Back at the start of September Nokia announced their new Lumia 920 smartphone. It’s been called the only true innovative smartphone on the market today, and that’s because of the unique and awesome wireless charging, the incredible camera with real optical image stabilization, a larger screen and even 4G. I haven’t even mentioned the amazing extra apps and tweaks like City Lens, Nokia Music, and more, that they have already added to the platform. And of course we can’t forget the awesome colors available.
At the end of October, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 to the world and phones started to go on sale with select carriers. At least, that’s what they claimed, but it sure was hard to locate a device to buy. Fast forward another month, and there’s still lots of people that want a device, but they still can’t get the model and configuration they’re looking for. It’s been more than 3 months since they were announced and getting your hands on one is still proving to be difficult. Here’s how the break down:
- Many (but not all) color choices
- Affordable price
- Locked Internet Sharing for non-AT&T SIM Cards
- Limited frequency bands support
- One color choice – Black
- Reasonable price (More than AT&T, but still affordable)
- Locked Internet Sharing for non-Rogers SIM Cards
- Wide frequency bands supported (including T-Mobile and Wind)
Unlocked / Unbranded
- Color selection is hard to find
- Expensive pricing that can vary based on color choice
- Internet Sharing is not locked to a specific carrier
- Unknown configuration of frequency bands
Let’s say you’re not with either of these carriers, but you want a Lumia 920. You could purchase an AT&T or Rogers version outright, unlock it, and then use it on your carriers network. Unless of course you wanted to use that Internet Sharing feature because that won’t work without the original carriers SIM card being in the phone. So, you decide to get the unlocked version. Guess what? There’s a really good chance that you will end up with one that doesn’t have the correct 4G frequency bands which means you will end up with poor/non-existent 4G and LTE coverage.
Customers are getting frustrated. They buy the phone, but features don’t work and they don’t understand that it’s not working because Nokia’s carrier partners decided to block that feature. They’re feeling ripped off because they can’t get the color they wanted, only to have the carrier release it months later once the initial public interest has started to slip.
Nokia needs customers, and many people want to buy the latest Nokia Lumia smartphones. So why not borrow from the Google Nexus playbook and sell the phone directly to consumers from the Nokia website. Make it clear what networks the phone would work on. Something like “All North American GSM carriers (including Bell, Telus, Rogers, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc…)”. Then prompt them for the color of device they want. Take their credit card details and pocket some well deserved cash into the bank before sending out the device. Let them get the phone from a reliable trusted source – directly from Nokia.
It’s the same business model that Dell has been using for all these years, and now Google is doing it with the Nexus. It’s a great way to drive the devices into the hands of the tech savvy / early adopters, which will in turn result in others seeing and hearing about the device. Every single third party web site I’ve been watching for unlocked Lumia’s, has a different listing for 4G/LTE frequency bands, colors, and the price varies widely. There’s nothing like paying a premium for a device only to find out it’s not fully compatible with your network.
And before you say it; Yes, I know that Nokia has a relationship with carriers that it wants, and needs to protect. There is value in having that phone in customers faces when they walk into their local carriers store. I don’t think they should stop working with carriers, just offer a direct to customer model as well. Right now, there’s no Lumia 920 for T-Mobile, Bell, or Telus. Instead of leaving all those potential customers out in the cold, waiting for their carrier to add it to their list of devices or trying their luck at unlocking another device, give them a easy way to get what they want and at the same time provide them with a positive experience from a name that they trust. No carrier extras, just pure Nokia goodness!