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Nokia Needs Lumia 920 to Shine

Today as the company is fighting for its life, it is still burning through cash like nobody's business. What's more, its issues have been compounded by the fact that neither Apple nor Samsung have made enough mistakes to present it with an opening. Fumbling the ball as it did with the Lumia 900 does not inspire confidence that it can get the 920 right. But does it deserve a second chance?

Early Reviews Are Mixed

There is plenty to like with the Lumia 920. For example, it sports a screen sensitive enough that it can be used while wearing a glove -- I think that's pretty impressive, even if you don't live in northern states where it's cold. Also noteworthy is the phone's wireless charging support. The phone is by far the best on the Windows platform. It's powerful and feature rich. However, at the same time I do wonder about what looks like a considerable amount of excess.

For instance, it's unnecessarily heavy -- weighing 6.5 ounces, or twice as heavy as the iPhone 5.Also the Lumia 920 is taller and wider than the 900. While this helps slightly from the standpoint of an increased screen size, one loses the convenience of storage. For pockets, I would have to wear much looser pants. On the other hand, my wife may not have a problem if she elects to carry it in her purse -- although she'll develop some shoulder strength, albeit an unintended consequence.

Moving Forward

Overall, when assessing the 920, I would say the reviews have been positive. But it also comes with many questions. What does Nokia stand to benefit by having AT&T (T) be the exclusive carrier? Likewise, that Microsoft has exclusivity with the operating systems could be both a plus and positive. If Windows 8 turns out to be an overwhelming success, it could signal more entrants to that platform -- essentially adding pressure to any advantage Nokia might have developed.

On the other hand, if consumers don't embrace Windows, Nokia has nowhere to run.

Another concern is the cost of the 920 -- currently retailing for close to $800. I wonder if this is the market Nokia should be in if it wants to truly generate volume to ignite a turnaround. After all, Samsung took an entirely different approach in attacking Apple's dominance, which is to win on being the least expensive option while offering similar value. So far it has worked to perfection. So I worry that Nokia just might have priced itself out of another opportunity.

Bottom Line

Believing in Nokia at this point requires having faith that the Lumia 920 and whatever product that follows can be significant enough to avert the company's spiral towards irrelevance.

Likewise, making a bet on the stock today also requires investors to believe that eventually Apple or Samsung will slip up.

I tend to think there are better odds elsewhere. But that is not to say that Nokia can't enter the discussion and stay relevant. This will require producing phones that consumers will want and gaining enough market share from names such as HTC and LG.

So far the Lumia 920 looks promising. But let's hope the company does not botch this one.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the other stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.
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