Date: Wed, Oct. 26, 4:15 a.m.
Everything about Wednesday morning's Nokia World event suggests that Nokia does not care whether Americans buy its new Windows Phone handsets.
One hint: The event, which was held early in the morning in London, began around 4 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Unless you work a night shift or are a first-year analyst at Goldman Sachs, you were probably asleep and not experiencing the hype and excitement of a product launch.
A second suggestion that Nokia does not care about the American market is the list of countries and regions that Nokia announced will be receiving either the top-of-the-line Nokia Lumia 800 or the more affordable Nokia Lumia 710 by the end of 2011: Hong Kong. India. Russia. Singapore. France. Germany. Italy. The Netherlands. Spain. The United Kingdom.
Apologies to Uzbekistan, and also the United States, but no one outside the countries listed above is getting a Lumia for Christmas this year. The Nokia phones running Windows Phone Mango will be in America in "early 2012," according to a Nokia spokesperson. (When they finally debut here, the Lumia 800 will retail for $584, and the Lumia 710 will bear a price tag of $375.)
So why the wait?
For Nokia, the United States is not a very important market. At the end of 2010, its products made up 7.8 percent of all U.S. smartphones, but 32.6 percent of all smartphones worldwide. It's been a long time since Americans were obsessed with the Nokia cellphone that came with the classic Snake game.
But the Nokia product announcement was made in conjunction with Microsoft, which is (still) an American company and which is already pouring millions and millions of dollars into Windows Phone marketing and events in the United States. These Nokia Mango phones have been seen by many as Microsoft's chance to make a dent in the U.S. smartphone market, where it trails behind Android and iOS by miles -- and where the iPhone 4S has just proved a minor letdown.
For Microsoft -- whose U.S. mobile market share has climbed close to 10 percent and which is feeling the momentum now with a successful OS rollout and impressive phones from HTC and Samsung around the corner -- the stakes seemed higher at Nokia World. These are the phones that were supposed to take on the iPhone 4S (and the Droid RAZR and Galaxy Nexus) in America right now; these are the phones that were going to make Windows Phone Mango a real presence in the United States.
Microsoft's allowing Nokia to hold its phones off the American market until after the holidays is a big mystery. Are they afraid of being embarrassed by iOS and Android this Christmas? Are they waiting for Siri envy and the hunger for Ice Cream Sandwich to settle down?
Or is Microsoft content with not being a player in the U.S. smartphone market?
It is clear that Nokia, as a hardware maker, knows where its bread-and-butter customers live. (Hint: they don't eat In-N-Out burgers.) But for Microsoft to sign on for a delayed U.S. release must be a disappointment to Americans looking forward to a Mango autumn and winter. It's a move that will allow Apple and Google to entrench themselves even more firmly in the battle for U.S. smartphone money.
Check out the video slideshow below to see some of the features available on the Nokia Lumia 800. To read more about what Nokia's new Windows phones have to offer, visit our coverage of the Nokia World event.