updated 05:00 pm EST, Wed January 19, 2011
Nokia X7's ATT cancellation blamed on carrier
Nokia's decision to cancel the X7's US launch came from a lack of faith from AT&T, insiders said on Wednesday. The Symbian^3 gaming phone would have been introduced for AT&T just ahead of Mobile World Congress in mid-February but was voluntarily dropped as it wasn't going to get "enough marketing and subsidies support" from the American carrier. The WSJ's informants said the X7 would still ship, but only to other countries.
Neither the Finnish phone maker nor AT&T confirmed the cancellation or the device details, as none of these had been made public.
A cancellation compounds Nokia's problems in the US. Although it has repeatedly promised to fix its US situation for the past several years, its market share has continued to slide and now is virtually non-existent in the smartphone category in the US. It has had trouble negotiating carrier deals and for the most part has been limited to selling unsubsidized phones.
AT&T has openly stated that it wants to diversify its lineup in the face of the Verizon iPhone and launched three high-end Android phones at CES, but a decision to skip on the X7 would be a symbolic lack of confidence in Nokia's current lineup adding to that diversification. The company won't see a radical change in its phone strategy until the first MeeGo phone ships later this year. Symbian^3 still trails behind in ease of use and app support compared to both Android and the iPhone, and phones attached to it so far have lagged somewhat in processor performance and screen resolution.
Nokia has taken some steps to solve the problem, including folding Symbian back into the company and hiring an American CEO. Many of the benefits won't come until later this year at the earliest as the two will need time to permeate the company.