Nokia chose a Sunday to announce it has halved the price of its Lumia 900 smartphone on the AT&T network. The 50 percent markdown comes weeks after Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system, which the Lumia 900 runs, will not be upgradable to WP 8.0.
"High-end design used to hit your wallet where it hurts. Not anymore. ... We're happy to announce that you can now pick up the Nokia Lumia 900 for just $49.99 on a two-year contract from AT&T in the U.S.," Jason Harris wrote in a July 15 post on the Nokia Conversations blog.
AT&T offered no news release on the discount, but its site reflects the change.
On July 9, however, it did enthuse that it now offers the phone "in a fun pink color," in addition to cyan, black and white.
"If you're looking for a fun way to make a statement with your smartphone and stand out this summer, the pink Lumia 900 is definitely the way," Steve Conn wrote on the AT&T Consumer Blog.
Conn was gracious enough not to mention that fun might also be found in a Garnet Red version of the Samsung Galaxy S IIIthe summer's in-demand, Android "it" phone. While Samsung offers the phone through five U.S. carriers, the new color is exclusive to AT&T. It began accepting preorders for the Garnet Red phones July 15 and will begin selling them July 29.
The Lumia 900 was the first high-end device to come out of the Nokia-Microsoft partnership, and overall it was well-received. Analysts said good things about it, and its $100 price point seemed to make it attractive to consumers. A Nokia spokesperson told eWEEK in April that demand had been so strong that the company was receiving reports of "stock-outs" at some locations, "despite regular shipments to restock stores."
Analysts noted that the phone was making decent in-roads, and that more important would be the follow-up devices arriving in time for holiday sales.
On June 20, however, Microsoft introduced its Windows Phone 8 operating system, and with it the news that Windows Phone 7.5 devices won't be capable of upgrading to the more muscular OS but instead will receive a version 7.8, which includes WP 8's desirable start screen and a few other perks.
Whether Microsoft burned Nokia with the announcement matters less than whether the pair has burned a bridge to consumers.
"I think we can expect a very bad summer for Nokia as consumers turn their backs on the company," Ken Hyers, senior analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK following the announcement. "I just don't understand why Nokia has been so inept in how it has handled its product road map."
Neil Mawston, executive director of the global wireless practice at Strategy Analytics, instead suggested that Microsoft did what it needs to, and that complaints about backward-incompatibility will soon enough be forgotten.
"We think the benefits of upgrading old phones to new operating systems are sometimes overstated by some smartphone fans," Mawston said. "Better operating systems often require better hardware, and running a new OS on aging hardware can cause slower or buggier operations, and this is not an optimal user experience."
If a $50, still-current-for-now smartphone sounds good to you, Nokia's Harris added that the Lumia 900 supports AT&T's Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, has a 4.3-inch ClearBlack active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) display, an 8-megapixel camera and access to exclusive apps that include the voice-guided, GPS-enabled Nokia Drive app; Nokia Play, for sharing the phone's photos and videos on a television; and The Dark Knight Rises app.
The Lumia 900, Harris added, "is an amazing phone and a stunning value."