AT&T subscribers can purchase the LTE-savvy Nokia Lumia 900 for $99 with a new two-year contract, though the device costs Nokia $217 a pop to make, IHS iSuppli reported April 11, following a physical teardown of the smartphone. Sans manufacturing, the bill of materials totaled $209.
Without a contract, the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) smartphone sells for $450a good $100 lower than comparable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, said the report, pointing to a critical Nokia tactic: passing the savings to the consumer to help the company grow market share.
A savvy Nokia, mimicking Apples holistic approach, closely cooperated with its OS provider, Microsoft, and chip maker partner Qualcomm, iSuppli found.
One of Apples advantages over Android has been the companys complete control of both the hardware and operating system software, helping it to produce efficient and economical iPhone designs, Andrew Rassweiler, a senior principal analyst with IHS, said in a statement.
For the Lumia 900, Nokia and Microsoft worked in close partnership with Qualcomm to develop and optimize the software stack in order to take full advantage of the hardware. But while Apple capitalizes on its low hardware costs to attain industry-leading margins, Rassweiler added, Nokia is using this approach to offer an inexpensive phone intended to [attract users] on the basis of price.
The priciest item on the Lumia 900s teardown list is its display and touch-screen, at a cost of $58though the Samsung S II Skyrockets display and screen cost $64. At $27, the Lumia 900s NAND flash and dynamic RAM (DRAM) were also less expensive than the Skyrockets, at $32.
The Lumia 900s design allows it to operate with only 512MB of DRAM, half the 1GB used in the Samsung Skyrocket and most other comparable smartphones, said iSuppli. Because of this, the Lumia 900s total memory cost is $5 less than the Skyrockets.
Ditto goes for the processor.
While most new smartphones go for dual-core processors, or even boast quad cores, the Lumia 900, because of its efficient hardware/software design is able to use a single-core Qualcomm processor, says iSuppli, to similar results but at a cost thats $5 below the Skyrockets.
The Lumia 900 runs a processor thats the minimal requirement for Windows Phone 7.5, said IHS iSuppli analyst Wayne Lam. This expands the addressable market for Windows Phone 7.5 devices, allowing Nokia and Microsoft to compete in the low-cost smartphone market now dominated by Android.
Qualcomms central role in the Lumia 900s design made it a big winner on the bill-of-materials [BOM] front, as it supplied not just the applications processor but the baseband processor, power management IC and radio-frequency transceiver.
Samsung was another big player, with its display and touch-screen accounting for 28 percent of the BOM total.
The single line-item that was higher for the Lumia 900 than the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is what iSuppli refers to as the wireless section and which adds $38 to the Lumias price tag but $37 to the Skyrockets.
With the Lumia 900s $99 price point, it makes sense that Nokia and Microsoft are shooting for first-time smartphone ownersusers who may otherwise be checking out those low-end Android handsets. Given the quality of their make-it-or-break-it effort, however, along with the fact that in an ailing economy itll be tough to get feature phone owners to sign up for data plans, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps has pointed out, the pair may be better served to instead launch their most aggressive recruiting efforts toward Symbian holdouts, she said, and Research In Motion BlackBerry users.
Full disclosure, Rotman Epps added in her April 5 blog post: I love my Windows Phone.