Nokia Lumia 900 Coming to AT&T for $99.99

Lumia 900

Roger Cheng reports for CNET:

Nokia’s Lumia 900 smartphone will hit AT&T’s store shelves on April 8, a move Nokia hopes will usher a return to the U.S. in a big way.

The phone will sell for $99.99 with a two-year contract, AT&T told CNET. It is one of the most affordable flagship products AT&T has ever sold.

The Lumia 900 is the first phone I’ve been wholeheartedly intrigued by — aside from the iPhone — in a very long time.

"4G"

Writing for The Verge, Nilay Patel has penned a scathing indictment of AT&T's forcefeeding of the "4G" label for the iPhone 4S. Nilay writes:

Owners of the iPhone will notice no difference in performance or data transfer speeds; the device will not magically connect to AT&T's shiny new 4G LTE network. It will simply receive a deceptive labeling change that allows AT&T to market the iPhone as a 4G device against competitive phones from Verizon — including, perhaps most importantly, Verizon's own 3G iPhone 4S. It is a triumph of marketing for AT&T, and a rare acquiescence to a poor and confusing user experience for Apple.

Although this change appears, as Nilay writes, to have occurred at the "impetus" of AT&T, it remains odd that Apple has complacently allowed for such a deceptive portion of the user experience. Regarding this topic, Shawn Blanc posed an interesting thought this morning on Twitter:

While this certainly seems viable, I would imagine that AT&T's pricing may be primarily responsive to Verizon's pricing. In any discussions, Verizon would have lacked any semblance of leverage over LTE plan pricing. Thus, I would imagine Apple dealt with Verizon first in order to set competitive prices prior to their discussions with AT&T.

In a darker sense, it's worth noting that Apple probably takes little issue with selling its device with a "4G" label. In a consumer environment characterized by the misinformed clamoring for highly marketed 4G connections, AT&T's fairly description of its service actually serves to give Apple a benefit in the average AT&T showroom.

Having said that, realistically, I doubt we will be blessed with a true answer to this evident inaccuracy and marketing ploy. However, what we do unquestionably know is that the "4G" label is now a permanent fixture for iOS and, as I wrote earlier today, I imagine it will become unilaterally present (and accurate) with the forthcoming iPhone.

"AT&T Plan Would Let App Makers Pay for Subscribers' Data Use"

Anton Troianovski for The Wall Street Journal:

AT&T Inc. is preparing a service that would let content providers and developers of mobile applications pay the wireless carrier for the mobile data its customers use, the carrier's network and technology head John Donovan said in an interview Monday.

Mr. Donovan likened the service to toll-free calling for the mobile-broadband world. The move comes as carriers are hunting for new ways to make money on the rising data traffic on their networks, while mindful of limits on what consumers are willing to spend.

If AT&T can persuade some data-heavy culprits (i.e., streaming video services) to get on board, this could be of enormous significance for the end-user. Although that's a rather steep challenge, it certainly seems possible. Unlimited use of Netflix on the go, for instance, would be quite a positive selling point for both Netflix and AT&T.

Having said that, for smaller up-start services, such consumer-benefitting costs will be impractical. Facilitating unlimited mobile use will become expected, but many will not be able to stomach the initial expense, thus harming their chances.

It is important to remember that the cost of data does not dissipate, AT&T would merely redistribute it. Rather than giving your money to AT&T for your service, it would just be charged by data-heavy services - particularly as this would increase their data costs. Furthermore, reliance upon such a system would likely give AT&T license to reduce data package size, thus harming the average smartphone user.

Although AT&T might frame this as innovation, such maneuvering is transparently self-serving. Evidently tired of having the customer blame them for high costs and decreasing data allowances, AT&T can place the blame elsewhere.

Knowing AT&T as we do, the potential for good in this model is somewhat woefully undercut by its obvious potential for bad.

Still, if this is the way the market is set to turn, it's interesting to consider how this might affect the mobile landscape in the coming years.

Nokia Lumia 900 Coming to AT&T?

Nick Wingfield for The New York Times:

On Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nokia plans to introduce a sleek metallic Windows Phone called the Lumia 900 that will be sold by AT&T in the United States, according to two people with knowledge of its plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product has not yet been announced.

As I've said in the past, I consider Windows Phone to be the most compelling mobile operating system alternative to iOS. The platform has famously struggled to gain traction, but Nokia's Lumia line has the potential to address that problem. Although the Lumia 800 didn't quite live up to expectations, if Nokia is able to bring a competent, aesthetically pleasing device to market, it will be difficult to ignore the platform's viability any further.

Simply put, if the Lumia 900 comes anywhere close to the design of the Lumia 800, I will certainly be heading out to see one in person.

As an aside, Windfield spoke with Microsoft engineer, Joe Belfiore, about Windows Phone's roots:

“Apple created a sea change in the industry in terms of the kinds of things they did that were unique and highly appealing to consumers,” Mr. Belfiore said in an interview at Microsoft’s campus here. “We wanted to respond with something that would be competitive, but not the same.”

There has been a lot of discussion about "copycats" in recent months, but Windows Phone devices rarely, if ever, come into the conversation. While that might be due, in part, to the relatively low quantities of Windows Phone devices on the market, it is also an endorsement of Belfiore's comments. Windows Phone is, indeed, competitive, and it is certainly not the same as iOS. If Nokia can deliver a vessel that does service to the OS, such a device could bring credibility to the struggling platform, and that is certainly something I would hope for -- particularly given the fate of webOS.