CEO Pours Out the Juice on Nokia’s First WinPho 7 Handset

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop Thursday showed off the company’s first Windows Phone 7 device in what he described as a “secret” briefing to a room full of journalists.

The announcement comes hard on the heels of the company’s Wednesday reveal of the N9, a new Nokia smartphone running the MeeGo mobile OS.

Nokia’s WinPho7 device, nicknamed the “Sea Ray,” appears to be very similar to the N9, hardware-wise, and Elop took pains to accentuate those similarities.

“There is a whole collection of innovations available in the N9 that is going to live on,” Elop said while holding up the Sea Ray. These include the “beautiful industrial design,” Qt, and the user interface.

Elop also highlighted the Sea Ray’s Carl Zeiss 8MP camera, another feature also found on the N9.

Scanty Details About the Sea Ray

There’s little information out about the Sea Ray, apart from the fact that it’s very similar to the Nokia N9 and will run WinPho7.

Its appearance is very much like that of the N9, and it has the same 8MP Carl Zeiss camera lens as that device.

However, the LED placement on the back is reportedly different from the N9’s. Further, the Sea Ray has “one extra button on the top so you know it’s not the same device,” Elop said.

The Sea Ray is a “functioning Windows Phone device,” Elop stated.

When contacted, Microsoft suggested TechNewsWorld approach Nokia for further information, but the mobile phone vendor did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Possible Features of the Sea Ray

The Sea Ray could be a blend of the best features from Microsoft and Nokia.

“What we’re seeing is a product that has Windows Phone 7 at the core but is uniquely Nokia,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“Think of it as a super-smartphone, a product with all of the connectivity and features of a WP7 phone, all of the applications, but with a unique Nokia user experience and wrapped with a marketing program and an ecosystem that is Nokia-specific,” Enderle added.

“We’ll probably see N9 design plus NFC plus Nokia apps plus Microsoft apps such as Office, Xbox and Marketplace and Internet Explorer 9 in the Sea Ray when it hits the street,” Vishal Jain, an analyst at the 451 Group, told TechNewsWorld.

However, whether or not Nokia’s Qt cross-platform application and user interface framework will be included in the Sea Ray is a matter for debate, despite Elop’s shining the spotlight on it during his so-called leak.

Nokia’s applications “reside on Qt and, of course, they’ll bring Qt over to the Windows Phone 7,” Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

However, it’s “unlikely” that Qt will be made a desired platform for development on WinPho7 phones, because this “will push Microsoft’s own development platform onto the back seat and subsequently antagonize its developer base, which it wouldn’t like to do,” the 451 Group’s Jain opined.

Keeping the Sea Ray Afloat

Nokia’s and Microsoft’s efforts might not be enough to kick-start the Sea Ray or other WinPho7 devices, for that matter.

Microsoft’s problem is that it’s late to the highly competitive smartphone market.

“All the other stuff — the mobile apps and so on — are common to all the smartphones out there,” IDC’s Llamas stated. “The big question I have is, when’s the phone hitting the streets?”

There are hints that Nokia’s shooting for the end of this year, Llamas said, but that’s not a goal he’s convinced it will reach.

“You can shoot for the end of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can hit the mark,” Llamas remarked.

The Leak That Wasn’t

Perhaps the most peculiar thing about the Sea Ray announcement was the way in which Elop conducted it.

He began by asking his audience of journalists to put away their cameras and turn off all recording devices.

“This is something that’s super-confidential and we do not want to see it out in the blogosphere, wherever that is,” Elop said with a straight face.

So shhh! Don’t say anything.

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