We’ve already seen Microsoft try to buy the love of carrier retail employees, but it would seem that Nokia is the one coughing up cash this time around. According to WPCentral, Nokia could be paying up to $25 million to get AT&T retail staff to use a Nokia Lumia 900 as a “Company Use” device.
This would basically mean that when you walk into an AT&T store, where you’d normally see guys in blue shirts tapping away at an iPhone or Android device, you’ll instead see guys in blue shirts holding colorful Nokia Lumia 900s. They’ll have to effectively give up their current device to get the free Lumia 900, but those who choose not to abandon their existing platform can do so. They’ll just have to pay for that phone at a discount, rather than receive a free Lumia.
On a general level, this makes a lot of sense strategically. The average buyer trusts salespeople with gadgetry purchases, and seeing that this or that phone is the one your sales rep actually uses can make a big difference.
The problem is that WP7 was way late to the game. While Apple and Google were revolutionizing the smartphone arena, each offering something varied from the competition, WP7 came late and gave nothing truly original to achieve hype. Sure, the platform is compelling, and the hardware is excellent to boot. But when Android and iOS have mind share like they’ve had, Microsoft really needed to bring something amazing to the table.
Instead, they brought something different, good, and cheap. This works, too. There are still plenty of people in the world looking for their first smartphone and the WP7 platform truly does make the most sense for many of them.
It would have been nice if this came about more organically, but based on the timing, I’m glad to see the Nokiasoft partnership fight for sales. If they can pick up enough momentum, the mobile landscape may look very different in the next year.