Holly molly who saw this one coming ? Microsoft has just announced the acquisition of Nokia‘s Devices & Services business alongside licensing it’s mapping an patents portfolio for €5.4Billion in cash today. Many like me have guessed that this may have been the big plan all along since the day Stephen Elop was appointed CEO of the troubled phone maker exactly 3 years ago in one week. After the successful launch of several Nokia Windows Phone devices in the past couple of months and the continued growth of Windows Phone’s market share todays seems to be the right time for Microsoft to start a new chapter by acquiring the best Phone maker in the world and securing the biggest patent portfolio in smart device patents.
Here’s are the principal terms of today’s acquisition deal:
Microsoft is spending about EUR 3.79 billion to acquire Nokia’s core cellphone business. Of that EUR 1.65 billion is for Nokia’s devices business
Microsoft will pay $2.18 billion to license Nokia’s intellectual property
Nokia’s patent portfolio includes some 8,500 design patents ranging from mapping to network/cell technologies with approximately 30,000 utility patents and patent applications, ownership of the Lumia & Asha brands and a ten year license to you the Nokia brand on feature phones. (this means that Microsoft’s Windows Phones will only be branded Lumia and not Nokia..strange I know..)
About 32,000 Nokia employees are expected to transfer to Microsoft as part of the deal. Off those 18,300 are “directly involved in manufacturing”
56,000 Nokia employees will remain at the company once the deal has closed
Microsoft acquires rights equivalent to ownership for the HERE Mapping apps
Nokia will continue to improve these apps for other platforms
4 year- agreement for mapping data and services: Nokia will provide MS with mapping data and services in exchange of annual payments Microsoft will combine Nokia map data with other sources and also make it available to Windows AZURE users with an additional fee.?
Microsoft’s gross margin on sales of Nokia’s Windows Phone handsets before the deal: less than $10. Expected to grow to $40 after the deal.
Microsoft will build a $250M data center in Finland for consumer purposes (AZURE too?)
Finland will become a core base of Microsoft in Europe and also the center of it’s mobile hardware R&D and manufacturing.
Stephen Elop will step down and CEO of Nokia and head back to Microsoft as the EVP of Devices a job title that was just recently awarded to Julie Larsson Green which will now basically only handle the upcoming fall hardware launches (XBOX One, Surfaces) and report directly to Elop and Ballmer.
Stephen Elop just went from being and external to an internal candidate for the CEO job that Steve Ballmer will leave in the next 12 Months.
Nokia’s top designer Marko Ahtisaari will leave the company in November to “pursue entrepreneurial opportunities,”
Nokia has just released the first beta of Place Tag for its Windows Phone 8 Lumia phones. So what is Place Tag? It is a camera Lens app that allows you to take pictures with POIs integrated in them. Think of City Lens but with ability to snap a shot.
Nokia Place Tag takes more than a photo. It reveals info about the places within your photo, such as museums and famous buildings, which you can then share as a digital postcard with your friends.
Wish you were here?
You can also use Place Tag to get interesting background info about the places tagged in the photo. And if you need directions, that’s also easily available too.
I personally don’t find the whole thing really that useful especially as a separate application. Adding a camera feature to City Lens would have been more logical IMO… You can download Place Tag by scanning the QR code below.
Nokia has just launched the cheapest Windows Phone 8 handset to date and probably also one of the most stylish one. The Nokia Lumia 520 the company’s lowest-end WP8 device but ironically one of it’s best looking one too. It looks a hell of lot like a smaller HTC 8X… So what’s inside this neat little piece of hardware? Well it’s pretty similar to what you will have in the Lumia 620 and the newly released Lumia 720 but it lacks any NFC feature and there’s no Front Facing camera but it does feature the same super-sensitive screen that was first introduced with the Lumia 920.Head over after the break for the hardware specs:
Nokia has officially introduced two new Lumia devices today at MWC. The first one is the Nokia Lumia 720 which will slot directly between the Lumia 820 and 620 in terms of hardware specifications and price. The Finnish company has decided to retain its signature colorful polycarbonate body design on of its line of Lumia handsets and the 720 is no exception. The handset definitely not groundbreaking in terms of hardware or design but does have new 6.7MP camera sensor with a F/1.9 aperture which is a world’s first. Jump after the break to check out the Nokia Lumia 720 hardware specifications:
Nokia is going to unveil at least two new Windows Phone 8 handsets next week in Barcelona during MWC. Both devices are on the lower end- of the spectrum are far from the often rumored (and probably fake?) Nokia EOS. The first one will be the Nokia Lumia 520 pictured above which is meant to be the company’s cheapest WP8 device. Yes even cheaper than the currently universally acclaimed Lumia 620. The second one pictured below is the Nokia Lumia 720 which will slot between the Lumia 820 and Lumia 620.
As I previously hinted at in my Nokia Lumia 920 software video tour (and by Nokia a few months ago); Nokia and Microsoft have just announced that Nokia Drive + Beta is now available for free for all windows Phone 8 devices from HTC, Samsung in addition to Nokia’s handset. This is really a big plus for the platform given that Nokia Drive is in my opinion the best navigation software on any platform thanks to it’s offline maps and its price it’s totally free!
Head over here to grab it and check out my handset on video on the Nokia Lumia 920 after the break:
It has been nearly two months since I’ve been using Windows Phone 8 with a Nokia Lumia 920 phone as my daily driver so I thought that now should be a good time to share my thoughts and experience about the platform and the hardware powering it. Is it good, is it bad, how does it compare to the competition? I’ll try to answer all of these questions and hopefully give you a good idea of Microsoft’s (and Nokia) uphill battle to get a nice share of the mobile industry. Follow me after the break.
Microsoft and Nokia have just started to roll out the first Windows Phone 8 OTA update (build 8.0.10211.204) to Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 devices in the US (AT&T) and Canada (Rogers). The OTA (Over The Air) update is currently only aimed at North American users as there’s unfortunately no date for other regions besides oOkia statement which says that the global roll out is set to February 2013 (this sounds insane and definitely wrong given that the full PR1.1 firmware has just appeared on Nokia’s Server for severs EU models and carriers). The 8.0.10211.204 OS update contains the following enhancements and fixes:
Messaging improvements. A great messaging experience is now even better. You can now add multiple recipients at the same time when you send a text message and automatically save unsent text messages as drafts. You can even edit received text messages before you forward them.
Text replies to incoming calls. Can’t take a call? Now you can send a prewritten text reply to a caller directly from the call answer screen. It’s a nice way to let people know that you’re not ignoring them.
Internet Explorer improvements. You can now change your settings to prevent pictures from downloading automatically—an easy way to help keep data usage low. You can also delete selected sites from your browsing history and leave the rest intact.
Wi-Fi connectivity. Got a favorite Wi-Fi network? Windows Phone 8 will now prioritize Wi-Fi connections based on your connection history.
Other improvements. Includes many other improvements to Windows Phone.
Nokia Lumia 920 users will also get the PR1.1 FW update alongside the OS update which will fix the camera softness issues and several other annoying bugs:
Enhancements in Messaging
More efficient and reliable Bluetooth connectivity
More efficient and reliable start-up sequence
Enhancements in imaging performance and battery management
Additional platform updates and enhancements
HTC users should be seeing this update really soon if they haven’t got it already.
Nokia Maps for Windows Phone 8 has just received an update to its traffic layer display bringing it back to how it was in previous WP7.X versions and Bing Maps. The WP8 version had a new display mode which only rendered a traffic layer when there was actually something going on and leaving the maps free of anything when the road was clear (see video here). This apparently confused the majority of the users so we are now to how it was before as you can see in the screen shot above.
This newest version also has better Nokia Transit support which doesn’t seem to perfectly work right now though (it always sends me to the Marketplace to download the app even-though its already installed on my phone.
UPDATE: Nokia Transit / Transport has also been updated today to work with the updated version of Nokia Maps.
One of the main advantage of choosing a Nokia handset over competing devices is peace of mind knowing that the company will rapidly try to fix and roll out updates to eradicate most of the issues reported on their devices (HTC is good at it too but not as reactive as NOK). The Nokia Lumia 920 isn’t immune to bugs and issue which means that Nokia’s software teams have been hard at work seen the commercial launch of the product a few weeks ago.
One of the most noticeable problem is the strangely configured camera processing software causing day-time shots to look like a layer of Vaseline has been applied to them. Given that this doesn’t affect videos or even shoots with the front facing camera it was safe to assume that Nokia would be able to correct this with a software update. The good news is that the Lumia’s first FW update unsurprisingly labeled PR1.1 (FW: 1232.5951.1249 ) will include, among several other fixes / improvements , a new image processing algorithm that should result in sharper photos as seen in the cropped image below which was supplied to Engadget by Nokia.
Nokia has just issued an update to Nokia Drive + Beta for its Windows Phone 8 device today to partially fix one of the most annoying issue plaguing the app: extreme battery drain when the app is running in the back ground because the software was constantly updating it’s position via GPS even when navigation was stopped. As you can see in the screenshot above this is now a thing of the past thanks to a new Battery Saving feature.
There’s also a new new back to my position feature which is really handy and a welcome UX change. Check out my hands on video with the previous version after the break:
Better late than never right? Here are my first videos of my Nokia Lumia 920 in action that I shot a week ago (sorry didn’t have much time to post them earlier). The first one is a simple hardware tour of the device followed by a software tour with a short performance comparison against the Nokia Lumia 800. Finally, the third video is a demo showing Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia Transit / Transport integration in the Windows Phone 8. Hit the break to watch them:
Nokia has just announced two new Windows Phone 8 handsets today. The first one was expected to arrive sooner rather than later but the second one comes as a really surprise. The China Mobile bound Nokia Lumia 920T is the Chinese variant of the 920 but incorporates a TD-SCDMA radio and powered by the recently announced MSM8226 / MSM8626 which incorporate an Adreno 305 GPU.
The surprise Windows Phone 8 handsets is the Nokia Lumia 620 which is the company’s new low-end WP8 device feature a 3.8 inch WVGA LCD screen, a 1Ghz Dual Core Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC, 512MB of Ram, 8GB of storage extendable with the Micro-SD slot, 5Mpix camera, interchangeable back-cover with NFC all for the super low price of $249 / €199 (available in Q1 2013).
Nokia has recently released a Ringtone Maker application for its Windows Phone 8 devices (Lumia 920 and 82X) finally enabling Windows Phone user to create their ringtone with their own music directly on their phones. No need for some outside cloud-service or mp3 database or gigantic app which contains tons of music files to choose from. The Nokia Ringtone maker application will directly access the phone’s music library on the go. There are reports of crash on Lumia 920 handsets but your mileage may vary (I’ve yet to see the app crash on me). You can download the app directly from the Nokia Collection in the Windows Phone Store.
Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer announced today during the annual Share Holder meeting that Windows Phone sales are 4 times more than at this time last year. Now, given that we don’t know exactly how many Windows Phones were being sold exactly one year ago this doesn’t really mean much for the time being. The only real number we have was that Nokia sold around 1 Million Lumia handsets in November and December (US not included because they were only available principally in EU) so don’t expect this year’s number to be extraordinary.
Many users have been reporting strange phone reboots with their new HTC or Nokia Windows Phone 8 handsets ever since they got them a few weeks ago. The good news is that Microsoft has apparently found the cause of the problem and is going to push an OTA (Over The Air) fix/update next month to all Windows Phone 8 devices. The cause of the problem has not been made public yet but from what I have seen reported on forums it may partially be Bluetooth related (this may be why I have never encountered it because I never have BT on on my devices). Anyway here’s the official word from Redmond:
“We’re continuing to investigate some reports of phones rebooting and have identified a cause with our partners,” Microsoft said in a statement on Tuesday. “We are working to get an over-the-air update out in December.”
Just a friendly heads up if you are in the market for a Nokia Lumia 920 in the US. Amazon is still taking orders for the Nokia Lumia 920 at exactly $0.01 with a 2y AT&T contract. (in Black cause all other colors are out of stock). The Lumia 920 is either selling like hot cakes or in extremely short supply given that it’s seems to be out of stocks nearly every where right now (same as the HTC 8X and Lumia 820 in the US). Just hit the Amazon link below to grab yours.
This ones should definitely comes as a surprise to everybody who hasn’t seen Damian’s last mysterious tweet a few days ago. Word is that he is now effectively leaving the Finnish mobile giant on November 30th to pursue other responsibilities somewhere else. This obviously should be seen as a disappointment to all Nokia/Windows phone or even the company’ itself given Damian big role in the development of Nokia’s latest imaging technology found in the PureView 808 or the new Lumia 920.
UPDATE: The remaining stock of Nokia Lumia 920 (only in Black) at Amazon is now being sold at 19.99 with an AT&T contract so hurry up and hit the Lumia 920 link below (all other WP8 devices are now out of stock)!
If you are in the market to buy a new Nokia Lumia 920 you better hurry up because the Finnish’s flagship device is mostly sold out everywhere and is on back-order (1 or 2 weeks delivery) even in Europe. Tomorrow’s black Friday rush won’t help the situation in the US but you probably will be able to order one at a fairly good price. It’s currently at 69.99 on AT&T via Amazon and the Lumia 820 is Free with a 2 year contract. Nokia has recently reported that the 920 has sold-out in Germany but it remains to be seen if this is because it’s hugely popular or because the stock was low to begin with. As far I know there’s still some stock in France and in the UK but your mileage may vary. The same inventory issues also apply to HTC’s Windows Phone 8X which is also on back-order right now.