Nokia's new hope released next week

If anyone in Nokia believed in black magic, right now its board room would be covered with blood and human body parts, and hastily drawn pentagrams in a desperate bid to ensure the success of the new Lumia smartphones.

Nokia announced that it will release a range of Nokia Lumia smartphones with Windows 8 software on board next week and the release is cruical for the company’s survival.

The company’s new Lumia smartphones will either be the key to the company’s hopes for recovery, or its suicide note.  Our bet is that  the Finnish outfit will probably sing its swan song and then go back to making rubber wear, which was what it did before all this mobile phone lark started.    

Nokia said its high-end Lumia 820 and 920 phones will this week reach the first operators and retail outlets in France and Britain and later in Russia and Germany as well as other select markets. In the United States, AT&T will start selling the devices in early November. Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Lumia 822 and T-Mobile will offer the Lumia 810, Nokia said.

What happens next makes for one of the biggest gambles in IT history.  For Nokia there is so much riding on the launch that it is really not funny.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s cunning plan has burnt so many bridges, and painted the company into such a tight corner, that if someone sneezes at the wrong moment the whole house of cards could slide sideways into a hackneyed euphemism for event horizon and implode.

Elop signed a Faustian deal with Microsoft to run a marketing campaign for Windows 8 phones and then killed off the Symbian technology which once upon a time made it a star.

Since the restructuring, the company’s sales have dropped and its savings are being eaten into faster than an elephant which thought a quick dip in a piranha pond was a pretty neat idea.

Nokia had a huge pile of cash which is set to run out completely in two years, so the company has until then to turn itself around.

Unfortunately the company is trying to do so by pushing into the most high-profile and competitive market – that of smartphones.

For the last year the company has been experimenting with Windows 7 versions of its smartphones. While these have managed to get good reviews, they have been ignored by actual customers in droves.

To be fair this was not really a test of Elop’s plan. Windows 7 is not really designed for mobiles in the same way that Windows 8 has been, and all the expectation has been for the new Windows 8 phones.

But Nokia is not the only one playing the equivalent of the “die or die” card from the boardgame “Escape from Colditz”.  Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer needs the Nokia phone to be a success if his cunning plan to make his own company more relevant is to work.

Ballmer has come late to the idea that mobile is really important as a counter to the PC slump. He has put up $1 billion to get the Windows 8 phones into the shops.

There is a real danger when the Lumia 820 and 920 phones hit the shops that they will be completely ignored. If that happens, Elop and Ballmer will be fired, Nokia will be sold to the highest bidder for its patents and Microsoft will never recover.

So next week, with an absence of blood sacrifices, it looks like there will be lots of prayers said for Nokia and Microsoft, at least in Redmond and Espoo.