LAS VEGAS--Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will continue to provide exclusive, unique devices running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software to U.S. carriers in a bid to grow its presence as it tries re-establish a foothold in the market, a senior Nokia executive said.
In an interview with FierceWireless, Chris Weber, Nokia's president of North America, said the company will continue its strategy of providing a broad portfolio of devices for the North American market at multiple price points and operators and with multiple user experiences.
"The most important thing we can do in the U.S. market is bring exclusive devices and opportunities to each of the carriers," he said. "Doing that exclusivity and giving them something unique allows us to get great carrier support."
Weber declined to speculate on what carriers Nokia might work beyond the stated commitments to partner with T-Mobile USA for the Lumia 710, which T-Mobile will launch Wednesday for $50 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate, and the LTE-capable Lumia 900, which AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) will launch in the coming months. However, with regard to Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Weber said: "They're a very important partner for us."
Weber said Nokia internally talks about how it wants to be the most operator-friendly company to work with in the U.S. market. He said the focus within Nokia continues to be working with carriers to create unique business models paired with each device. "I think it's critical for us to be successful in the U.S.," Weber said. "That's the way you get great carrier support."
Nokia will begin rolling out a marketing campaign for the Lumia 710, and Weber said it will be placed prominently in T-Mobile's stores and that the device has been seeded into T-Mobile's retail sales corps. He said that as the launch toward the Lumia 900 with AT&T ramps up, AT&T will engage in its own marketing and retail efforts to promote the device.
For example, while the T-Mobile partnership is specifically geared at first-time smartphone users, the Lumia 900 with AT&T will be geared toward those customers as well as those who want to switch from another smartphone platform. Weber said that for the business to be successful, Nokia will need to aggressively go after first time smartphone buyers and potential switchers, even though non-smartphone users are a larger population. "The reality is it's an 'and' statement, not an 'or,'" "We have to do both."
Weber said Nokia will be able to tell that the new strategy is working by measuring how much customers say they love Nokia's Windows Phones. "At the end of the day, if we have great consumer satisfaction, they recommend it to friends, they love those devices, every other business metric takes care of itself," he said.
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