Ballmer and Microsoft trumpeted the arrival of the fresh, new Windows Phone platform and expected for their product to sell and sell well. Faced with the daunting challenge of competing with Android and the iPhone, company officials remained humble and realistic of the task before them. Though the revamped OS offered many innovative features the lack of apps and the snooze fest hardware accompanying the launch proved far too much to overcome in the first year. Funny thing happened though. Windows Phone OS 7.5 (Mango) raised the platform to another level. So much so that the platform saw an acceleration of apps and capabilities that left the platform’s enthusiasts satisfied shifting the conversation from software to hardware.  That multi-year gap that the OS was supposed to take to catch up to iOS and Android in usability vanished in less than a full year. The next, and most important task, was for Microsoft to take stock of where Windows Phone was at and decide if their fledgling platform had what it takes to sell with the big boys. Enter Nokia.

Nokia, having their lunch ate from them, seemed poised to go down the drain when their newly minted (and formerly Microsoft exec) CEO Stephen Elop did what at the time seemed unthinkable; he struck a win-win deal with Microsoft to use Windows Phone as the OS for their smartphone lineup. A little over a year later and Nokia has already ascended to the top seller of second generation Windows Phone devices. This all without having a single flagship device selling in the US or China. If Nokia could crash the party and legitimately enter conversation before launching either the Lumia 800 or Lumia 900 how much better could the fortunes of Windows Phone become with Nokia’s trademark marketing skills? Time will tell, the excitement is rising and the expectations have become oh so great. Here is my view on why Great Expectations are not only welcome but warranted.

Change for the Better

I’m a proud owner of both a HTC Surround and HTC Titan. The thing is I can’t recall seeing a single commercial for either handset. The only people in my offline (real world) life that knew about the Titan was the people I told. No platform or device will sell well if this is the case. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone a single day without seeing an Apple iPhone ad. This sadly, was the same across all the Windows Phone devices being sold pre-Nokia. That’s why having Nokia launching in the US is change, not just for the sake of change, but for the better. Nokia is the only company I’d put on par with Apple when it comes to marketing their products. They do it in different ways but they are just as effective. Windows Phone needs Nokia to succeed; Nokia needs Windows Phone to succeed. There is no two ways about it this is a potential huge win-win situation.

Phone Not Platform Launch

Nokia & AT&T are launching the Lumia 900 in the next week. The buzz and intensity with which people are anticipating and praising the phone is unmistakable. This phone has “winner” written all over it. I’ll say it bluntly, no other Windows Phone matters the moment the Lumia 900 launches. It is the flagship of the platform and is oft spoken alongside the iPhone as best in class for build quality and beauty. The main problem Microsoft has always faced is they couldn’t single out any single device, no matter how superior, from its OEM partners to trumpet. This led to nondescript adverts to steered clear of showing off any devices and instead filled the adverts with too much talking. This is a stark contrast to how Nokia markets their Lumia lineup. “The beautifully different Nokia Lumia” is the final words and message the following advert leaves on the viewer’s mind.

I’ll tell you something else that this commercial does well. It never mentions Windows Phone. Not once! The viewer will associate all the descriptive phrases “alive with apps,” “so you can save money,” “save time,” “save the universe,” and “see your world come to life” with the Nokia Lumia. To the viewer you connect with the Lumia device, not the platform. Sounds familiar? It should as Apple does the same thing with the iPhone. In fact its basic consumer psychology. Check twitter and tech blogs and people are raving about the device not the platform. That’s a good thing. This all brings me to launch partners.

Carrier Support

Carriers promote products not platforms. Have you ever seen the commercial or billboard that advertised Android while trumpeting cheaper plans? I have, I see them all the time. This works for regional carriers because their only play is to go lower than the big carriers on pricing. Why else would you put up with horribly spotty coverage and ancient devices. AT&T don’t want any one company holding too much power, that is reserved for the carrier themselves. Nokia’s Lumia 900 gives AT&T the opportunity to draw in new carrier converts much like how the original iPhone did. I’m not saying it will be to the magnitude but it could based on the growing market size.

I recently visited a local AT&T store to check out the Lumia 900 in person. One of the Retail Sales Reps greeted me and proceeded to pull out the Lumia 900 (Black) at the first mention of Windows Phones. He was an iPhone user but he along with five out of six store associates were rocking the Lumia 900. He had nothing but good things to say about the phone and this coming from an admitted Windows Phone non-enthusiast. He said he’d be happy to recommend it once it goes on sale and it’s a great phone that will drive sales alongside the iPhone. When you add in the fact we’ll see AT&T produced TV ads and the fact the Lumia 900 will take over the store signage visibility will not be an issue. Retail Sales Reps proactively pushing the device like the reps I spoke with is cherry on top. So despite some of my tech blogging colleagues dismissing the role AT&T can play in a device’s success I’m going go with the sentiment that its better for the carrier to be actively for you than actively going against you.

Choice is Good

As much as people love the iPhone people crave choice. Remember when the “architect” in the Matrix movie told Neo that humans had rejected an utopian experience? That’s true in real life. Most of our problems and mistakes come because we’d much rather exercise choice than stay in a seemingly perfect situation. Nokia’s Lumia 900 is “brilliantly different.” It comes in multiple appealing colors and it feels great in the hand. It offers a premiere experience on a new and lively platform that is gaining much needed apps every day. People will seek out and find a great device in the Lumia 900. Its so beautiful and stands out from any other phone on the market. There is only one other phone like that, the iPhone. Again, choice is good and with sales reps pushing the Lumia 900 as the favorite choice there will be more than enough opt-ins to ensure the Lumia 900 is a success.

In my eyes the Lumia 900 is Beautifully Different. You don’t have to take my word for it, its just my Windows Phone View.

8 COMMENTS

  1. AT&T will destroy Windows Phone and Nokia, if they aren’t careful. AT&T wont out out bug fix releases and even when they do decide to grace their users will a little update live, its usually months behind other carriers. I bet money that they’ll screw up the Lumia’s upgrade to Windows Phone 8, in the fall.

    • @JD: I’m hoping that Nokia has worked out a deal to make sure the 900 gets the upgrade and promptly.

  2. @JD, We all know AT&T is evil, but this time I think Nokia is going to pay them Microsoft $ to ensure the upgrades are coming to all. I think WP8 will be coming to all Windows Phones at least the second generation ones for sure, this is just my opinion.

  3. I remain a skeptic about the update process here in the US. Only T-Mobile has shown that they are awake. But I think that is more of them trying to keep what little subs they have than it does with them truly caring for the customer. But, we will see on that one. I

    currently run a Titan and it is a solid piece of phone. Windows Phone 7 has a huge opportunity to be a rock solid #three system. But, it is just not about the sale. It is about service after the sale. If customers are treated like production line paychecks then Microsoft will lose. They must make sure the carriers are taking care of their WP7 customers.

  4. And that’s why I save my pennies and regularly buy cups of coffee for the fine folks at XDA-Developers. As the WP platform matures, so does the understanding of how to get inside the OS. Not looking for custom ROMs with a chef’s personal preferences. But update and backup tools are always welcome.

    I have to admit that the Homebrew 8107 batch file update (damn, I love batch files-use them every day) actually went smoother than any of the Microsoft updates thru Zune. In that I mean that I knew what was going on every step of the way. No squigly line or frozen screen effect.

    As long as the Lumia 900 has no problem with LTE/3G connectivity that would require the help of AT&T (and I bet they would work Sunday’s to rush that fix through) I will count on XDA to get me prompt, reliable updates. Yes, Microsoft needs to figure this out, and maybe a 25-30% market share will fix it without any added effort. But until then, I think we are covered.

    And who is to say that Microsoft didn’t feed XDA with the info they needed to get 8107 out to the masses. You know, sort of like the Ancient Aliens theory. Just sayin.

  5. Alright, a couple things. Thanks but no thanks. I got as far as, “the revamped OS offered many innovative features the lack of apps and the snooze fest hardware accompanying the launch proved far too much to overcome in the first year”

    Enough for me.
    That to me is the same tired drivel everybody who has felt the need to write an article has been compelled to put. And it’s just garbage. Where the “OS lacks” is/was not bad at all. And why is it that MS is held to a standard where their starting point, be it with “apps”, or hardware has to be so far ahead of where the others STARTED at? Why does MS’s latest starting point (I’m not one who forgets the leaps and bounds made with WM) have to be where the other two’s current point is in order to be seen as “relevant”?
    And with the overused, played-the-hell-out “apps” comments… MS doesn’t make the “apps”. But what they have done is make the need to depend on “apps” less necessary. And while at a lesser extent this was PRE Mango as well.
    And when the hell are you so-called experts going to finally be honest about this whole thing and lay it out… just how many of the apps on the other two are really worth a damn? Of the 500K on ios how many are really worth having, and how many people really have 500K on their devices (yeah, impossible)? See, that argument is about as relevant as saying my city has a higher population than yours… in the end, who gives an honest damn?
    Tell me the top 50-100 and we can see what’s what. Till then it’s pointless just like the thousands, upon, thousands of “apps” for WM including minor things like themes were pointless.
    Every now and then I’ll torture myself and read through the comments on pages like this and end up laughing, or SMH at the MS related doom-and-gloom comments from the point and click analysts who try to bury them. C’mon people, and please understand this is NOT to be on some fan boy crap, but does MS really fail? And if so, when???
    A lot of the same crap was said about them when they put out the first X-Box, and it couldn’t sell in Japan, and Playsation, Nintendo were killing them, etc.
    What happened with all that? I mean they are laying the hammer to the others without catchy heartfelt over-emotional commercials, or a little green mascot dude. Looking at all that, what logically makes you think they will fail here?

  6. Respectfully, Sean, perhaps you SHOULD have read the entire article. Just a few sentences later, the author (Murani) mentioned that apps aren’t the thing at all. The bulk of the article is laying out the non-app reasons for positive anticipation that the platform will succeed.

  7. Yeah, sorry folks. I read after I popped off. Figured I could just kinda slink away without being noticed. :-/

    ;-)

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