Who Dunnit? Nokia and the Elusive Lumia 920 Contract

Disappointment. The 920 will be an AT&T exclusive. Everyone who has even vaguely been keeping up with the Lumia 920 madness has been looking forward to its release. No, I don’t care about the 820 or Nokia’s other variants in its 8 series; its screen isn’t large enough.

Various sources state that both AT&T and Verizon are in the 70 million user range, each. I have no idea what percentage of these users were even looking at the Lumia 920 as their next device, but whatever that number is, it is now half of what it could have been before this tragic news. I’m not saying there was a feverish madness over the 920 like there was over the iPhone 5, but that is kind of the point. Why is it being released in the same, antiquated marketing strategy that Apple employed for the first 3 iPhone generations? Whosever’s fault it is (yes, FAULT) that the 920 will be an AT&T exclusive, I cast digital shame upon thee with a hefty dose of binary fire and brimstone. But who’s fault is it? I am in a finger pointing mood.

Only speculation has been published so far as to why the Lumia 920 will only be released on one of the US’ four major wireless networks. Every other blog is as sure as the next that it’s the carriers’ fault. The other thinks it’s Nokia’s or Microsoft’s fault. I am going to take a food chain look at this question.

Top of the Food Chain: Microsoft

I simply don’t know how much MS is at fault here. As far as I can tell, they just make the software and hand it to phone makers. They don’t deal so much with the carriers. BUT, if MS was truly involved and really wanted to see their WP8 baby be born and live a long successful life, they would have more of a say in which carriers should/can have their phones. HOWEVER, MS has shown it genuinely and honestly wants to be a powerful competitor in the smartphone market; WP8 truly does look promising, beautiful and different. Therefore, MS might be as pissed as I am that WP8′s flagship Lumia 920 will be available to less than a quarter of the smartphone market.

Microsoft is the bigger company with a wider variety of products in various forms (hardware, software). They have the least to lose in terms of being able to keep its doors open if WP8 fails. There are various Windows Phone 8 phones out there, such as the ATIV S and HTC 8X (or S, or whatever), so MS isn’t relying so much on a specific phone to get WP8 out there. BUT, it is skating on thin ice, and bad press from associating with third party partners will lower image and trust and therefore, sales. MS literally needs everything to go well and they need to appear like a company that has it together against the iOS and Android behemoths. Yet there is only so much MS can do when it has a three way partnerships with phone makers and network carriers (or lack thereof). MS will be somewhat linked to their misbehaving partners, no matter how irrelevant (920′s PureView camera showcase fiasco) or relevant (920′s exclusivity to AT&T) the issue.

Solution: MS makes their own smart phone, which they are rumored to be making/releasing sooner than we think.

Second in the Food Chain: Verizon

If Verizon is to fault here, BIG BAD BOO ON YOU BIG RED. I know you (Verizon) don’t need it, just like you didn’t need the iPhones for a while. But then you did need the iPhones, didn’t you? Additionally, Apple really would not be where it is today if Verizon et al did not offer the iPhone 4 onwards.

Looking at the past, many people did not think the iPhone would actually take off at all; high profile tech leader Steve Ballmer said it would never catch on (despite his MSness.) In the end, it worked out with the iPhones; it revolutionized our lives and became a huge success and Verizon et al had to get on the band wagon. WP8 and its beautifully different flagship Lumia 920 could follow history and use iPhone marketing tactics, right? This “carrier exclusivity” approach makes me skeptical because Nokia/MS is NOT Apple and they have to work much harder to break into this market. The 920, as cool as it looks, will simply not have the impact the first iPhone had.

Solution: Network carriers stop playing with our emotions.

Third in the Food Chain: Nokia

Nokia is under huge pressure to the extent that if it does not perform this time around, good luck.

If Nokia decided that it would be a great move to restrict the 920 to only the 2nd best wireless network in this vast country, then they absolutely deserve miserable failure, digital shame and binary fire and brimstone. But I don’t think it was entirely you, Nokia. You are desperate, but you’re not a masochist, or are you?

There are times when many of us believe (know) we can do a better job than the person in charge of a particular service. For example, NYC’s subway system could benefit from, say, competence. I am experiencing one of those times when I think of this matter. I refuse to believe that Nokia’s head or marketing does not see that their premium device’s exclusivity to AT&T is a.bad.thing. I am sure there are reasons/groveling excuses, but those reasons don’t put Lumia 920s into as many hands as possible. It just seems illogical for a company that is grasping at twigs to offer its flagship company-saving product to only one network in the US. It’s like a drowning person making only a mild effort to save themselves. So, it looks like Nokia, despite it’s desperation, may have been masochistic in its actions.

On the flip-side, Apple was none the wiser their iPhone would take off as well as Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video. So perhaps Apple’s cautious strategy to test the waters before making the iPhone openly available on most carriers is an appropriate approach that Nokia should take with its Lumia 920. Pffff…

Simple answer to a very complex question: it’s Nokia’s and Verizon’s faults, but AT&T is taking advantage of a desperate Nokia crack head by offering the biggest, juiciest crack rock. After all this attention, love and patience, Nokia spits in our eyes and goes for the crack rock.

Solution: Nokia, stop selling out to AT&T and just offer it to everyone. You know this is your last ditch effort, so why hold back?

Whatever the deal, Nokia and Verizon need to tell us more instead of this “hiding information from the consumer to create hype” BS. Apple’s got that down. Nokia/Verizon does not as we can see from their confused and fumbling marketing and PR.