Microsoft announced on Monday that it has appointed Thom Gruhler as the corporate vice president of Windows Phone Marketing. He formerly worked for McCann Worldgroup as global managing partner of Telecom & Technology.
Throughout his time at McCann, he worked on well-known ad campaigns, leading the various agencies that produced Verizon’s infamous “Can you hear me now?” campaign for eight years. Verizon is the largest U.S. client of the agency, with a $1.9 billion account. He also had the opportunity to work with various other major companies such as Mastercard, Kohl’s, and, while working for other agencies within the Interpublic Group — holding company parent of McCann — Barclays, DaimlerChrysler, HP, Hilton, and Salomon Smith Barney.
“Thom brings deep experience in the telecommunications industry, exceptional creativity and a proven track record of creating campaigns that connect with consumers,” said Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division at Microsoft. “Windows Phone is a uniquely compelling product, and Thom will help us bring that to life for our customers.”
With both the launch of Nokia Windows Phones on the horizon along with the colossal Windows 8 ‘Apollo’ update, it would appear that Microsoft is getting their marketing ducks in a row to really push the platform once its own ducks are aligned.
As we had just reported on earlier today, there’s going to be another event taking place exactly a week from this one; Nokia are hosting a special launch event to celebrate its entry into the Chinese market, during which the Finnish phone manufacturer is expected to announce the specific devices, carriers, and availability dates of its products in the region.
They won’t be the first company to introduce a Windows Phone to China, however; as we know, HTC launched the Triumph — essentially a rebranded Titan — in China earlier this month, beating Nokia, LG, and ZTE to the punch.
While HTC was the first company to launch a Windows Phone in China, it would appear that Nokia is acting fast to get a device launched in that market as well. Engadget China reports that Nokia is hosting a Lumia launch event in China on the 28th, during which they are expected to announce the devices, carriers, and availability dates; the phones won’t be available immediately. The Verge has received confirmation from a Nokia spokesperson that the company plans to actually launch the devices beginning in April, post-event.
So, which devices can we expect to go on sale in China? We know that Nokia will definitely be launching the Lumia 610, a Tango-era Windows Phone that’s tailored towards emerging markets. Thanks to diminished hardware requirements — along with some software-side limitations as well, which we covered here — Nokia were able to aptly price the 610 for emerging markets like China. Nokia may also launch the Lumia 800 in China as its high-end, flagship device in the region.
With HTC having already launched its Triumph mobile phone, along with LG and ZTE also wanting in on the Chinese mobile market, Nokia will have a fair bit of competition. It should be interesting to see how they — and the Windows Phone platform overall — perform in the region.
Thus far, neither AT&T or Nokia have commented on the availability date of the Lumia 900 in the US, but rumors have stated that the phone was initially going to launch on March 18th, but it was delayed until the 22nd. Now, a new rumor has surfaced suggesting that the phone will be available to order online on April 8th (Easter), and will hit store shelves on the 9th. WPCentral spotted a comment on The Verge from someone who claims to be an assistant manager at an AT&T store in California who is stating that they are “gearing up” for the Lumia launch, and “its tentative for April 8″.
He also mentioned in his comment that AT&T will only initially be receiving black and cyan units, with the white one being sold if and when the device performs well. On top of this, a second commentor on the WPCentral post itself who also claimed to be from AT&T mentioned that he’s been told the phone is launching on the 8th as well. Now of course, this rumor, as with the others, should be taken with a grain of salt. I will attempt to ask around and see if I can get more information backing (or smashing) this rumor.
In a related note, WPCentral are hearing from a credible source that the finalized software for the AT&T Lumia 900 will be going out today, meaning that AT&T will have to reflash all of its devices.
I hypothesize that there is a timeline where Nanam—me in an alternate universe—has a Samsung Focus from AT&T that sports the latest Windows Phone update known as 8107. In our timeline, I don’t since, well, AT&T won’t release it. If there ever was an award for the worst premiere partner, AT&T is the hands-down winner. Microsoft removed their Where’s My Update page clearly due to pressure from carriers as the page made them look bad and Microsoft could easily wash their hands off the delayed updates problem. For those unaware, Apollo is the codename given to Windows Phone 8, the next major update to Microsoft’s phone OS.
In a conversation with some representatives at Microsoft’s booth at CeBit, Thomas from WP7app.de was told that second and first generation Windows Phone devices will get Apollo. (Some Apollo features won’t work due to hardware limitations.) This confirmation, to me, means little. Even if according to Microsoft, current and older Windows Phone devices support Apollo, there is no guarantee that users will get it. In fact, Microsoft seems to have given up on harassing carriers to push out updates.
Nokia World 2012 will be taking place on September 25 through the 26th, which is interesting timing given that the Windows Phone 8 ‘Apollo’ update is set to touch down at the end of this year; Nokia will almost certainly be showing off, or at the very least discussing its plans for the new software update during the event. It’s only right that they do, it is a conference centered around the company’s latest products.
The event isn’t open to the general public, but it is to bloggers (among analysts, carriers, developers, partners, and Nokia employees of course), so there definitely will be coverage about what the company discusses during the event. Let’s just hope that there’s less Symbian, and more Windows Phone in Nokia’s future.
Through the announcement of the Lumia 610 and ZTE Orbit at the Mobile World Congress, we discovered that the rumors about Tango lowering its standards, so to speak, for lower-end devices were true. But beyond knowing that the minimum amount of requirement memory was being lowered to 256MB, we knew little about what other changes would be made to accommodate lower-performance devices.
Thankfully, LiveSide stumbled upon some stealthily-made updates to the Windows Phone How-To website, in which some new Tango features and limitations were detailed. They took the trouble of rummaging through the documentation and compiling this list of the limitations that will affect these lower-end devices:
Windows Phone Marketplace app restrictions – Some processor-intensive apps have memory requirements, and won’t work on phones with 256 MB of RAM. You can check how much memory you have on your phone by tapping Settings > About.
HD video playback – You won’t be able to play video compressed with some of the listed codecs if your phone has 256 MB of RAM.
Background agents – To free up RAM for the foreground on 256MB devices, generic background agents (PeriodicTasks/ResourceIntensiveTasks) are disabled.
Some new features were also spotted within the documentation:
Better media messaging. Now you can attach multiple pictures and videos—along with voice notes and ringtones—to text messages. You can include a video, picture, voice note, or ringtone in an instant message, too.
Location awareness icon.When an app is accessing your phone’s current location information, an icon will appear next to the battery status indicator
Export and manage contacts to SIM card. All Windows Phones allows you to import contacts from a SIM card, but only some phones allows you to export contacts to a SIM card, or create and edit individual contacts on the SIM card. For more information, please contact your mobile operator. (Strangely, this feature is only documented on the Chinese version of the website. The English version states that “you can’t save contacts from a Windows Phone to a SIM card.”)
Now, bear in mind that there may be some additional limitations and features that weren’t mentioned in this documentation; it isn’t a complete and comprehensive list. Still, it’s good to get an idea of some of the limitations that these lower-end devices will face.
According to a report published on Monday, Verizon was contemplating launching a Nokia device — called the ‘Om’ — around January, but axed plans to do so primarily due to Windows Phone’s — at the time — lack of support for Verizon LTE (the Nokia Lumia 900 will likely be launching on AT&T’s own LTE network.)
Thus far, Verizon doesn’t seem to be quite enthusiastic about the Windows Phone platform; they currently only offer one Windows Phone — the HTC Trophy — which is one of the first Windows Phones ever released. While they probably could release a Windows Phone 7.5 device in the interim, The Verge are hearing that Windows Phone won’t have Verizon LTE support until the big ‘Apollo’ update that’s due later this year.
That being said, it’s truly interesting how massive this update is; in fact, many are speculating that it will only run on new Windows Phone hardware. These behaviors of manufacturers and carriers all seem to line up with this rumor as well. HTC are holding off until Apollo before releasing any serious flagship devices, and Sprint are also in the ‘wait for Apollo’ boat.
One unfortunate consequence of installing Windows 8 that some developers have encountered is the inability to properly use the Windows Phone SDK on the OS. Of course, it is pre-release software after all — expecting everything to work perfectly is insane — but for those of you crazy people out there who are using it in a production environment, no worries; Microsoft are well-aware of the Windows Phone SDK incompatibility issues and will have more to share on a fix in the “coming weeks.”
On the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Larry Lieberman went ahead and elaborated on the three issues that are currently affecting the Windows Phone SDK on Windows 8: XNA Game Studio (an error message when the user attempts to install; components fail to install), the Windows Phone Emulator (doesn’t run at all), and .NET 3.5 (capability.exe and slsvcutil.exe doesn’t run on Windows 8 unless you separately install .NET 3.5).
On top of Windows 8 incompatibilities, the Windows Phone SDK also has issues with the Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview. For those of you who, for whatever reason, actually thought that Visual Studio 11 would not support the Windows Phone SDK when it RTMs, rest assured; Microsoft has confirmed that it will.
Last week, during the Mobile World Congress, Nokia announced the PureView 808; a phone whose prime selling point was a camera packing — wait for it — a 41MP camera sensor. Now of course, megapixels aren’t everything; they are only one ingredient in the mixture that results in a great camera that takes great photos, and an 8MP phone is perfectly capable of taking better photos than a 41MP phone.
However, there’s more to PureView than the megapixels, and you can read all about that here. It is definitely cool that they packed such a large megapixel count in a phone.
Moving on, however, something that’s unfortunate about this cool technology is that it was implemented on a phone that runs the Symbian OS. No need to fear, however; Nokia have officially confirmed that PureView is headed to Windows Phone — a real OS — sometime in the near future. Jo Harlow, Nokia’s Senior VP of Smartphones recently told Finnish newspaper Aamulethi when asked about when we can expect Nokia Windows Phone handsets to pack PureView, “I can’t say precisely when, but it will not take very long.” This is a rough translation of course; the original answer is in Finnish.
Perhaps we can expect the inevitable new lineup of Nokia devices that run Windows Phone Apollo to pack PureView.
In the race to bring the first Windows Phone device to China, it looks like we have a winner: Engadget reports that HTC has just began accepting pre-orders for the Triumph, which is essentially the HTC Titan that we have come to know and love re-branded.
Running Windows Phone 7.5 Tango, the 4.7″ behemoth will be priced sans-contract at ¥4,399, which is roughly $700 US. That’s quite expensive, and we can only hope that subsidized, contract pricing options as we have in the West are available to allow more people to purchase the device. So, how is the Triumph different from its Western counterpart? It isn’t, for the most part; one thing to note is that local social services Sina Weibo and Tencent Weixin will replace the Facebook and Twitter integration of Tango. SkyDrive is available, but it will be forced to conform to the regulations of the Great Firewall of China.
Nokia, LG, and ZTE — interestingly enough, Samsung isn’t joining the party just yet — are all poised to release handsets in China sometime this month as well. Throughout the rest of this year onwards, we’ll definitely have to keep an eye out on Windows Phone competition and traction in the Chinese market.
On top of bringing Windows Phones to China, Microsoft has also struck a deal that will bring devices to the Middle East and North Africa, through regional carrier Zain.
“The smartphone has become a necessary item in today’s society, and this agreement with Microsoft, one of the world’s leading technology companies, is just the beginning of yet another example of Zain delivering on its brand promise to achieve our vision of ‘A Wonderful World’. We have the utmost confidence in the capabilities of Windows smartphone technology and believe such an appealing offering will further attract, empower and enhance the lifestyles of our customers.”
Guastavo Fuchs — Microsoft Mobility Director, Middle East and Africa — mentioned that the region is projected to see smartphone growth of 38% in the year 2012. While the specific devices that will be available in the region are currently unknown, it’s safe to say that we can expect to see lower-cost handsets such as the Lumia 610 or ZTE Orbit hit the shelves. Tailored towards emerging markets, the lower price point of these Windows Phones are sure to get smartphones in the hands of many users. That isn’t to say, though, that a higher-end smartphone market is nonexistent; I think that such devices will thrive here as well.
It definitely will be interesting to see how well Windows Phone performs here. Perhaps the platform will see great success in these emerging markets.
Nokia kicked off the Mobile World Congress (MWC) with its press conference on February 27, in Barcelona. Stephen Elop, President and CEO of Nokia took stage and described the progress they have made since the last year’s event. If you recall, it was last year’s MWC when Nokia had officially announced that they were going all in on Windows Phone.
After the initial update on Nokia’s latest endeavors both on the low-end Asha phones, and also on the higher-end Windows Phones, the talk shifted to the new stuff. First up was the Asha line of phones, and 3 new devices were announced, along with Nokia Life services which bring life skills, parenting, education, agriculture and entertainment services to Series 30 and 50 phones in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.
However, I want to focus on Nokia’s progress with Windows Phone. Late last year, Nokia announced and launched two brand new devices, the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 710. These devices were released ahead of schedule, and were available in parts of Europe first, and then slowly to other geographies over the next months. The launches everywhere were accompanied with a lot of marketing muscle – from concerts and light shows to flash mobs and video shows. Some examples:
Yet, I was surprised that based on a recent report by Strategy Analytics, Nokia was able to go from no market share to the highest share among all Windows Phone device makers. It is even more remarkable when you consider that the phones were not even available for the entire quarter, and not across most geographies where other device makers were already selling Windows Phones.
Speaking to Pocket-Lint, HTC has confirmed that it plans to create and launch Windows Phone handsets that will run the next major OS update, ‘Apollo’, later on this year. HTC mentioned this when Pocket-Lint inquired as to whether or not we can expect a Windows Phone (or multiple of them) to eventually join the ranks of the HTC One Android lineup. Here’s what Kouji Kodera, HTC’s chief product officer had to say when asked:
“For Windows Phone we haven’t decided on the branding yet, but you will see a new range of Windows Phones from us when Microsoft release their new Apollo operating system,”
Interesting. Could this mean that HTC will not have any (or, perhaps, any flagship) Windows Phones to announce at this year’s Mobile World Congress? Should that be the case, they’ll be joining the ranks of LG, who also does not have any devices to announce; and perhaps for similar reasons. HTC’s decision to hold off on creating a “new range of Windows Phones” until Apollo is a clear indication that this update is very major. Could the hardware that the OS will run on be significantly different?
We’ll see. Leading up to the end of the year, information about the mysterious major update is sure to trickle out, little by little.
Nokia has just announced the new, entry-level Lumia 610. Priced at the low cost of 189 Euros before taxes and subsidies (approximately $255 US), it is now Nokia’s cheapest Windows Phone.
This low price point has been made possible thanks to the (now official), formerly rumored lowered Windows Phone specifications; as we reported earlier this month, a leak of Windows Phone Tango features revealed that Microsoft will be lowering certain hardware requirements to accommodate cheaper phones.
The minimum required amount of memory has been diminished to 256MB from 512MB, OEMs are now required to include a camera of at least 3MP (this is a good thing, they previously didn’t need to add a camera at all), and a lower-performance processor (the minimum here is currently unknown, though the Lumia 610’s is 800MHz, perhaps this is the new minimum). As some apps may not work on these lower-speced phones — and as there are some software differences as well — many, including myself and fellow Microsoft writer Manan are concerned that this will be the beginning of Windows Phone fragmentation.
The Lumia 610 will hit the shelves sometime in Q2 of 2012, and it will be available in Cyan, White, Black, and Magneta. The Verge have managed to get a hands-on with the device, so for a video and some additional photos, their post is worth looking at.