Strong Launch of Lumia 900 Disrupted by Bug

by Jeff Wiener on April 12, 2012

It’s funny how quickly things change in the mobile industry. While no official sales figures had yet to be released, on Tuesday the tech world was cautiously optimistic about the future of Nokia’s Lumia 900, the company’s first real attempt at creating a Windows Phone smartphone. In fact, it seemed that Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T were all taking the launch very seriously, pouring in advertising dollars in an attempt to drum up interest for the fledgling device.

But this is Nokia we’re talking about here, a company plagued by inconsistency and failure, and you just knew it couldn’t last. In a statement yesterday the Finnish company acknowledged a memory glitch that effects data connection on its Lumia 900, a quirky little issue that has many users unable to connect to AT&T’s network.

In an effort to not permanently tarnish its recently refurbished name, Nokia is taking drastic steps to solve the issue, offering an expected fix by Monday and offering all people who have purchased or will purchase the device before April 21st a $100 credit to their AT&T bill, meaning that the phone is, for a limited time, ostensibly free.

As I said, nothing screws up a strong launch of a product with high expectations than an annoying bug that interrupts data connection. “To have a memory issue causing disruption to what was otherwise, apparently, a fairly good launch, with prime time ads and reasonable reviews, is the last thing they needed – particularly in the U.S.,” said Tim Shepherd, analyst at Canalys.

Truth be told though, rather than another disappointing  flagship smartphone that Nokia has pinned all its hopes on, I’m starting to see the Lumia 900 for what it really is, a hardworking pioneer. In a North American mobile market dominated by Apple and Samsung one simply can’t expect consumers to become suddenly interested in a fledgling brand, they need to be educated, evangelized, and sold on the notion that there may be something out there as good as an iPhone or a Galaxy smartphone; meaning that while the Lumia 900 may not make muchmoney, it may pave the way for its successors to do so.

It’s a point that Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T recognized early, pouring in huge amounts of money to bolster consumer awareness of the Lumia 900, hoping that through extensive ad campaigns, cheesy Times Square concerts, and iPhone smear tactics the new Windows Phone device would not only be a success, but pave the way for future Nokia/Microsoft collaborations to become serious players in the mobile game.

In fact, should the Lumia 900 truly become a hit there’s no telling what doors would be open to Nokia and to Microsoft, with analysts speculating that a successful Lumia 900 could mean more Windows Phone handsets on other American carriers and an increased interest in Windows 7 tablets. Beyond that, analysts also speculated that a strong Windows Phone smartphone could be a catalyst for industry wide change, with both Apple and Google potentially making changes to their respective operating systems to match what a W7 smartphone offers.

While I’m cautiously optimistic that the Lumia 900 brand and Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS will be able to weather this glitch storm, the same can not be said about Nokia’s bottom line, as one simply can’t make money when all the revenues are poured back into fixing glitches and offering rebates. The question now becomes, how long can Nokia operate in the red before it will need its Lumia product line to start making some serious money?

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