Telecom & Wireless

Nokia’s New Phone Announcement: Doesn’t Anybody Here Know How to Play This Game?

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), with an assist from Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) this morning, announced two new smartphones from Nokia that will use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The two tech giants did not announce either a launch date nor a price.

That’s right — a product introduction for the product shareholders, employees, and everyone in Finland hope will save Nokia from total dismemberment and there’s no delivery date and no price.  It feels like amateur’s day out.

You can’t blame Nokia, Microsoft, and just about every other phone maker for trying to front-run next week’s expected announcement of the iPhone 5 from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The new iPhone will almost certainly suck all the oxygen out of the smartphone market for at least a month if not longer. But today’s showing was pathetic.  The reaction from investors has been almost unprecedented.

Before having a lead developer launch into a feature-by-feature review of the new devices, Nokia’s CEO talked about the future disruptive potential for the new Lumia 920 and Asha low-cost phones the company introduced today. The disruptive potential could take an unexpected turn if Nokia can’t do better than this.

Sure, Samsung stole some of Nokia’s thunder by pre-announcing Samsung’s own Windows Phone 8 device, but everyone knew that was Samsung’s intent so nobody cared. But Nokia has its entire future at stake. Surely the company could have prevailed on Microsoft to come up with a delivery date for the OS. Surely Nokia itself could have promised delivery by a certain date and announced that it would take pre-orders sooner.

The company has already cannibalized sales of its earlier models by announcing that the older phones won’t be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8. Apple can get away with customers waiting for the new iPhone because any sales lost during the slowdown will be quickly made up by the hyper-demand for the latest and greatest iPhone. Nokia and Microsoft don’t have that — and at this rate,neither appears capable of generating anything near that level of enthusiasm.

Nokia stock is down about 9.5% at $2.57 after falling as much as 12%.

Paul Ausick