BERLIN -- Fresh from acquiring Nokia's handset business, Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled the first of its new range of Lumia smartphones Thursday, priced to challenge a market dominated by volume leader Samsung and Apple.
A week before Apple (AAPL) is expected to launch its new iPhone 6, Microsoft, which paid $7.2 billion this year to acquire the Nokia (NOK) business, introduced at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin its new "affordable flagship" phone, the Lumia 830.
The new Lumia will sell globally at a price of around 330 euros ($433), before taxes, or upward of 400 euros($525) in all.
As previously expected, Microsoft also introduced a five megapixel, front-facing camera phone called the Lumia 735 which has been dubbed the "selfie-phone" since it was demonstrated in-house to Microsoft employees in July and features a wide-angle lens for close-in photos of small groups or individuals.
The Lumia 735 will be available globally this month for 219 euros, before taxes or subsidies, for a version designed for the latest 4G networks while the third new phone, the Lumia 730, is priced at 199 euros, excluding tax, which will run on more commonly available 3G networks.
The new phones flesh out the upper end of the Lumia line-up, which has regularly won good reviews from technology experts but has yet to gain a significant following from consumers.
Smartphones run on Microsoft's Windows software, mostly Lumias, captured only 2.7 percent of the global smartphone market in the second quarter, down from 3.8 percent the year before, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
In comparison, Google (GOOG) Android phones had a smartphones market share of 85 percent, while Apple's iPhone had 11.9 percent, down from 13.4 percent a year ago. Samsung, the market leader among Android-based phone makers and in smartphones overall, had a market share of 25.2 percent, down from 32.6 percent a year ago, as a result of increasingly stiff competition from lower-cost Chinese makers.
Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said Microsoft is focusing on a mid-tier strategy with a good mix of hardware and software that represents "another step in the right direction."
But while the Lumia line is gaining some traction among marketers and app developers that it needs to draw in consumers with creative software and services, he said Microsoft must become a bigger player before the industry considers it a third, "must-support" mobile platform as Android and Apple already are.
Microsoft's new chief executive, Satya Nadella, has often said the company must be "mobile first, cloud first" in order to compete in new tech markets and extend its dominance in computing beyond the PC into phones and Web-based software.
-With additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle.
8 Best Things to Buy in September
Microsoft Debuts New 'Affordable Flagship' Lumia Smartphone
Although summer isn't officially over until Sept. 23, most people consider summer a done deal at the end of August. As such, summer gardening season comes to a screeching halt and seeds, flowers and other gardening goods aren't as popular of a purchase. "Nurseries want to offload their inventory before the official end of summer," explains Tran. "We've seen markdowns ranging from 20 percent to 75 percent off."
The iPhone 6 release date is scheduled for early September, which means several things. First, the older models -- even if they've never been opened -- will instantly lose some of their value as they're deemed "old news." It also means that pre-owned iPhones will hit the used market as consumers trade in their goods for the latest version. According to data by NextWorth, iPhones drastically lose their value six weeks before the new phone launches and hit their lowest price at the time of the launch. This low price remains steady through the end of the year.
If there's one thing we know for certain, it's that denim will never go out of style. It's especially on trend throughout the fall, though, as it keeps you warm, comfortable and fashionable. "Hot tag" prices on denim also serve as a way to get shoppers in the door to buy other cool-weather duds that, most likely, aren't on sale.
Most shoppers have already purchased their new patio furniture, decor and grills for the year. In fact, many are already thinking about putting them into storage, which is why all outdoor furniture, umbrellas, lighting, grilling supplies and similar merchandise is being put on clearance. "Look for markdowns in the 60 percent to 75 percent range as retailers clear room for next season's merchandise," says Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey.com. While discounts may deepen as the month goes on, there will be less to choose from, so plan accordingly.
At the beginning of every school year, you can pretty much count on retailers going into panic mode as they realize they have way too many pens, erasers, folders, pencils and other school supplies left over from the back to school rush. Their plan? A sale, of course. Tran says that savings will generally fall into the 25 percent to 75 percent off range for these excess school supplies. Consider stocking up on items you may need throughout the year, or buy items you can use at the beginning of the next school year.
Just as grilling and gardening wane at the beginning of summer, so does bicycle riding. Even if you're not planning to ride a new bike in the coming months, it's a wise investment to make if you foresee yourself needing one for next spring. Expect to find slashed prices on bikes for riders of all ages at both online and local stores.
We're not saying you should run out and buy a car just for the heck of it. That said, if you need a new vehicle, shopping around now is a wise idea. ConsumerReports says that next year's models hit the car lot in late summer through fall, which means 2014 models are appropriately discounted. Make sure you get the best price.
It may seem overkill to plan your Thanksgiving and December holiday adventures in September, but your wallet will thank you for doing so. The best time to buy plane tickets is six to eight weeks in advance for domestic flights, and 11 to 12 weeks in advance for international flights. To ensure you snag a good deal, sign up for price alerts and airline emails on specials and price decreases. In addition to shopping around for your plane tickets, BankRate.com says that "several industry experts recommend booking your car as soon as possible." You can also save money when booking things together, such as a hotel, car and flights.