Doesn’t Anyone Want Americans to Buy Nokia Phones?

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Nokia's Lumia 800

Windows Phone 7.5 Mango is an impressive operating system. Nokia makes nifty hardware. So despite Windows Phone’s tiny market share to date and Nokia’s recent woes, I want to be optimistic about the Finnish phone maker’s return to the U.S. market with slick new Windows Phone-powered handsets.

But boy, there are some odd things going on with Nokia’s first Windows Phones that are being marketed here in the States.

(MORE: The Future of Phones: Forever Unknowable)

The Verge’s Tom Warren says that Microsoft plans to sell an unlocked version of the 800 at its Microsoft Stores starting on Valentine’s Day–but only as part of a bundle that also includes a wireless speaker, a stereo headset, and a Bluetooth headset. The price for all this: $899. Unlocked phones carry stiff pricetags already; selling one only in a package with other fancy stuff hardly seems like a strategy for making it more appealing, even if it’s a good deal, mathematically speaking.

Meanwhile, Dave Zatz of Zatz Not Funny reports that his local Microsoft Store is taking pre-orders for Nokia’s Lumia 900, which will be available on AT&T next month–even though the price and release date remain unknown. Rumor has it that the 900 might sell for the lowball price of $100 on contract, but one store staffer told Dave that the phone would go for $200 and another said $150-$199. Accepting pre-orders right now doesn’t sound like it’ll do much except confuse people.

All is not lost: T-Mobile has a basic Windows Phone Nokia, the Lumia 710, for just $39 (on contract, after rebate). And once AT&T starts selling the Lumia 900–which scuttlebutt says it may do on March 18th–it could quickly become a mainstream contender. I hope so: It’s going to be impossible to judge whether Windows-based Nokias can compete against the iPhone and Android until they get, you know, competitive.

(MORE: How Nokia’s Lumia 900 Windows Phone Won CES Before It Even Started)