Ina Fried

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Nokia Smartphone Chief Jo Harlow on Why Carrier Exclusives Still Make Sense

While the same iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S and HTC One models are typically made available across a wide range of carriers, Nokia has been taking a different approach in the U.S. market.


Since reentering the U.S. market with its first Windows Phone models a couple of years ago, the company has chosen to give exclusivity for each model to one of the major carriers.

With Nokia’s new 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 cameraphone, for example, AT&T will have the exclusive. Verizon, meanwhile has the Lumia 928, while T-Mobile is stocking the new Lumia 925, along with the low-end Lumia 521.

Though not without its downsides, smartphone business head Jo Harlow said doing so gives carriers more reason to promote the Windows Phones than it might if the same phone were available at a rival.

“Giving something exclusive or unique has been more of an incentive to support the devices in market,” Harlow told AllThingsD in an interview after Thursday’s launch of the Lumia 1020.

Getting support from carriers — from subsidies, to advertising, to interest from in-store sales representatives — is critical in the U.S. market, where the bulk of phones are sold on contract through mobile operators.

The downside is that some would-be customers for a new model hold off because it is not available on their carrier of choice. Harlow acknowledges the challenge, but said, for now, the company is sticking to its strategy and just trying to make sure it keeps rapidly introducing new models.

“Certainly there are trade-offs in either direction,” Harlow said.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald