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If there are two players in the mobile sector that have some serious work cut out for them, they're none other than software giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and Finnish gadget maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) .
Windows Phone continues to struggle to reach a measly 2% market share, and Nokia saw its smartphone shipment volume plunge by 31% last quarter to 19.6 million units. Nokia still reigns as top dog in the mobile-handset market when you include feature phones, aka dumbphones, with Gartner's most recent figures showing Nokia had a 23.4% market share in the fourth quarter. Although that lead is quickly shrinking as Samsung and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) close the gap with 19.4% and 7.4% shares, respectively.
Enter the Lumia 900. Microkia hopes this new flagship phone may help turn the tide, and the device is coming in at a pretty aggressive price point for a flagship device. Carrier partner AT&T (NYSE: T ) has just announced that it will offer the Lumia 900 for a cool $100 on April 8, complete with the standard two-year contract.
The handset will also be the first 4G LTE Windows Phone available, as Ma Bell tries to catch up with Verizon's (Nasdaq: VZ ) LTE lead. Big Red has been enjoying a head start with LTE coverage and even went as far as to proclaim that it will release only LTE-capable smartphones for the rest of the year, which carries some interesting iPhone implications. Remember when I called 2012 the year of 4G LTE?
It looks as if the two largest carriers have picked their mobile OS sides. AT&T looks to be focusing on Windows Phone offerings, while Verizon has long sided with Google Android. Ma Bell currently carries four WP devices (not including the Lumia 900) and 21 Android models, while Big Red offers just one WP smartphone and 36 Android ones.
Windows Phone is inching closer to relevance, with its app ecosystem recently reaching 70,000; hopefully Nokia's hardware can impress the masses. Good luck, Microkia. You're going to need it.
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