Why on earth would carriers skip over the Lumia 920?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| October 4, 2012


And here we go. With each new day, we inch closer to November, which means we inch closer to the official launch of Windows Phone 8. People are excited. Or they aren’t. There might be some people out there who are still on the fence regarding Microsoft’s mobile operating system, and if there are then I would think carrier allegiance probably comes into play in some way or another. After all, if you’re on a carrier that doesn’t offer a certain platform, or a specific device, then there’s a good possibility that you won’t even consider picking it up. Which makes sense.

We’ve talked at length why exclusivities are a bad thing, and it would seem that today’s announcements only strengthened that argument. Here we are at the cusp of a major software launch, with some top-tier hardware tied to the event, and we’re looking at our first exclusivity announcement for good measure. We have Nokia to thank for that, as HTC doesn’t seem to care where their phones go.

If you missed the announcement: AT&T announced earlier today that they will be the exclusive carrier for the Lumia 920. Their official announcement also points out that they will be launching the Lumia 820, but there isn’t so much of a focus towards the “exclusive” part. That’s left for Nokia’s website, which points out quite clearly that the Lumia 820 is indeed an AT&T exclusive.

So, we’ve got the top-of-the-line Windows Phone 8 devices tied to one specific carrier. Great. That’s just the wrong move.

I think we can all agree on that. After all, not everyone in the United States is under AT&T blue globe, so limiting a device’s launch –especially one as high profile as the Lumia 920—just doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve heard all sorts of different reasons on the Internet today. Some of them are rational, while others are pretty ridiculous. I’m going to skip the ridiculous ones, and focus on the theories that make the most sense. First, it could very well just come down to the fact that Nokia doesn’t have much of a relationship with other US-based carriers. Especially not recently.

As it stands, Nokia and Verizon aren’t holding hands out in public. Sure, there’s probably some nuzzling going on behind the scenes while the major companies try and figure things out, but right now there’s nothing to get the paparazzi all worked up over. Sprint and Nokia? I’m not even sure we can put those two names together in the same sentence. Maybe not even in the same paragraph. (But we did, so we’re daring today.)

But what about T-Mobile? That’s a good question. Then again, all we have to do is look at the history of the Lumia series to get a pretty comfortable answer. The Lumia 900 was an AT&T exclusive, too, and T-Mobile got the “lesser” of the Lumia devices. The only strange part this time around is that T-Mobile is apparently not going to carry the Lumia 820.

My favorite theory, though, is a doozy: maybe carriers just didn’t want the Lumia 920.

Interesting! Right now, we know of five different handsets that are running Windows Phone 8 right now, and for all intents and purposes ready to go. The Samsung ATIV S, the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S by HTC, and the Lumia 920 and 820 by Nokia. So, with that in mind, and since we already know that Verizon is going to launch the Windows Phone 8X, it could certainly stand to reason that they just didn’t want the Lumia 920. Piece this particular theory with the aforementioned lack of relationships, and you’ve got a pretty sound hypothesis as to why AT&T is the sole carrier gearing up to launch one of Windows Phone 8’s premiere devices.

Of course, I’ll admit wholeheartedly that I think if carriers did say “No way,” to the Lumia 920 in favor of any other device, they made the wrong move. I believe the Lumia 920 is the device to guide Windows Phone 8 into the limelight, just like the Lumia 900 before it. But, hey, maybe the Windows Phone 8X can be the Atlas for Verizon and Windows Phone 8 all in one.

What do you think, Dear Reader? Why is AT&T the carrier that gets to launch the Lumia 920? Do you think the other carriers actively turned down the Lumia 920 because they didn’t want it? Or is it something else? And, as a bonus question: do you think Sprint has even been included in the conversations to launch Windows Phone 8? Let me know!

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