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Rage against the train

The European Union has launched its own app for air and rail passengers stranded in the EU due to cancelations or delays to check their legal rights about refunds and rebates.

The app, simply titled Your Rights, is nothing extraordinary but what is neat is just how wide its coverage reaches. The app’s contents is available in 22 languages, uses local storage for data so no internet is needed and it’s available on Windows Phone, iOS, Android and Blackberry. It’s one of the first times we’ve seen such a massive simultaneous release and it’s nice to see Windows Phone right up there.

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From the app description:

“The Your Passenger Rights application provides users with clear and concise information on their travel rights within the European Union. Presented in a question/answer format, it allows users to easily identify the problem which they are experiencing and be provided with a clear explanation of their rights and the options available to them.”

Currently, the app only covers air and rail but it will extend to bus/coach and marine travel in 2013.

Sure, the EU as a concept and execution catches a lot of flak at times but it’s actually nice to see some pro-consumer legislation turn to technology for everyday use.

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Cyan Lumia 900 now available on Rogers in Canada

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Good news for folks up in Canada who’ve been pining for that Cyan Lumia 900. Evidently Rogers didn’t have the Cyan version, for whatever reason, and that has now been rectified. We’re not sure why Cyan took so long to get up there; our bet is the blame lies with Rogers just not requesting it.

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Well you can now grab the famous blue colored one for $29.99 on a 3-year contract or $524.99 off. We’re not here to tell you how to spend your money, but committing to a 3-year contract just seems crazy to us, especially with the non-update situation. But hey, for a loved one, this could be a great gift.

Source: Rogers; via Mobile Syrup; Thanks, Evan K., for the heads up

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Mush for Windows Phone

Care for a fine Windows Phone-exclusive Xbox Live release this week? You’re in luck then, because Mush from indie British developer Angry Mango is finally available after a whopping two years of development.

Mush

Mush is a bright and original platformer that plays a bit differently from the norm. The titular character Mush gains unique abilities based on his emotions. Draw a smile and becomes so elated that he floats; make him frown and he sinks way down low. Using 12 different emotions, you’ll help Mush solve puzzles and rescue his friends who’ve been trapped inside of Matroska dolls. Besides the creative emotion mechanic, Mush also boasts a beautiful and appealing art style. You can see it in action in our E3 hands-on video.

Mush costs $2.99 and there is a free trial. Don’t get too mushy on us; just get it here from the Marketplace.

QR: Mush

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WP Central

The human race enjoys shoving plastic and metal into (or around) the ear, but a new patent shows just what Microsoft had in mind to make this more enjoyable for those who listen to music while on the go. Think headphones, think Zune, now think of both of those connected as one, slapped on top of your skull.

As one can see in the above image, the headphones enable the user to connect a Zune music player to the side, while the opposite connector is free for rechargeable battery packs, storage extensions, WiFi adapters, and more. The Zune device looks to be a fairly minute music player, presumably along the dimensions of the Apple iPod Nano.

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According to the documentation, the headphones could also house controls to operate peripherals, not to mention an optional microphone and even USB ports. It's an interesting concept that allows the consumer to personalise the headphones to suit the individual needs.

The only downside is this patent was filled back in 2008 and we know that Zune hardware is no longer with us. Who knows, perhaps Microsoft also planned to include voice control - "Beam me up Ballmer!"

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According to a press release sent out by Nokia for a press event in New Delhi on July 6th, we could well be seeing the Dark Knight Windows Phones heading to India. BGR India reports that multiple sources have confirmed Nokia could be looking to launch the Lumia 900 in the country, which could sport a Dark Knight version if the above invite is anything to go by. 

BGR also reports that Nokia could also be releasing the Lumia 610, the low-end Windows Phone "Tango" smartphone. As well as new hardware, the manufacturer is expected to be unveiling the Nokia Music Store in India for Lumia Windows Phones, including the already available Lumia 710 and 800. To finish off, speculation also suggest a Mix Radio app could well be on the way.

Source: BGR, via: WMPU

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Jewel of the Nile

Yes, our DOTW images are getting more and more obscure.

Last week Gerbil Physics - a game that had never been on sale before - became the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. That must’ve been an aberration, as this week we get another repeat deal. Bejeweled Live is on sale again for $2.99, down from $4.99.Bejeweled Live

Bejeweled is the classic match-3 puzzle game that has enchanted casual gamers across a variety of platforms. If you’re hungry for a simple puzzle game to play whenever a spare moment pops up, Bejeweled is a good place to look. As our review indicates, the Windows Phone version has three ways to play: Classic, Race the Clock, and Endless. It’s also got some tough and grindy Achievements despite being a casual title, but that’s PopCap games for you.

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For the last few years, Mozilla, makers of the king of indie browsers Firefox, have been working on a new mobile OS called Boot2Gekko. The OS was built around HTML5 and CSS coding tools and it tended to look very much like Android and iOS—that is it was a collection of icons laid out in a grid with some notifications.

Today, in a somewhat surprising move they announced the re-naming of the OS to Firefox OS and they intend to put it on phones next year. In a press release, the company noted that it had deals with TCL Communication Technology (Alcatel) and ZTE to make the hardware for new devices with carrier partners Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor are all backing the initiative.

What caught our eye though was Sprint. The company who has the HTC Arrive, who claimed sales are miserable and were “thinking about” Windows Phone 8 but who were the only major US carrier to not publicly endorse it after the recent Summit.  This is the same company now throwing their hat in with Firefox OS which no one has even seen yet let alone knows what’s unique about it. Yet they can’t sign on with Microsoft and their one-two punch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8? Yeesh

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Microsoft wins "Xbox 8" domain names in dispute

MS obtains

Microsoft has obtained a handful of Xbox-related domain names after filing two disputes with the National Arbitration Forum. The domains were originally held by a Chinese resident by the name of Cheng Juan and included XboxPhone.com, XboxTablet.com, XboxLiveTV.com, XboxCompanion.com, Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org.

What's most notable here is are the two "Xbox 8" domain names. It's been known (speculated) for some time that the newest iteration of Xbox would be called Xbox 720. This was confirmed in a recently-leaked roadmap. However, that roadmap was 2 years old. Despite the fact that the latest Xbox will not be the eighth version Microsoft has put out, it's completely plausible that Microsoft would re-brand the new gaming console to fall in step with its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems, with whom it shares the same basic kernel. Keep in mind that the name "Xbox 720" really doesn't hold much significance either, nor does it have a nice ring to it.

Microsoft issued a statement to Kotaku addressing (to use the word loosely) the recent domain name acquisitions:

"Microsoft often acquires various domain names as part of its ongoing business strategy, but beyond that we have no comment."

Other similar complaints have been filed with the National Arbitration Forum for Xboxliverewards.com, Xboxsports.com, Xboxsmartglass.com, and Xboxmusic.com.

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WP Central

What's in version 1.2? Only the Shadow knows...

Although it has taken a very long time to get Audible on Windows Phone, the app has received two updates since its initial release just a few weeks ago. That’s some fast response time to what are presumably bug fixes and optimizations.

Version 1.2 just hit the Marketplace for Windows Phone with v1.1 happening sometime last week when it also popped up in the UK.

Unfortunately, the Audible folks don’t seem too keen on sharing release notes, so we’ll have to wing this one and just say “it got better, somehow”. We don’t use the app enough to figure out ourselves (we fall asleep to story narrations, we blame it on childhood) so we’ll rely on you to point out any new features or bug fixes.

Grab the free official Audible app for Windows Phone, now on mysterious version 1.2, here in the Marketplace. Thanks,  James M., for the heads up

Update: Reader Jack let us know that the app was also made available in Germany last week and this latest update fixes some translations issues for their language.

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LockWidgets 2

We've previously looked at the Locked Screen Widgets concept over at Windows Phone Hacker throughout it's development. We're now excited to report that LockWidgets 2 has been released and is now available to all (should you own an eligible Windows Phone of course).

What's all the fuss about? LockWidgets 2 is a complete rewrite of the original LockWidgets app, which enabled users to add widgets to their lock screen. The successor adds more functionality to the list with more opportunities present in the framework. Some highlighted features:

  • SMS widget
  • Weather widget
  • Battery widget
  • Runs in the background
  • Should run side-by-side with other homebrew apps, such as Folders, Battery Status, etc.

Features that are still in development, but are well on their way include an RSS widget, improved forecast info, more notification data, and a RAM widget. Check out the following video for more information and a quick run through.

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WP Central

Senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan

Since the announcement of Windows Phone 8 and some its new functionality, it's been unclear whether or not we would see some budget devices (256MB of RAM) sporting the new OS, or if the 7.8 update would be the only option (currently, Microsoft's answer to this problem are Tango phones like the Lumia 610). The question was posed by KnowYourMobile to senior product manager for Windows Phone, Greg Sullivan, who hinted that economical Apollo devices are a distinct possibility:

"I would argue those are not mutually exclusive strategies and that is in fact is our approach. We will continue to support the current platform with the 256MB footprint in devices like the Lumia 610. And one of the points about the new architecture is that it will scale both up and down," and then added, 'In fact, having support for removable SD storage will enable OEMs to build devices with less storage initially that is user expandable, so the bill of materials is potentially even lower for the handsets."

Sullivan also went on to explain Microsoft's reasoning on limiting earlier Windows Phone devices to the 7.8 update, despite major disappointment amongst consumers.

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WP Central

The Lumia 900 - Winner of the 2012 IDEA Award for Design

At this point, it’s little surprise to see Nokia continuing to win awards for its Lumia line of smartphones, specifically the Lumia 800 and its offshoot the 900. Earlier this year it won 4 awards at CES 2012.  But it’s still nice to see them getting the recognition and let’s face it they’re the only Windows Phone OEM in town winning design awards. Heck, they’re pretty much the only smartphone maker to win design awards, regardless of platform.

This year they won gold at the International Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Henry Ford Museum, official home of American ideas and innovation. The jury had some fairly nice words for Nokia:

“In a market in which it is difficult to stand out, the Nokia Lumia brings a fresh perspective. The iconic form is personal and inviting without sacrificing precision, and the construction is modern, efficient and well-crafted down to the smallest details. It’s a bold, gold-worthy effort, and I’m glad to see Nokia reclaim its design swagger.” Jonah Becker, Principal and Creative Director, One & Co.

From the Lumia 900 page:

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Yesterday we saw the release of the official Encyclopedia Britannica app for Windows Phone. The issue we had with the app was twofold: it fetches for $4.99 and there is no trial. On top of that, it looks like you have to pay that $4.99 a year to renew the app.

The question for many would be Is it worth it? Well, we ponied up for the app and show you what we think.

In essence, the official Encyclopedia Britannica app is well done. It’s fast, smooth and has a lot of features. In short, if you pay the $4.99 for this app you’ll get a fairly solid and reliable encyclopedia with offline saving abilities, pinnable entries to your Start screen, sharing options and a well done (but not totally Metro) UI.

WP Central

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Verious partnering with Deutsche Telekom

It wasn't long ago that Verious Inc., a leader in connecting developers with components and services for mobile app development, partnered with Microsoft to add Windows Phone development to their catalog. Verious already had a strong presence in the iOS and Android development community and the addition of the Windows Phone platform was seen as a plus. Verious is able to provide hundreds of pre-built mobile app components, open source projects, SDKs, and other tools to Windows Phone developers.

Today, Verious has announced a new partnership with Deutsche Telekom which enables Deutsche Telekom to launch the Developer Garden Component Marketplace for developers across Europe. This partnership will add significantly to the number of developer tools available for mobile application development. Deutsche Telekom previously announced plans to develop and promote tools that will help developers using Microsoft Visual Studio to mash up Deutsche Telekom's world-class network services with applications built for Microsoft Corp.'s device and cloud technology platforms. The partnership between Verious and Deutsche Telekom, coupled with the Deutsche Telekom partnership with Microsoft is expected to boost Windows Phone development significantly...

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A few weeks ago we reported on Aviary releasing their SDK for Windows Phone, allowing developers with little effort to plug in the company’s photo editing suite into any application out there. Rowi was one of the first to do this, allowing its users to quickly do sophisticated photo edits without ever leaving the popular Twitter app.

Today, Aviary has released Photo Genius, a standalone version of those tools for all Windows Phone users. The app is a “demonstration” one meaning it’s meant to show off what Aviary can do but for you all that means is you get an awesome, full featured photo editing program for your phone.

The app behaves like the “Auto Fix” feature built into Windows Phone. It analyzes a selected photo and then recommends a sweeping set of changes which you can enable with a quick “checkmark”. You can then compare the before and after images with a simple toggle, allowing you to see if you like the modifications.

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If you don’t like the alterations or want to do more, you can hit the “Edit” button and load up Aviary’s full set of photo manipulation tools. Such tools include controls for brightness, contrast, sharpness, cropping, rotation, red-eye fix, filters, stickers and more—it really has it all.

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Xbox Live - Pool Pro Online 3 exclusive preview

Pool Pro Online 3

Namco Bandai may be best known for their Pac-Man and Katamari Damacy titles on Windows Phone, but the publisher does dip into other genres from time to time. Case in point, their next game centers on the sport of pool. Pool Pro Online 3 comes to Xbox Live very soon, and Windows Phone Central has exclusive first screenshots to prove it.

Head past the break for our full preview and more screens!

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WP Central

Not great news today from the Windows Phone camp. It would appear that CNET have been chatting with Greg Sullivan from Microsoft and what he has said isn't what Windows Phone users wanted to hear.

It seems that Microsoft has know for a long time that Windows Phone 7 would be replaced by Windows Phone 8.

"It was right after Windows Phone 7," Sullivan said, speaking in an interview with CNET UK. The team that developed the 7.5 release actually was working in parallel with the core team that was already beginning [Windows Phone 8]. In fact some of that work was already initiated before Windows Phone 7 was even available -- so this goes back a little bit."

"It is true that this is a generational shift -- that is a rare occurrence, but it's something we don't expect to have happen again in the foreseeable future because of the headspace that the new architecture gives us."

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WP Central

With all the Windows Phone "Tango" update madness that's currently underway, whether you're forcing the upgrade or receiving it from the carrier, there's a number of networks pushing out the latest version of Microsoft's operating system. Vodafone Germany has joined this list with Windows Phone Central reader EvilEls sending in a screenshot of the Zune update process.

The updates are for the first generation Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone. The first being a firmware update, with the follow-up presumably the Tango upgrade. Device changes reported are as follows:

  • OS: 7.10.7720.68 => 7.10.8773.98
  • Firmware: 2424.11.8.5 => 2424.11.11.2
  • Radio Software: 2424.11.7.2 => 2424.11.9.1
  • Bootloader: 5.8.1.9 => 5.11.1.8

Omnia 7 Tango

Have you been Tango'd yet? Let us know in the comments if you've received the update or have forced it through Zune.

Thanks EvilEls for the tip!

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Dell Venue Pro doing the Tango

While the Dell Venue Pro has been discontinued, we were surprised to see the Windows Phone receive the 8107 update pushed out to the phone.  It was equally surprising today to see the Tango update hit the unlocked Venue Pro. While forcing the Tango update on the Samsung Focus S, we connected the Dell Venue Pro up to the computer and sure enough, the update notices appeared on the screen.

There was no need to force the Venue Pro to recognize the update and the previous updates to Tango (7740, 8107, etc) were installed first. Needless to say, it has been a while since my Venue Pro had seen the light of day...

When all was said and done the OS version on the Dell Windows Phone is 7.10.8773.98 and the firmware version is 2250.1800.7720.219. Because the process dealt with several updates, for me, the entire process ran about ninety minutes. If you have been using your Dell Venue Pro more regularly than I, the process may be shorter.

The Dell Venue Pro is a decent Windows Phone (still can't get used to the buttons) and it's nice to see the Venue Pro getting a little update attention.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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The folks at Igneous Software, the wizards behind some superbly crafted Windows Phone apps, have been busy working on updates for the popular (and highly rated) BBC Podcast Lounge. In an official blog post, Richard Castle goes into depth about what the team has been up to, namely adding auto-subscribing and downloading for favourite programmes in BBC Podcast Lounge 1.4, which is just about to go into testing.

There's more though. The team have also been looking at new project ideas, one that they've lightly touched on in the article. Many of us (who reside in the UK) deeply desire iPlayer streaming functionality on Windows Phone from the BBC, but we're still yet to see anything. Before you get overexcited and imagine Igneous Software developing an actual iPlayer on-demandTV app, unfortunately this is still not yet possible. 

Instead the team have been busy looking at a potential BBC iPlayer Radio app. A working prototype is currently being played with that enables the user to reliably stream the previous seven days worth of programming on any BBC national (and regional) radio station. Want to know something more amazing? This functionality is one step further than what's present on both the iPhone and Android, which offer only national stations. It's that much sweeter indeed.

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WP Central

Samsung has the Tango update but AT&T is not pushing it

Although AT&T itself is not pushing out any Tango-8773 updates for its current Windows Phones, the OEMs evidently have it on tap, or at least Samsung does.

We’ve had isolated reports that the Focus S was getting two OS updates (some are reporting new firmware, we’re still at 2103.11.10.1). However, whenever George Ponder or I would plug in our Focus S devices, it was always reported back to us that we had the latest update (7740).

The trick is to rig the system—basically use the same trick many of you did for Mango where you put your phone into Airplane mode (disable all radios), plug into Zune and check for an update. You then navigate away and go back to “Check for update” but as soon as it starts to look (about 2 seconds) you kill your internet on your PC. Now you wait about 30 seconds and an update will be shown. For more info on how that works, read our tutorial here.

You need to do that at least twice—once for 8112 and again for 8773 (Tango)—but yes, it does work and it’s officially from Samsung. We manually installed 8107 back in the day, so our phone was already on that OS version. The majority of you will need to upgrade to 8107, then presumably it will go to 8112 or 8773.

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Price tag for Windows 8 Pro upgrade is just $39.99

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With the anticipation and impatient wait for Windows 8, many have been wondering what the fee will be for upgrading from a previous version of Microsoft's operating system. The team have announced on the Windows blog that the cost to consumers who wish to take advantage of Metro, among other Windows 8 Pro features, is just $39.99. 

Competitive pricing that follows Apple's approach with the latest Lion instalment, Microsoft is set to open up Windows 8 Pro to a larger audience. Those who are running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 installations will be eligible for the upgrade discount. What's more is that you get Windows Media Center for absolutely nothing at all. Good job, big M.

By buying the upgrade through Microsoft's website, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will walk the consumer through the process step-by-step, making it as user friendly as possible. From detailed compatibility reporting (hardware and applications) to actually downloading and installing Windows 8, the assistant will make the consumer's life easier.

Items that can be carried through the process include settings, personal files and apps (depending on what system you're upgrading from). Of course, as well as the upgrade option, one can always choose a fresh installation. Once the Windows 8 Pro upgrade has been purchased, it can be transferred to external media, and Microsoft also offers an option for a DVD to be posted (for a fee).

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WP Central

Although some users complain that Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T aren’t doing enough for the Lumia 900, we can say we do like the presence of the flagship phone on our Xbox 360.

Many of you have noticed the occasional Windows Phone ad the pops up in one of the Xbox 360’s Home screen Tiles. When you click on it, you’re greeted with the image, which you see above, promoting the Lumia 900. What’s more, if you click on it and follow the directions, you can download and unlock a free Lumia 900 theme and Gamer Pic.

WP Central

The Xbox 360 Windows Phone Theme feat. the Lumia 900

The theme is fairly basic—white with a Lumia 900 dropping in the background and “Windows Phone” emblazoned—but it’s effective and we like it quite a lot. The Gamer Pic is a lot more basic with just a black box and “Windows Phone” being displayed. At least it sticks out.

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Nokia has Windows Phone "contingency plan"

Nokia has Windows Phone

Many have speculated that if Windows Phone 8 should somehow flop, then Nokia's goose is cooked. Not so says Nokia board chairman, Risto Siilasmaa. In his first television interview on Thursday, Siilasmaa said that Nokia has a "contingency plan" in place just in case Microsoft's mobile OS "fails to live up to expectations." That being said, he stressed that the company was confident that it would be a success, describing Windows Phone 8 as "a technological first, providing users with a seamless user experience across multiple platforms, from PCs to tablets and smartphones."

He defended Nokia's decision to ditch their own operating system after “Symbian’s market share has come down close to zero,” since it began to decline in 2008. Siilasmaa also stood by CEO, Stephen Elop, who "came in at a tough time." Nokia's stock has plummeted since making the move to Windows Phone and the Finnish manufacturer has announced that it will be cutting 10,000 jobs.

Contingency plan or not, Nokia's fate seems to be closely tied to the success of Windows Phone. They took a huge hit after the change in strategy, and it's hard to believe that they could survive a second one in such a short time.

Source: Yle Uutiset; Via: CNET; Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

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Microsoft, Nokia & AT&T had high hopes for the Lumia 900 back in January

Microsoft with the help of Nokia has stemmed the bleeding of market share over the last two years as the new comScore number just published reveal.

The number of mobile subscribers is up 0.1% to 4.0% ending at the end of May, 2012. That means those numbers include the launch of Nokia’s much hyped Lumia 900 on AT&T and softer launches of the admirable Samsung Focus 2 and HTC Titan 2.

That’s the good news because Microsoft has been losing market share to Android and the iPhone for a very long time now. If we look back to the same period in May 2011, you can see Microsoft had 5.8% of the market and continued to slide up until the end of May this year.

The bad news is multifaceted. For one, these numbers include Microsoft’s legacy Windows Mobile devices, which presumably have now mostly died off. Number two should be obvious. Although stopping the hemorrhage and gaining some market share for the first time in years, a 0.1% increase is hardly anything to be excited about—especially if you’re Nokia.

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