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Ahead of Sept. 5 Event, Microsoft-Nokia Advance on Other Fronts

With only a few weeks to a joint Sept. 5 announcement expected to reveal a new Lumia device or devices for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft and Nokia appear to be putting other pieces in place.

For one thing, Nokia's all-in bet on Windows Phone is succeeding, at least in the limited arena of the existing Windows Phone ecosystem. Nokia has only had Windows Phones for sale since November 2011 (and only since January in the United States), yet it's now dominating the field.

According to Localytics, Nokia has "cemented itself as the world's Windows Phone manufacturer" by accounting for 59 percent of all global Windows Phone devices seen by Localytics' mobile app analytics platform in July. In a Localytics blog post Tuesday, Daniel Ruby wrote, "Between Jan. 1 and July 31, 2012, Nokia went from zero percent to nearly a third of all Windows Phone-powered devices in use in the United States."

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In the first half of the year, Windows Phone handsets seen by apps running Localytics were up 312 percent, the Boston-based firm noted.

Despite the growth, the partnership has a long way to go. Nokia has said it sold 4 million Lumia devices worldwide in the second quarter. That compares to about 29 million Apple iPhones and nearly 100 million Google Android-based devices over the same period.

Yet together, Nokia and Microsoft may be making headway with the U.S. carrier that could give them both the biggest boost in sales. The Bloomberg news service reported Tuesday that Verizon Wireless will sell a Nokia phone running Windows Phone 8 later this year. If the report, which depends on an unnamed source, is correct, it would be Verizon's first Windows Phone since introducing the HTC Trophy in early 2011. Bloomberg also reported that Verizon is not expected to be part of the Sept. 5 announcement.

Microsoft's relationship with Verizon has been rocky over the last few years. The carrier was burned by Microsoft's quick retraction of the Kin from the market, and has been lukewarm in its support for Windows Phone 7. Verizon offered the Trophy months after other carriers had been selling Windows Phones and didn't choose to offer new hardware when Windows Phone 7.5 came out.

Should Microsoft and Nokia land timely support from Verizon on Windows Phone 8 in addition to their solid standing with AT&T, the relationship could help carry the platform into a solid No. 3 position behind Android and Apple.

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 22, 2012


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