Phablet Market Heats Up As Nokia Unveils New Lumia Handsets
October 22, 2013

Phablet Market Heats Up As Nokia Unveils New Lumia Handsets

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Finnish-based Nokia is looking to enter the “galaxy” of larger handsets that practically merge with smartphones – the so-called “phablet” market – Samsung has found success in. This week, at its Nokia World Conference in Abu Dhabi, the company unveiled its first extra-large handsets that run on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system.

To date, most of Nokia’s smartphones have been of comparable size to Apple’s iPhone, but the company has looked to emphasize the high-end camera functionality on its devices. With the Lumia announcement, it appears the company will look to break into the phablet market currently dominated by Samsung.

Shipments of tablets are expected to grow more than 50 percent this year, and could reach 184 million units, according to research firm Gartner. While less than two percent of these tablets run Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system, this move also comes as Lumia has seen steady growth for four straight quarters and passed the 8 million sales mark in the June-through-September time frame.

The Nokia Lumia 1520, which was unveiled on Tuesday, certainly falls into the supersized handset category, and offers a six-inch 1080p Full HD display, a 20-megapixel camera and is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor.

The Lumia 1520 will reportedly ship later this year for $750.

In addition to this flagship phablet, the company unveiled the Lumia 1320, which offers a few less features and a lower-resolution screen but will be available for about half the price.

Nokia also announced the addition of a tablet to its line-up, the Lumia 2520, which features a 10-inch screen and will run Windows RT. This tablet-specific version of Windows 8 OS runs on devices powered by ARM processors. Unlike Microsoft’s own Windows Surface, the Lumia 2520 features LTE technology for greater Internet accessibility and data connectivity.

It does appear Nokia could be looking to embrace the notion that bigger is better, especially with its flagship phablet device.

“I’ve actually seen and held the product it is a very nice tablet and the keyboard has a really nice feel to it,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group told redOrbit.

Given this device arrives after Samsung has offered a "Galaxy" of products, the question of course is whether the 1520 and 1320 are too little or even too late.

“It isn’t a question of being late, the large format tablet market isn’t saturated yet, but more of a question on whether folks will get excited about the OS,” Enderle added. “In this case, Nokia has put on a number of nice photo editing apps so it should dovetail nicely with their photographer strategy, but that focuses the product on folks who want to edit pictures on the road before they upload them. For those folks, this coupled with a Nokia Phone could be an ideal solution.”

Nokia World is the Finnish handset maker’s final major event before it completes the sale of its hardware unit to Microsoft, which agreed to buy the business for $7.4 billion. Both companies have said the deal should be completed by early next year. The two companies have been partners since 2011 when Nokia stopped developing its Symbian OS in favor of the Windows Phone platform.

“It’s been hard. It's a very difficult challenge; it’s a very competitive environment, but we're pleased with the fact that we're building momentum,” Stephen Elop, former Nokia chief executive and now head of Microsoft’s devices and services division, told the BBC, regarding Nokia’s decision to opt for Windows Phone over Android.