AT&T's Nokia Lumia 900 launch fizzles - Top Turkeys 2012


Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) introduced the Lumia 900 to much fanfare at the January 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. The device was Nokia's first Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone with LTE.

AT&T in March confirmed it would launch the high-end Lumia 900 April 8 for $99.99 with a two-year contract. A few days later AT&T ratcheted up expectations for the device significantly, indicating that it would roll out its largest marketing effort ever for a phone, making the launch bigger than even Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.

And on the device's launch weekend, AT&T and Nokia conducted a promotional concert with pop star Nicki Minaj in Times Square in New York City. The companies also ran ads featuring Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Parnell telling people that the "smartphone beta test" was over now that the Lumia 900 was for sale.

Yet everything did not go exactly as planned. The companies launched the Lumia 900 to few lines--many stores were closed on April 8, which was Easter Sunday. The launch was also hindered by a software glitch that affected some Lumia 900 customers' ability to connect to data networks.

By July the Lumia 900's price was cut in half to $49.99, though both Nokia and AT&T insisted that sales were doing well and that the price change was part of normal business operations. Yet it was clear that the device did not move the needle much for Nokia in the second quarter, as the company revealed it sold 600,000 devices in North America during the quarter--the amount it sold in the first quarter when the Lumia 900 wasn't on sale.  

The launch had problems, not least of which because it was scheduled for Easter. Today, the companies are trying again with the Nokia Lumia 920, which features Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software. It remains to be seen whether AT&T and Nokia will be able to recover from the missteps of the Lumia 900.