Nokia Windows phones may miss U.S. holiday shopping season

But apparently U.S. smartphone buyers won't be missing much themselves

Nokia has made it clear it initially will focus on the European market when it launches its first smartphones powered by partner Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

But would it do something as ill-advised as miss the U.S. holiday shopping season?

From AdAge:

[I]t looks like Nokia's much-anticipated Windows Phone, the fruit of a new partnership with mobile underdog Microsoft, won't be around for the all-important U.S. holiday shopping season.

We know that mass-marketing for the new device won't start until 2012 in the U.S., and it's unclear if Nokia's Windows handsets will arrive on shelves this year at all.

Nokia is expected to unveil its Microsoft-powered phone at Nokia World in London this week. But while the manufacturer is readying a European push to promote the new devices, it appears that consumers in its toughest market, the U.S., might not see much marketing, if any, until next year.

For some reason this reminds me of the scene in Spinal Tap when band members are informed that their Boston gig was being cancelled due to poor ticket sales and manager Ian Faith says, "I wouldn't worry about it, though, it's not a big college town." And the U.S. isn't a big smartphone market!

(Also see: What if the Nokia WP7 really is only an '8'?)

Granted, it's not as if a Nokia WP7 phone could jump into the U.S. market this fall and immediately grab a 20% share or anything. But still! Get your long-anticipated phone into some curious American hands and let the word of mouth build over the next year, then make a big push in the 2012 holiday season. (Some of us still have income, you know!)

That's a better plan than starting from scratch in the U.S. after the heavy Q4 buying season.

Unless you don't have much to sell. Get a load of these excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article (italics mine):

While its first smartphones will include some of Nokia's own technology, such as its mapping applications, they won't differ greatly from other phones on the market, said Jo Harlow, the company's executive vice president of smart devices. That's because Nokia has been focused primarily on getting them to consumers as quickly as possible.

Limiting the number of features in any given product to make sure it is launched on time is a strategy the company learned from Microsoft, she added. In the past "feature creep," or adding more features than Nokia could deliver on time, led to delays.

"Our focus has been on getting to market, as opposed to lots of differentiation," Ms. Harlow said in an interview.

Translation: We plan to introduce a "me too" smartphone that is indistinguishable from pretty much any other device out there.

Run with it, marketing!

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