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Latest Windows phone off to mixed start

By Janet I. Tu, The Seattle Times –

SEATTLE — Promises of big marketing pushes have been made, promo events in New York, San Francisco and other cities have been held and pop star Nicki Minaj has sung.

So, splashy promotions aside, how did the actual launch go of the Lumia 900, Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone running on AT&T?

Mixed bag, it appears.

For whatever reason, it was decided the Lumia 900 would launch on Easter Sunday — when many AT&T stores were closed.

A New York Times reporter found that “nearly all 39 AT&T stores within proximity of Times Square in Manhattan were either closed for Easter Sunday or did not answer phone calls. The few that were open did not have the handset in stock.”

In the Seattle area, the big AT&T store in Southcenter was closed Sunday. But the one in Pacific Place was open.

On Monday, the Pacific Place AT&T store boasted three big, impossible-to-miss signs touting the Lumia 900. The phone also had its own alcove display and was also featured in a display of “gaming” phones. A sales rep carrying a Lumia 900 in his pocket readily approached to help.

AT&T is reportedly spending up to $150 million to market the Lumia 900, according to Advertising Age.

Anne Marshall, a spokeswoman for AT&T, declined to comment on the Ad Age figure.

She also didn’t have a specific reason why the phone was launched Easter Sunday but said: “We’re selling on the Web. People are coming in (to the brick and mortar stores). … It’s been busy.

The Microsoft Store in University Village was open Sunday (though the one in Bellevue Square was not).

U Village Microsoft Store manager Melinda George said that by 8 a.m., when she opened the doors, there was a line of people — those who had pre-ordered and were picking the phone up. George said many Lumia 900s were sold Sunday, though she declined to give a figure. (A sales rep was overheard telling customers that 150 handsets have been sold.)

On Monday, the store displayed the Lumia 900 on its own table at the front of the store. Other tables housed several other Windows Phone models, including the HTC Titan II, which also launched Sunday.

The Lumia 900 quickly climbed the sales charts, with the black handset its No. 1 best-seller among cellphones with service plans, and the cyan handset at No. 2 as of Monday evening. (A white Lumia 900 is to launch April 22.)

In addition to AT&T’s push, Nokia and Microsoft separately held their own splashy launch events.

Nokia, on Friday, featured a performance from singer Nicki Minaj in Times Square.

Microsoft, on Monday, held events in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, in which it touted the timesaving benefits of the Lumia 900 and gave prizes intended to save people time, such as free grocery delivery and access to personal concierges.

Microsoft also enlisted celebrities to get the word out: reality star Kourtney Kardashian in New York, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis in San Francisco and chef Stephanie Izard in Chicago.

The Lumia 900 is getting a big marketing push from Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T, as its success is seen vital to Nokia’s attempt to renew its presence in the U.S. market and to Microsoft’s presence in the mobile market.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to give sales figures for the Lumia 900, nor could she say why the launch date was set for Easter Sunday.

But she said, “Microsoft isn’t looking at any one day as a measure of success but is looking at the long term.”

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