Nokia's Lumia 920 Windows Phone is an AT&T exclusive

Nokia's Lumia 920 Windows Phone is an AT&T exclusive

Summary: Nokia's first two Windows Phone 8 devices will be on AT&T this fall. But the higher-end flagship model, the Lumia 920 is an AT&T exclusive.

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On October 4, AT&T announced it will be offering Nokia's first two officially announced Windows Phone 8 devices: The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.

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Given Nokia has been silent to date about U.S. carrier deals, that's the good news. The bad news for those of us not on AT&T: The Lumia 920, the higher-end model, is an AT&T exclusive, as AT&T told The Verge.

I guess this shouldn't be all that surprising, given Nokia launched with AT&T as its premier partner with Windows Phone 7.x in the U.S. and was rumored to be Nokia's preferred launch partner for Windows Phone 8.

Still, given rumors that Verizon might also be offering the Lumia 920 alongside the HTC 8X and 8S Windows Phones, I was hoping that we  Verizon users were going to have a bounty of Windows Phones from which to choose starting in November.

(For those who continue to ask me why I don't just switch from Verizon, which hasn't been a Windows Phone champion -- to put it mildly -- my reason is the Verizon data coverage in New York City cannot be beat. Places where AT&T phones don't work are places where my Verizon phone still works just fine. And this matters a lot to me.)

There's still a chance that Verizon may have a modified version of the Lumia 920... a Lumia 92X or some such. But so far neither Nokia nor Verizon has announced such a device. And if AT&T has a three-month exclusive on the 920 (something we don't know for sure, but some phone watchers are anticipating), that would mean none of the other U.S. carriers will have a high-end Lumia device in time for holiday 2012.

The Lumia 920 will be available in a variety of colors, including the Lumia flagship cyan blue (something Nokia has been coy about to date). The 820 will be available in black only.

Microsoft is slated to launch Windows Phone 8 on October 29. Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to begin shipping in early November across a number of carriers worldwide. Nokia, HTC and Samsung have taken the wraps off their Windows Phone 8 devices already, though they've been unable/unwilling to allow real reviews of any of them, since Microsoft is trying to hold back on disclosing so-far-officially-unannounced Windows Phone 8 features.

There's still no word on pricing for the Nokia 920 or 820 on AT&T.

By the way, if you want to compare specs across the so-far-announced Windows Phone 8 devices, WPCentral has a handy chart.

Topics: Nokia, Microsoft, Smartphones, AT&T, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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68 comments
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  • T-Nobile users too...

    ...are left out in the cold. I guess we can now leave the Lumia line behind and start considering other devices like the 8X and Ativ.

    The two most successful smartphones on the market today are the iPhone and the GSIII neither of which are exclusive to any carrier. Coincidence?

    If AT&T promotes the 920 like they did the 900, Nokia is doomed and we'll lose arguably the best WP handset manufacturer there is. I'd really hate to see that. C'est la vie.
    wyn6
    • Not sure a good move for Nokia

      Nokia definitely needs broader exposure via other carriers ... unless ATT paid them a deal they could not refuse.
      LBiege
      • Exactly!!

        Not sure why Phone makers and Smartphone OS makers accept this kind of deals... Specially for Windows Phone devices that really need a lot of exposures ...
        EricDeBerg
    • iPhone not a good example...

      "The two most successful smartphones on the market today are the iPhone and the GSIII neither of which are exclusive to any carrier. Coincidence?"

      I don't think you can use the iPhone as an example, definitely not in the U.S., at least. It wasn't that long ago that the iPhone was an AT&T exclusive and it was extremely successful.

      If people want the phone enough, they will switch carriers if they have to, and the iPhone can do that to some people.
      ian.aldrighetti
      • Although I agree with you in concept ...

        ... the fact is that the Nokia Lumia IS NOT AN iPHONE.

        It is not a product people are waiting for or even talking about.

        And is not because it is a "bad" product ... it is because it using an update to an OS that was UNIVERSALLY REJECTED. WinPho is not a product people want. It is in fact the contrary. People and businesses are avoiding it like it was a plague.

        Out WP7 is being out for 2 years now ... and in 2 years it managed to sell less than 1/3 of what the competition sells every month.
        wackoae
        • good example

          when the iphone first came out, it was exclusive to at&t. and during that time Android threw the biggest carrier party on the planet. they quickly caught up to the iphone. finally the iphone came to verizon. it was not always this way. i think it worked for apple, but google showed that flooding the market with a variety of devices was the better way to go. maybe nokia is doing this on purpose because they want to grow the user base slowly. it could also be the inner parts are different between att and verizon. i just want nokia to succeed and i think the exclusive deal with att is not the way to go.
          RobbieGoD316
    • iPhone not a good example...

      "The two most successful smartphones on the market today are the iPhone and the GSIII neither of which are exclusive to any carrier. Coincidence?"

      I don't think you can use the iPhone as an example, definitely not in the U.S., at least. It wasn't that long ago that the iPhone was an AT&T exclusive and it was extremely successful.

      If people want the phone enough, they will switch carriers if they have to, and the iPhone can do that to some people.
      ian.aldrighetti
    • iPhone

      T-mobile has the iPhone?
      clcrockett
    • Well lets look at the bright side

      If AT&T promotes the Lumia 920 and it isn't that good and the 920 doesn't sell in mass numbers, we have a good chance at seeing a Surface Phone :).
      Free From Apple
    • Look on the bright side

      If the Nokia Lumia 920 doesn't sell is mass numbers because it's only confined to AT&T, that leaves good room for Microsoft to create a Surface phone and for good reasons too.
      Free From Apple
  • A Mistake For Nokia

    Nokia, a company on the comeback trail, has made a mistake with this exclusivity deal with AT&T. As you note, Verizon's coverage is much better, and it's not just New York City where this is obvious. For that reason alone, there are more than a few folks who shy away from the Death Star and would much rather use Verizon.

    Then there are other folks who prefer T-Mobile, Sprint, etc., the latter for their unlimited data plan. All coupled together, these are customers that won't switch to AT&T to get this new handset. They will instead choose Samsung, HTC and other Windows phone vendors if it is a Win8 phone that they would like to have.
    Charles Boyer
    • I am one of them....

      I won't lose my Verizon coverage for a phone so it looks like I will be getting the HTC 8x which will no doubt be on Verizon. Was hoping for a Lumia, but there goes that one. On to the next and I'm not too disappointed with the HTC, I have had alot of HTC phones and they have all been pretty solid devices with minimal issues.
      OhTheHumanity
    • Wait a minute...

      I'm not understanding the vibe that I'm getting from these comments. People don't want to switch from their current provider because the Lumia isn't "an iPhone", uses the AT&T network, and has a a young OS in W8. But alternatively people would rather buy the 8x, a phone that doesn't have nearly as much exclusive tech as the 920, has the same "young" OS as the the 920, and is probably going to be the same price as the 920.

      To me, spending more or just as much to get a lesser phone is exactly like buying an iPhone 5, it still doesn't make sense. As for me, I think its time to #SwitchtoLumia
      Fat Albert 1
  • Ridiculous

    Can anyone tell me how the handset manufacturer benefits from making their phones exclusive to 1 carrier? Does AT&T pay more for that exclusivity? Not to be mean to Nokia or MS (I'm wanting a 920) but it isn't exactly like the Lumia 920 is going to pull millions of people off other networks and onto AT&T. So why would Nokia agree to this? What does Nokia get for it?
    toddbottom3
    • Just to be clear

      I don't see how this exclusivity deal helps Nokia OR AT&T. The 920 being exclusive can't help AT&T that much since it won't pull millions of people onto the AT&T network. It can't help Nokia since they need to make it as easy as possible to buy this thing.

      Just don't see what either side gets out of it.
      toddbottom3
      • yep

        Fully agree with this one. Bad move for an already struggling Nokia. Oh well, guess that means I'll be looking at what HTC offers on VZW. Like MJF, I'm not moving from VZW.
        brentgee
      • Benefits of exclusives

        Nokia: AT&T is probably providing substantially more advertising support and may be subdizing the phone. Nokia isn't in a position to turn down this kind of help.

        AT&T: The iphone is now a profit killer for AT&T. AT&T probably doesn't have any way to increase in market share in Android, vis a vis the other carriers. As RIM continues to stumble, AT&T wants to make Windows Phone the third platform, which will eventually reduce its dependence on Apple. Having an exclusive on a high end device will associate its brand with Windows Phone and allow it to grow the Nokia/WP brand on AT&T's own terms.

        As a fan of Windows Phone who isn't on AT&T, it is disappointing. However, I'm not the target market. If Windows Phone and Nokia are going to survive, they need to grow the base. More advertising dollars and support from a major carrier will help that, much more than selling all the phones through all the carriers, none of which will have the motivation to develop the brand through a focused advertising campaign. In the long run, it's good for everybody.
        Kanzeon
        • Yeah ATT did wonders for the 900. NOT!

          The corporate message of reducing apple dependence and making WP the third platform hasnt changed anything on the ground floor where the phones are actually sold. Hopefully for Nokias sake this exclusivity is just for the short term. They need to get 920 or better class hardware onto Verizon to compete and MS needs them to to get any hope of real traction on WP8 market share. The ativ and 8X alone wont cut it. Nor will not having the ativ and 8X at ATT. Right now those are the big 3 worldwide oems for WP and MS needs all three of them everywhere.
          Johnny Vegas
          • Not sure what you mean.

            If you mean that AT&T floor salespeople aren't pushing Nokia, I've found that hard to believe. But it seems to me you have two scenarios:

            All carriers get all phones. Salepeople push the phones that will generate the most sales. Right now, that's Android and iPhone, because it is easier to sell a known quantity. The same applies to advertising dollars - a carrier campaign for an Android will be a more certain money maker than an campaign for Nokia. The result: Nokia gets lost in the noise of the market.

            One carrier shares risk and invests in the product, as AT&T is doing. Without investment, without risk, Nokia will not gain traction. The downside is that, at least in the short run, the "best" phone is not available on all carriers. I put best in quotes, because i really don't see the HTC phones are substandard by any means.

            When you have a 3% market share, there aren't any perfect options, and maybe not even good ones. If I were Nokia, I'd jump at AT&T's help. It is probably worth tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars - money that Nokia just doesn't have.
            Kanzeon
          • @ kanzeon

            "One carrier shares risk and invests in the product, as AT&T is doing. Without investment, without risk, Nokia will not gain traction."

            If ATT has Android devices from Samsung and HTC to complement Apple's devices, why will they need Nokia's devices to become the top sellers on their network?

            There is an opportunity cost problem here for ATT. The market need to push the 2nd mobile ecosystem comes from the fact that they need to diversify away from the 1st mobile ecosystem's margin decrease. But the need to move away from the 2nd mobile ecosystem to create a new and big 3rd mobile ecosystem does not exist at the moment.

            Microsoft's problem or actually Microsoft's OEM ecosytem's problem is its delay to market unlike with PCs when they led the market.
            calahan