Can Windows Phone 8 lift Microsoft, save Nokia?

Windows Phone 8 gets the full monty on Monday

With the release of Windows Phone 8 on Monday, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is hoping that the new mobile operating system will spur sales of the devices both among consumers and employees who bring their devices to work.

Microsoft currently holds a meager 2.7 percent of the smartphone OS market, even behind Nokia's Symbian OS, which the Finnish firm is phasing out, according to the latest Gartner stats, an embarrassment to the company that has dominated the PC OS space for decades.

The launch of Windows Phone 8 follows the release this month of its new Windows 8 OS and its bet on the tablet market, the Surface.

Handset manufacturers Nokia (NYSE: NOK), HTC and Samsung have provided sneak peaks into the Windows Phone 8, but now Microsoft is giving the public the full monty on Monday.

Nokia has continued to slip as a smartphone manufacturer, according to the latest stats from Strategy Analytics and Juniper Research.

According to Strategy Analytics, Nokia shipped 6.3 million smartphones worldwide for a 4 percent market share in third quarter of 2012, dropping from 16.8 million units and 14 percent share in the same quarter in 2011.

"Nokia has now slipped outside the top three global smartphone rankings for the first time in history. Nokia will need to ramp up sharply its Windows Phone volumes if it wants to recapture a top-three smartphone position in the next one to two quarters," observed Neil Shah, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics.

UK-based Juniper Research found a similar dismal trend for Nokia, which it blamed on consumers waiting for the new Windows Phone 8 to come out. So, things should improve for the Finnish manufacturer in the fourth quarter.

Good news for the Windows Phone 8 came out of the Gartner Symposium ITxpo held in Orlando, Fla., last week. David Cearley, vice president and fellow at Gartner, predicted that Windows Phone could surpass Research in Motion's BlackBerry by 2013 or 2014, and match Apple's iPhone market share by 2015.

While Microsoft would like to gain some smartphone market share from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android, Nokia's survival depends on Windows Phone 8's success.

For more:
- see Strategy Analytics' data
- check out Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 site

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