Nokia yesterday published additional material about its proposed transaction with Microsoft that will see the sale of its Devices & Services business and a major patent licensing agreement. The information is intended to give shareholders more information ahead of the proposed 19th November EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) at which shareholders will be asked to follow the board's recommendation and vote to approve the proposed transaction with Microsoft.
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Microsoft and Nokia today announced that they had signed an agreement whereby Nokia will sell its Devices & Services business and license its patents to Microsoft for €5.4 billion. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2014, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.
The move will be seen as a key part of Microsoft's future devices and service strategy and was, perhaps, inevitable given its reliance on Nokia for Windows Phone devices, especially after rumours about such a transaction were floated earlier this summer. It will shake up both the Windows Phone ecosystem and the mobile industry more generally, drawing clear lines between major technology players, but also leaving questions about the business sustainability of smaller players.
The transaction will close the mobile phone chapter in Nokia's 150 year old history and reshapes a company that remains one of Europe's leading technology brands.
Kantar Worldpanel data, released today, shows that, in the three months to the end of July 2013, Windows Phone devices made up 8.3% of smartphone sales unit volumes in the EU5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy, and Spain), the highest ever level for the platform. Windows Phone also reached a record share of smartphone sales in Mexico (12%), taking second place behind Android, but ahead of BlackBerry and iOS, the first time this has happened in a market of significant size.
The Nokia Pro Camera app, which provides a superior user interface and experience to the standard Windows Phone Camera app, is now available for Lumia 920, 925 and 928 handsets that are running Windows Phone 8 GDR2. This means the app is available for all Nokia Lumia 925 devices and for Lumia 920 and 928 devices that have been updated with the Lumia Amber software update.
Nokia today started the roll out of its Lumia Amber software update. The update, which ships on top of the Windows Phone 8 GDR 2 update, brings a variety of improvements to Nokia's Windows Phone 8 devices, including improved image processing (better camera ouput), the availability of Nokia Smart Camera to all devices and Nokia Pro Camera for select devices, improved lockscreen and display settings features (including the addition of "Glance" and "double tap to wake"), the return of flip to silence functionality, in place update for HERE maps data, support for call and SMS blocking, and more.
App Highlights, which is pre-loaded on most Lumia devices, has served as Nokia's primary app promotion and recommendation channel, and is an important part of the company's app strategy. From today, it will be replaced, on Windows Phone 8 devices, by the App Social service and app. App Social, which was previously available through Nokia Beta Labs under the name App Highlights Social, adds a social and community element to the existing App Highlights concept, including the ability to curate your own list of app recommendations.
Microsoft has released a beta of a new tool, Windows Phone App Studio, that lets you build basic Windows Phone apps in your browser for free. It is envisioned as a way for first time developers to get started with app creation without having to know any code, but may also be useful for more experienced developers as a prototyping tool.
Yesterday, Kantar released its latest set of Worldpanel data (June 2013) about smartphone sales data in a number of countries. The data shows continued year-on-year growth for Windows Phone in the UK (4.5% to 8.6%), France (2.3% to 9.0%), Mexico (1.9% to 7%), Australia (5.2% to 5.3%) and the US (2.9% to 4.0%). However, some markets, such as Germany (6.1% to 5.9%) and Italy (8.3% to 7.8%, show small drops in market share, painting a mixed picture for Windows Phone.
Nokia today announced the Lumia 625, a mid range Windows Phone 8 smartphone, with a 4.7 inch screen and LTE (4G) connectivity. The WVGA (800 x 480) IPS LCD screen is the largest on a Lumia phone to date. Other key specifications include 8GB of internal memory, microSD card support, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor running at 1.2GHz, 512MB RAM, 2000mAh integrated battery, and a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash.
Nokia has released its Q2 2013 results, reporting an operating loss of €115 million (up from a loss of €824 million in Q2 2012), with net sales of €5.695 billion (down 24% year-on-year). Nokia's Devices and Services division's operating loss was €33 million. The margin in Devices and Services was -1.2% (up from from -11.8% in Q2 2012). Total smartphone device sales were 7.4 million (all Lumia), up from 6.1 million in Q1, while mobile phone volumes were 53.7 million, down from 55.8 million in Q1, and down 27% year-on-year.