a whole.