As I heard of AT&T’s Nokia Lumia announcements this morning, all I could remember was a historic phrase that I heard more than five years ago. It said: “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” Yes, these were iconic words that Steve Jobs used to begin his iPhone announcement at MacWorld 2007. The guy was right, the iPhone was revolutionary, but what I don’t think Jobs understood back then, where the implications of keeping the iPhone as an exclusive AT&T product for the next three years. Not because the first three iPhones didn’t sell well, they actually exceeded expectations in sales, but because Apple underestimated competition.
See, all it took was a competing carrier, a legendary OEM, a good marketing campaign, and a robust operating system to make the iPhone bleed. Yes, all it took was Verizon, Motorola, and the now famous Droid. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if Apple would’ve decided to sell all generations of the iPhone on each carrier since day one? Android as we know it, would be a whole different animal. Yes Android was destined to succeed, but it would’ve taken Google much longer to reach the adoption it currently has just as we’re seeing Android tablets struggle to compete with the iPad.
The Nokia Lumia 920 was a device that I consider revolutionary. It challenges an imperfect system to be better, just like the original iPhone did in 2007. After it launches, no longer will OEMs succeed if they launch a phone with just any camera. No longer will customers accept a touch screen that doesn’t work for them with winter gloves. Maps and even Street View will be obsolete concepts once City Lens becomes the main stream. And I could name so many other features that just make the Lumia 920 the greatest piece of tech of this year, and most probably the next.
Sadly things are thrown in the trash when innovation get’s locked. Nokia just made the horrendous mistake of allowing their historic savior to be an AT&T exclusive, and trust me when I tell you, this will hurt. Here’s why:
Rarely do exclusive products succeed
Try to think of any smartphone in the last decade that has succeeded in an exclusive deal, that’s not the iPhone. All the Palm Pres flopped in Sprint, Motorola ended up in Google’s clutches because they gave Verizon too many exclusives, the HTC One X is still a product lot’s of people don’t recognize being stuck in AT&T, and yes, even the Nokia Lumia 900 and the Lumia 710 have struggled on AT&T and T-Mobile respectively.
Exclusive deals are a mistake. Surely they work better for OEMs because they guarantee that a carrier will acquire their product, but it has never allowed any product to truly succeed. The problem with exclusive deals is not that people won’t want to change from one carrier to the next. I’m sure products like the iPhone have proven that people will do some crazy things to dig into the product that they want. Nokia’s problem is competition.
My biggest concern is that history may repeat itself. Verizon has already shown the world just how disruptive they can be. Surely we’ve seen rumors of the of the Lumia 920 reaching Verizon in the future, but we’ve also seen a ton of cases where a carrier decides to ditch a product for reasons they never share.
At times when you can get a Galaxy S III or an iPhone 5 on just about every carrier you can think of, I seriously doubt that people will want to spill tons of cash canceling a contract just to buy a Lumia 920. In that same fashion, I also doubt that customers will spend Black Friday waiting for Nokia to change their minds next Spring.
AT&T doesn’t care about Windows Phone
This doesn’t require a degree in Rocket Science. AT&T has always been the exclusive Windows Phone launch partner, and how well has that gone for Microsoft? I’m still stunned at the fact that I’ve never found a working Windows Phone available at any AT&T store for me to give it a try-before-I-buy. Most of the AT&T employees I’ve seen are all using iPhones personally and that’s the main reason all they have to say starts with an “i”. Every time that I’ve walked into a store, the first thing the store reps tell me is “Hi, welcome, we’ve got the new iPhone in stock!”
Microsoft needs to stop seeing their Mobile OS as an inferior product. If they believed in Windows Phone, they wouldn’t figure out ways to ensure that carriers will push it through exclusive deals. Microsoft should figure out ways to make the operating system the go-to solution on each and every carrier, and sadly that’s not today’s reality.
The bottom line
Have you ever seen Apple make the stupid mistake of launching their next-generation iPhone in just one carrier after their AT&T contract ended?
I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed in a long time. I had some great plans for the Lumia 920, and I know many of you did as well. For the first time in a decade, this device made me lust a Microsoft operating system as much as I felt when I compared the Compaq iPAQ h3630 with the Palm V so many years ago. This was Nokia’s time to shine, and Microsoft’s chance to live again. Sadly even if Nokia decides to start selling the phone eventually on other carriers, all those holiday customers will be gone.
How do you feel about the Nokia Lumia 920 going exclusive? Would you be willing to pay the price you’d have to pay to switch just to get one? Share your thoughts in the comments down bellow.