Nokia has cancelled the launch of a touchscreen phone that it planned to introduce exclusively with AT&T at the Mobile World Congress Show, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The cancellation would be one more missed opportunity by Nokia in an unsuccessful, multiyear quest to gain a stronger foothold in the U.S.
The Journal report follows one earlier in the week from the Pocketnow blog, which leaked photos of the phone and later reported that AT&T had decided to cancel it.
In a statement, Nokia declined to say whether it had cancelled an imminent phone launch. “That said, it is well publicized that we are working hard to regain leadership in the U.S. market and we are in active discussions with our operator partners on that strategy,” the company said. “We look forward to bringing meaningful solutions to market together with our operator partners and when we have something to announce, we will do so.”
Nokia, which once had a considerable presence in the U.S. and is still the largest phone maker in the world, now has only a tiny share of the market. The company is thought to have had trouble negotiating with U.S. operators, which typically subsidize handsets in exchange for two-year contracts from customers. Nokia has launched smartphones in the U.S. in the past few years but typically it sells them directly to consumers at full price.
Nokia has talked for several years about staging a comeback in the U.S. It has opened research facilities here and launched flagship stores, which it has since closed. The company says the U.S. market is important, especially as applications on mobile phones grow in importance and many influential developers are in the U.S.
However, Nokia has struggled to deliver cutting-edge smartphones attractive to U.S. customers. It uses the Symbian operating system, which has been criticized for having an outdated feel. It is also developing, with Intel, an operating system for high-end phones called Meego, scheduled to appear on phones this year. The head of the Meego development operation recently left Nokia.
Nokia has also been transitioning to new leadership. In September it appointed Stephen Elop, a Canadian who is formerly an executive at Microsoft, to lead the company.