Nokia Lumia 900: Wisdom Of Easter Launch Questioned
Nokia released its 4G LTE smartphone on a day when most stores were closed. Was it a marketing blunder, or a face-saving strategy?
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Nokia and its partners Microsoft and AT&T spent millions of dollars to launch the Lumia 900. The companies went so far as to hire rap artist Nicki Minaj to perform at a promotional event Friday in New York's Times Square.
But reports indicate much of the effort, and money, was wasted by the fact that the phone itself did not go on sale until Easter Sunday--when most stores were closed.
The New York Times reported that "nearly all 39 AT&T stores within proximity of Times Square in Manhattan were either closed for Easter Sunday or did not answer phone calls. The few that were open did not have the handset in stock."
Worse, the newspaper said that AT&T stores that were closed played an automated message that promoted the Apple iPhone and made no mention of the Lumia, which is Nokia's highest-end phone running on the Windows Phone 7.5 platform.
The decision to launch the Lumia 900 on one of the world's biggest religious holidays had many marketing experts wondering just what Microsoft, Nokia, and AT&T were thinking. Some speculated that the move provided the companies with some cover, in case first-day sales of the widely-hyped 4G LTE device flopped. Nokia hasn't commented on sales. Some online retailers, however, reported strong advance orders and sales. Amazon.com listed the Lumia 900 at the top of its "best sellers" list for cell phones with service plans on Monday morning.
Nokia and its partners did not stop at hiring shock artists like Minaj to promote the Lumia 900. The companies are giving away free song downloads and other goodies at a promotional site, FreeTimeMachine.com, and at live events Monday at various locations in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.
The free time machine concept plays off Microsoft's pitch that Windows Phone allows users to get essential information faster than rival platforms like iOS and Google Android.
Nokia struck an alliance with Microsoft last year, under which it is porting virtually its entire smartphone line to Windows Phone. The move is risky, however, as Windows Phone badly trails Android and the iPhone in smartphone market share. Windows phones held just 3.9% of the U.S. mobile market as of February, according to ComScore. By comparison, Apple's iPhone held 30.2% of the market, while phones that run Android held a collective share of 50.1%.
Nokia is hoping that the Lumia 900 will boost those numbers. For a phone that only costs $100 with a contract, the Lumia 900 has some impressive specs. The camera boasts 8 megapixels, large aperture (F2.2), wide-angle focal length (28 mm), and optics from German lens specialist Carl Zeiss. The Lumia 900 also has a front-facing camera for videoconferencing. The phone is powered by a 1.4-GHz Snapdragon processor, and it sports a sizeable 4.3-inch ClearBlack AMOLED display.
Nokia has said the 1830-mAh battery delivers 7 hours of talk time. Preinstalled apps include Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Xbox Live, which requires a subscription for online gaming and media.
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