Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the Finnish mobile-phone maker trying to win back users from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Samsung Electronics Co., struck a deal to get Verizon Wireless (VZ:US) to sell its new smartphone, said two people familiar with the plan.
The largest U.S. wireless carrier is set to unveil a plan next month to offer Nokia’s Lumia 928, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal hasn’t been made public. The phone has a metal body, 4.5-inch touch screen, 8- megapixel camera and wireless charging, said one of the people. It runs on Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s Windows software like other Lumias.
The device marks the first time a high-end Lumia will be sold by Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless, which has about 100 million customers. Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, has struggled to turn around its plunging smartphone market share in the U.S. since it peaked in 2001.
Nokia shares gained as much as 2 percent, erasing earlier losses, and were little changed at 2.39 euros at 2:08 p.m. in Helsinki. They have tumbled 19 percent this year, headed for the sixth straight annual drop.
James Etheridge, a Nokia spokesman, and Brenda Raney, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Phone shipments to North America fell 33 percent to 400,000 devices in the first quarter, Nokia said April 18. AT&T Inc. (T:US), the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier, added Nokia’s flagship Lumia 920 to its portfolio last year and sells it for $99.99 with a 2- year plan, and Verizon Wireless currently offers the Lumia 822.
Lumia sales globally rose to 5.6 million units from 4.4 million in the fourth quarter as Nokia added versions, and the company predicted at least 7.11 million Lumias sold this quarter as more models roll out around the world.
Still, Apple and Samsung dominate the global market with combined smartphone sales topping 100 million a quarter. Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android operating system, led by Samsung models, account for more than 90 percent of the market. Nokia’s stock has declined about 90 percent since the iPhone and Android were unveiled in 2007.
Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop, who joined from Microsoft in 2010, is into the third year of a bet that his former employer’s software will help revive Nokia’s sales. He abandoned Nokia’s homegrown software after it fell out of favor among consumers.
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