updated 01:55 pm EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
ATT staff may have option of Lumia 900 for free
Nokia may try to overcome stigmas about buying Windows Phone by seeding AT&T's retail staff with free phones. Apparent leaks to WPCentral have Nokia paying as much as $25 million to let staff take free Lumia 900 phones in a Company Use program. Workers wouldn't be forced to use the Lumia, but they would have to trade in whatever they have.
Expectations were supposedly that over 80 percent of staff in a given store would use the phone as part of the program.
AT&T was already believed to be getting $100 million-plus in promotion from Nokia and could treat the Lumia 900 as its centerpiece phone for the near future. Despite having a 4.3-inch screen and LTE, it could cost just $100 on a contract for its rumored April 9 launch, making it one of the most affordable 4G phones in the US.
The combination of strategies, if made real, would serve mutual interests. Nokia and Microsoft alike are hoping to overcome a perceived bias where store staff recommend only Android or iPhone hardware, creating an ironic reversal where Microsoft now faces the same retail discrimination that Apple once did in the 1990s. AT&T, meanwhile, is still trying to reduce its dependency on the iPhone and hasn't had much success putting Android in that role.