Nokia hints of Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices in September

Several iPhone rivals appear to be gearing up to release revamped smartphones before Apple's expected announcement this fall.

Looking to grab attention before Apples expected iPhone 5 launch on September 12, Nokia will unveil new Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia devices the week previous, according to an online report.

If true, Nokias announcement would be the second major handset announcement before Apple unveils the next iPhone. Samsung on August 29 is expected to debut a new Galaxy Note phablet". Nokia plans to announce the new phones during a Nokia World event scheduled for September 5 and 6 in Helsinki, according to Bloomberg

Since announcing a Windows Phone partnership with Microsoft in 2011, Nokia, once the worlds largest smartphone maker, has struggled to maintain prominence in a world dominated by the iPhone and Google-powered Android devices. Recent sales of Windows Phone-powered Lumia devices have been anemic. The company shipped just 4 million Lumia phones worldwide between April and the end of June, but only 600,000 of those devices shipped in North America. During that same time, Apple sold 26 million iPhones worldwide.

Nokia and Microsoft are betting that Windows Phone 8 will help popularize Microsoft-powered devices in the U.S., where Windows Phone claims just 1.3 percent of smartphone users, according to Nielsen. The next-generation version of Windows Phone will feature a brand new, more customizable Start screen, improved screen resolution support to encourage device variety, removable SD storage, a new digital Wallet hub, near-field communication, and enhanced enterprise deployment features.

Beyond loading handsets with new features, the biggest challenge facing Nokia and other Windows Phone manufacturers may be convincing carriers to promote the devices in retail stores. Bloombergs recent report begins with an anecdote where a customer walks into a New York City AT&T retail store that wasnt even displaying or offering to show Nokias Lumia 900. That is just one persons experience to be sure, and may be influenced by a number of factors such as stock levels. What's more, the Lumia 900 is a dead end technologically since all current Windows Phones wont be able to run Windows Phone 8. Nevertheless, the failure of retail stores to push Nokia devices underscores similar problems PCWorld reported in June.

An attempt to woo carriers may be why Nokia is choosing to unveil its next-generation Lumia devices in September. The companys Nokia World event in Helsinki is an invite only affair catering to Nokias operator and retail partners. A perfect time to get Nokia retailers excited about upcoming devices.

Microsoft in June said Windows Phone 8 will launch in the fall.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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