John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

AT&T’s Lumia Launch Less of a Splash, More of a Plop

As flagship product launches go, the Lumia 900’s was more unusual than most. Certainly, the decision to launch the handset on Easter Sunday was perplexing. But more confounding still was the manner in which it was carried out, which really doesn’t speak well of Nokia or its carrier partner AT&T, which in late March was hyping the Lumia 900’s launch as its biggest ever — and that includes the iPhone’s debut.

“At all levels, this is a notch above anything we’ve ever done,” AT&T device head Jeff Bradley said at the time. “Before you walk in to the store, you know this is our hero phone.”

Sounded great in theory. But what did it mean in practice?

Well, in practice it meant that consumers missed out on that hero-phone messaging, because there weren’t too many AT&T stores for them to walk into. Most were closed for the holiday, a detail revealed on an outgoing voicemail message that included no mention whatsoever of the Lumia, but a nice little plug for one of its main rivals:

“Visit our store to see the exciting iPhone 4S, and how only AT&T’s network lets your iPhone 4S download three times faster.”

An unfortunate oversight. And I was far from the only person to notice. Barclays analyst Raimo Lenschow picked up on it as well, along with a few other details suggesting Nokia and AT&T’s execution left a lot to be desired.

“Our admittedly anecdotal check of 10-15 stores did not find a single one that was open — a significant barrier to sales,” Lenschow said. “We found promotional materials for the Lumia — banners, display cases, etc. — unevenly prepared during our window shopping. The promotional messages on the answering services for the stores was in fact for the iPhone.”

More disturbing still was the lack of coordination Lenschow found at AT&T’s national sales office. “Several of the national representatives were unaware of the launch,” the analyst said. “Several were in fact unaware of the device itself.”

And then there was that Nokia-sponsored Nicki Minaj concert in Times Square. That seems to have gone over well (see video embed below), but more for Minaj than Nokia. Can’t imagine that stunt sold many Lumia 900s.

So, as I said, a perplexing and at times poorly orchestrated launch. Though it doesn’t seem to have had any ill effect on sales. The Lumia 900 has already risen to the top of Amazon’s Best Sellers list for Cell Phones With Service Plans, and AT&T seems quite happy with sales so far.

“The Lumia has gotten great reviews and we have been taking preorders online and in our stores for a week,” AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel told AllThingsD. “We are well off to the races.”

(Image courtesy of Flickr/NokiaOfficial)

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