Adding more appeal to the Nokia Lumia brand, the Finnish handset giant has confirmed rumors that the devices will soon be able to stream TV shows from what broadcasters call "catch-up services." The service will initially debut in Finland.
The service will be a "signature hub" on the Windows Phone 7 devices, meaning that users can touch a tile on the home screen to access the service and be directed to programming offered by major broadcasters online after they have aired on TV, without any registration or log-in.
"With Nokia TV we are bringing existing services in Finland together in a convenient way," said Mika Suomela, head of TV and video at Nokia, on the company's Conversations promotional blog. "We're making it easier for people to find and watch TV, while supporting broadcasters' existing Internet TV business models."
"Finland is the ideal country in which to introduce this service due to its advanced mobile user base and great existing broadcaster catch-up TV services."
Nokia did not say whether the service will be offered for users in other countries, and our e-mail seeking comment did not generate a response in time for publication.
SlashGear reported that the service may soon be available in the U.K. or other countries that offer catch-up services, but a U.S. debut is uncertain.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told us that Nokia TV could add value to the Lumia brand, but it was less important than increasing the number of available applications in Microsoft 's Marketplace for Windows Phone. He said the catch-up hub is actually catching up to existing services.
"There are so many other streaming sites including Netflix and Amazon and you can get streaming with your cable service now," Dulaney said, referring to services like Cablevision's Optimum and Time Warner. "And of course there is always Slingbox. [This is] just another vendor selling content."
Sling Media's Slingbox allows users to control their cable or satellite systems and view content via broadband from a computer.
Dulaney warned that using streaming services on a smartphone can easily chew up a data plan. "Better make sure that you use Wi-Fi so you don't blow the data cap," he said.
Big Push for Lumia 900
Nokia and Microsoft are betting big on the Lumia 900, powered by Windows Phone's updated Mango operating system, which will debut Sunday via AT&T and run on the carrier's expanding 4G long-term evolution high-speed data network. The phone has been well-received by reviewers, especially for its low price of $99 with a two-year contract, and after a mail-in rebate the cost is free.
Nokia and AT&T have a marketing blitz planned beginning with a launch event in Manhattan's Times Square Friday night.
Last year, Microsoft and Nokia signed a deal believed to be worth $1 billion to replace Nokia's Symbian operating system, which never caught on in the U.S., with Windows Phone 7.
But even as new Windows phones reach the market, the platform's share in the U.S. has dipped, falling 1.3 percent from November to February, according to comScore. Google's Android and Apple's iOS are the dominant platforms.