The Lumia 900 is Nokia’s latest Windows Phone device, and it gets added to the quickly growing pile of other devices that features the Microsoft operating system. But this device is special. Not because of its hardware, what’s on it, or really anything else about the phone itself. In fact, what makes AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia so intertwined in this isn’t the actual device itself, but what it represents. This is the very first 4G LTE Windows Phone device in the US, on AT&T’s network, and that’s incredibly important for all the parties involved. It’s also the end of a long and involved story which began a year ago.
It’s no secret that Nokia hasn’t had much of a presence on the US market lately, especially when it comes to smartphones. As for Microsoft, they launched Windows Phone 7 with huge ambitions, but over the two years it’s been going, customer adoption has been rather low. In fact, many media pundits consider Windows Phone to be the loser in this field, with the iPhone and Android devices taking the vast majority of new customers. That’s the background of a meeting that occurred last year, when Nokia went to AT&T and asked to bring a new device to its stores. At first, the cellphone provider was skeptical. After all, Nokia isn’t that well known in the US, and Windows Phone hasn’t been much of a success. But AT&T was very interested in getting new LTE phones as soon as it could, because like every other carrier, they are trying to gain new customers that want this high speed access.
So Nokia went to Microsoft and asked for Windows Phone to support LTE, so they could build the device AT&T wanted. But for Microsoft, LTE was not a pressing issue. In fact, it was far down their roadmap. With a bit of insistence, the Nokia representatives managed to convince the software giant to revise their roadmap so that LTE would become a possibility. What followed was a very fast development cycle for the Lumia 900. Typically, a new phone takes around 18 to 24 months to go from design to being available in stores. But now, all three companies had a very big incentive. Microsoft wanted to increase its market share, Nokia wanted to gain some US presence, and AT&T would be getting the very first Windows Phone with LTE support, a major PR win. And thus, the Lumia 900 was born.
The story behind this device was nothing short of unique, and it’s clear that a lot of work had to be done for it to reach the stores in such a quick time frame. Of course, it’s no guarantee that the Lumia will actually succeed and customers will want to buy it. In fact, while most reviews are positive, others have mixed feelings about it. Still, it is a major milestone, and this insight information helps explain why all three companies put so much advertising and PR on this one release.