Windows Phone 8 Start Screen
The exact definition of "relatively near term" is open to interpretation, but in Nokia communications it is usually a reference to the current quarterly time period (i.e. next three months). The reported remarks follow in the footsteps of a great deal of speculation about the exact timing of the announcement and launch of Windows Phone 8 devices. However, it is worth emphasising that no formal announcement has yet been made.
Nokia is due to hold its Nokia World trade show on September 5th-6th, which offers one possible time frame for the announcement of its first Windows Phone 8 devices. The retail availability (launch) of any devices would come later, but is expected to be in time for the busy November and December shopping season. Other Windows Phone device manufacturers, including HTC, Samsung and Huawei are expected to follow similar time tables.
While Microsoft has yet to give an official date to the launch of Windows Phone 8 it did note, earlier this year at the Windows Phone 8 preview event, that the first devices would arrive in the second half of 2012. The Windows 8 platform (desktops, laptops and tablets) has already been given a formal launch date of October 26th, but the smartphone platform is not directly linked to this date.
The smartphone distribution and sales channel is rather different to that for PCs and tablets. While there is likely to be a formal launch day, the reality is that availability to consumers will vary greatly from market to market. This is partly because the software product (Windows Phone 8) is tied to a hardware product (new devices), but also because there are more companies involved in the launch chains (Microsoft, handset manufacturers, and operators/retailers). For example, logistics and manufacturing run rate limitations to make it difficult to launch in multiple countries at the same time, and, in many markets, launches have to coordinated with operator campaigns and sales patterns.
As a result there is likely to be a launch period, consisting of a few weeks, during which devices start to become available in key markets. More general availability will follow in the later weeks and months.
And the timing for this launch period? That's still up in the air, but most signs (advertising bookings, past history, and experience) point to the first week of November, with some evidence suggesting that there could be earlier availability. We'll keep you posted.