Ina Fried

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Nokia Confirms Lumia 900 Software Glitch, Offers Fix and $100 Credit

Nokia said late Tuesday that it has identified a problem that has left some early Lumia 900 customers unable to connect to the Internet.

Nokia U.S. chief Chris Weber told AllThingsD that the problem is a memory-management issue with the phone’s software, and is not tied to any hardware issues or to a flaw with AT&T’s network. The connection problem affects only a limited number of customers, Weber said.

Nokia has created a software fix, and all customers can swap their device at an AT&T store for an updated one or download a software update starting around April 16.

“We’re already manufacturing devices with the new software,” Weber said. “Those are being shipped to AT&T stores.”

The company is offering a $100 credit to all customers, regardless of whether they are encountering the problem. The $100 credit is also being offered to any customer who purchases a Lumia 900 before midnight PT April 21, effectively making the device free.

“The customer always comes first, and I think we’re showing it here,” Weber said in an interview.

Weber said the cost of the program depends on how many people purchase Lumia devices through April 21, and said that the expense was not the issue.

Nokia, he said, was focused on “how do we do something unprecedented for any inconvenience, (and) pleasantly surprise the customers.”

Nonetheless, the issue is clearly not the way the company hoped to launch what is designed to be a flagship product aimed at reestablishing the company as a major smartphone presence in the U.S.

“Obviously you don’t want these things to happen,” Weber said.

AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg noted in his review that he experienced some other issues with the 900, including problems loading Internet Explorer pages over Wi-Fi.

Weber hopes the company will be remembered more for how it handled the problem than for the issues themselves. And, he said, visits to six Chicago-area stores on Monday affirmed for him that enthusiasm for the Lumia 900 is strong.

“We’re seeing incredible customer excitement and buzz,” Weber said. “I think we have a very compelling device that customers are excited about.”

Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T are all counting on big sales for the device and have said they are putting unprecedented marketing behind its launch.

Oddly, though, the product went on sale on Easter Sunday, a day when most of the Microsoft and AT&T stores that carry the device were closed.

As for how such a significant issue could have made it through the company’s testing processes, Weber said, “That’s something we are doing a current investigation on.”

It’s particularly unfortunate given that one of Nokia’s marketing pitches for the Lumia 900 was an online and TV ad campaign saying that the Smartphone Beta Test was over, and encouraging existing smartphone owners to trade in their “beta” Androids and iPhones for a real smartphone.

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