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.
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.