The Nokia Lumia 900: Comeback Kid

Nokia Lumia 900Everybody loves a comeback, and AT&T’s launch event for the Nokia’s Lumia 900 has two comeback stories attached to it. Both Microsoft and Nokia are betting big on the success of this device, and AT&T’s promotional plan scales to match the urgency felt by both the software and hardware manufacturers.

Nokia has been largely absent from the US mobile phone market for a number of years, ceding to LG, Motorola, and Samsung. They have enjoyed moderate success overseas, but the US division had waved a white flag. The mobile phone manufacturer always harbored a silent belief that they would return to the US market when they found a point of differentiation that they could exploit in order to reenter the fray. As Microsoft makes a play to establish their shiny new operating system as a legitimate contender against Apple and Google, Nokia rose up as partner.

The device is equipped with Windows Phone 7.5, a precursor to the much lauded Windows 8 which claims to be a cross-platform affair that unifies all three major device classes–smartphones, tablets and personal computers–under a single framework. Microsoft’s presence in the mobile market is miniscule. Apple is clinging onto a slight lead over Google’s Android and RIM is dying a slow and painful death. It is RIM’s slide that opens a door for Microsoft and Nokia. The idea of a single operating system across multiple device classes will be very favorable for corporate buyers who know whatever devices they choose to deploy throughout their company will carry initial training and ongoing maintenance costs. One operating system streamlines the work of a corporate IT department. The Windows strategy appears to be aimed at medium-sized businesses who already buy enterprise-grade software from Microsoft.

However, the device that Nokia built to bear Microsoft’s reentry into the mobile operating system market is not really made for corporate buyers. The Lumia 900 is huge, dwarfing everything already on the market other than Samsung’s Galaxy Note which is marketed as a freakish tablet, smartphone hybrid. The crisp lines and bright colors that Nokia chose for the Lumina 900 look more toyish than businesslike. The design of the phone and the design of the operating system create some major cognitive dissonance.

But none of that has stopped AT&T from executing a promotional campaign fit for an industry-changing device. Jeff Bradley of AT&T, said in an interview with CNET, “At all levels, this is a notch above anything we’ve ever done.” AT&T is planning to make the Nokia/Windows phone their “Hero device” meaning that it will be the most heavily promoted in advertising and in-store. The price point, $99 with a 2 year contract, makes it the cheapest hero phone in the US market, and all advanced reviews of the device are positive even with a screen resolution that is substandard. Ironically, the success of this campaign, run largely by AT&T, will likely determine the future success of Microsoft and Nokia in the US mobile phone market.

Sean is social media and tech-enthusiast that spends his time exploring cultures, emerging technologies, and connecting with others. When he’s not learning the latest tricks for his gadgets or waxing philosophical find him contributing to ATTSavings or on Twitter @SeanTR.

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