Nokia, the Finnish mobile phone group, has launched its first range of Windows handsets aimed at clawing back market share in the crucial battle for smartphone sales. Nokia’s once dominant position in the mobile market has declined at the expense of rivals such as Apple‘s iPhone and Google’s Android platform, having been slow to embrace the pace of change and consumer demand in the key high-margin smartphone market. Stephen Elop, Nokia chief executive, said on Wednesday that with the flagship Lumia 800 handset, it has produced the “first real Windows phone” under the partnership with Microsoft struck earlier this year. He has pinned the company’s hopes of recovery on this collaboration, aimed at producing a third mobile phone ecosystem alongside Android and Apple. Nokia also surprised the market by unveiling a second, Windows phone, the Lumia 710, which has been very aggressively priced at €270. The Lumia 800 will be sold for €420 without subsidy. “Lumia means light [and] a new dawn for Nokia,” Mr Elop told the Nokia World conference in London. “This is an important moment to show how Nokia can change its direction,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “But we are going through a transformation and that takes time.” Analysts have described the launches as a “make-or-break” moment for Nokia, given that a successful smartphone is seen as essential for its future, as well as critical to underpin any meaningful earnings and margin growth over the next few years. The competition is fierce – Apple, HTC and Samsung have all launched new smartphones in the last month. “Nokia have done better than I expected with these devices,” said Carolina Milanesi, analyst at Gartner, the research company. “There is a lot of buzz at this conference and there seems to be new confidence among the Nokia executives. But there is still a lot of work to be done, in terms of Nokia differentiating itself from other Windows phone makers such as HTC.” “They have done as well as you could possibly expect them to under the circumstances. But the next iteration of phones after this will be the ones that will really show what Nokia can do,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. Lumia Windows phones will have a gradual roll-out in Europe and Asia over the next few months, backed by an expensive advertising campaign, and alongside a range of new services in music, location, social networking and gaming. Some analysts were disappointed, however, that the phones will not launch in the US until next year. Nokia is also keen to address the lower-end smartphone market with the launch of four affordable handsets for emerging markets – with prices from €60 – under the Asha brand, which Mr Elop said would address the “blurring of the lines” between smartphones and more basic phones. One of the company’s key strategic objectives is to “connect the next billion” customers to the internet. Further Details: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/cffbf762-ffb6-11e0-89ce-00144feabdc0.html