Can $100 Windows phone trump iPhone?
Nokia's impressive Lumia 900 will sell for half the price of Apple's offering, and Microsoft hopes the discount will win buyers over.
Nokia's (NOK) next flagship device, the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows-powered Lumia 900, will finally hit AT&T (T) stores on April 8 -- for an affordable $99.99 with a two-year contract. Although the phone is half the price of competitors like Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4S, it's no slouch: It has a 4.3-inch display (bigger than an iPhone's) and an 8-megapixel camera, and it will run on AT&T's faster 4G network.
The key question now is whether the attractive price will woo customers to Microsoft-powered mobile devices, which have struggled to gain market share against heavyweights like Apple's iOS and Google's (GOOG) Android.
Will the lower price give the Lumia 900 a fighting chance?
It's possible, but it won't be easy. The Lumia 900 will face "the same challenges that many past Windows phones have struggled to overcome," says Roger Cheng at CNET. For one thing, consumers aren't leaping to choose the young Windows OS over more established systems like iOS or Android. But on the plus side: Previous Windows phones sacrificed higher-end specs for affordability. "The Lumia 900, by contrast, will come packed with some of Nokia's best hardware."
Apps are an Achilles heel. The 70,000 apps available to Windows phone users may be "too little, too late," says Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet. Apple's robust App Store has more than 500,000. If Microsoft wants to snag a larger share of the mobile market, it will have to aggressively promote its own apps to compete with popular games and services that aren't available on Windows. Otherwise, Windows is doomed.
But the price is so crazy, it just might work. "It is highly unusual for a marquee smartphone to be offered at such a disruptive price," says Tony Bradley at PC World. A $100 price point is typically reserved for older versions of phones that now seem outdated. Hopefully, users looking for a "unique" and "innovative" offering will "give [Windows] some badly needed momentum." The Lumia 900 is certainly a bargain. Perhaps consumers will agree.
(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
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Consumers are very status conscious in Asia, Africa and other emerging-market areas. This is especially true in China.
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