Nokia's Lumia 900 Launching March 18: Report

Nokia's Lumia 900, a high-end device running Windows Phone "Mango," will launch March 18 on AT&T for $99 with a two-year contract, according to a new report.

Nokia's high-end Lumia 900 will launch March 18 on AT&T, according to a "trusted" source speaking to the Boy Genius Report. Moreover, it will cost $99 with a two-year contract.

That's not the first time a publication has floated that release date for Nokia's next high-end Windows Phone. Over at his Supersite for Windows, blogger Paul Thurrott previously suggested that the Lumia 900 would appear exclusively on AT&T starting March 18, followed some 45 days later by other carriers. "This information comes from a source at a rival wireless carrier and not from the Microsoft marketing documentation I've referenced repeatedly," he cautioned. "I have not confirmed this with other sources."

But if BGR's source differs from the one used by Thurrott, the combination adds a bit more validity to the theory of a March 18 release date.

A $99 price tag could also help spur adoption of Nokia's smartphones within the United States. The Finnish phone maker already has a midrange device on the market, the Lumia 710, retailing for $49 with a two-year contract. But the Lumia 900 boasts higher-quality specs, including a 4.3-inch display and 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, wrapped inside a slim and sleek frame.

Early in 2011, Nokia made the strategic decision to abandon its homegrown operating systems, including Symbian, in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform-the better, insisted CEO Stephen Elop, to combat Apple's iPhone and the growing family of Google Android devices. According to 22 analysts recently surveyed by Bloomberg, that strategy may have resulted in some 1.3 million Windows Phone smartphones shipped worldwide by the end of 2011. (There is one caveat to that data: "shipped" doesn't necessarily mean sold to consumers.)

The big question is whether Nokia-along with Microsoft's other smartphone partners-can spur enough adoption among businesses and consumers to change the story for Windows Phone, which has suffered from anemic sales in the year-plus since its release. Pricing is certainly a key element in that strategy: During this January's Consumer Electronics Show, Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Phone, told eWEEK that Windows Phone devices by various manufacturers would aim for customers across the price spectrum.

Selling higher end smartphones at a significantly reduced price is evidently part of that strategy.

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