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Lumia Gives Nokia, Microsoft Ray of Hope

By Richard Adhikari
Apr 10, 2012 11:30 AM PT

It's still too early for official sales figures, but it seems Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T just might have something of a hit on their hands with the Lumia 900 smartphone.

Lumia Gives Nokia, Microsoft Ray of Hope

A check at press time of Amazon's bestseller list for cellphones with service plans showed two versions of the Lumia 900 -- cyan and black -- ranked as the top-selling devices.

"We're encouraged that the Lumia 900 is topping Amazon's cellphone best sellers list," Greg Sullivan, senior product manager at Microsoft, told the E-Commerce Times. "We're delivering a beautiful phone that people love when they touch it, coupled with exciting partners, such as Nokia and AT&T."

The Lumia Hype Machine

Nokia, Microsoft and their carrier partner, AT&T, are putting a lot into promoting the Lumia 900.

On Friday, Nokia sponsored a free concert by singer Nicki Minaj in Times Square.

On Monday, Microsoft set up an event in Madison Square Park to give people a chance to check out the Lumia 900.

Meanwhile, AT&T will be pumping $150 million or so into promoting the Lumia 900, Advertising Age reported.

"Is it going to be $150 million? $200 million? All I know is, it's a very big number," Ramon Llamas, a senior analyst at IDC, told the E-Commerce Times. The huge effort to push the Lumia 900 "shows that Microsoft, Nokia and AT&T are very confident in the device."

The Nicki Minaj concert "was a very clever below-the-line move to get the Lumia 900 out in the vicinity of Times Square," Llamas opined. "But how effective it was in getting the Lumia 900 out there I don't know."

Still, advertising "is a long-term thing, and it will take time before we see results," Llamas pointed out.

Nokia and AT&T did not respond to our request for comment for this story.

Pulling Out All the Stops?

It appears that AT&T, at least, will do what it takes to move the Lumia 900 out into consumers' hands.

"I called one of the AT&T stores in Boston and was offered a Lumia 900 at (US)$49.99 with a two-year contract," Llamas said. The salesperson said they have their marching orders to sell these to as many people as possible and part of that is selling it at a lower price."

Asked if AT&T wasn't concerned that low-balling the price might give consumers the impression that the Lumia 900 is a low-end device, the salesperson "said it's as fast as some of the other smartphones out there," Llamas stated. "The rubber hits the road when you try the device, and the Lumia 900 is delivering."

Although Microsoft, Nokia and AT&T "have high hopes for the Lumia 900," Llamas isn't sure it's selling as well as they want it to.

That's partly because the device is still new to consumers. "This is not like the iPhone, where for all intents and purposes, it's a mature product," Llamas pointed out. "There's more education that'll be involved in the Lumia 900, so we'll see more promotions and tactics on the part of Nokia and AT&T to help evangelize the product."

"We aren't sharing sales figures, but I can tell you we are optimistic about our short- and long-term prospects," Microsoft's Sullivan said.

The Lumia 900's Possible Impact on the Industry

If the Lumia 900 is a hit, "you'll see incremental interest in more Windows Phone 7 devices," Llamas speculated. "My hope is Nokia won't just stop at the 710 and 900 in the United States. We know there's a CDMA version of the Lumia 800 that's out in China, and we hope it arrives here in the U.S., maybe on Sprint or Verizon."

The success of the Lumia 900 would get Nokia into the U.S. market, where the company has been "sorely lacking," Llamas suggested.

Microsoft might see an increased interest in tablets running the Windows Phone OS if the Lumia 900 takes off. "People who really like the platform might use it on tablets because they liked the experience they had with Windows Phone 7, much like what we saw when Apple brought out the iPad and people went for it because they were familiar with the iPhone's interface," Llamas said.

Meanwhile, a strong showing by the Lumia 900 will have Apple looking over its shoulder, because "when you're one of the leading operating systems, you have a big target on your back," Llamas surmised. "Apple might want to leverage the UI or find a small company that offers some of the functions Windows Phone 7 does and make it their own."

The Lumia 900's success might also see Google revamping Android's UI and perhaps the specs of forthcoming products from its Motorola Mobility subsidiary, Llamas predicted.

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