Microsoft had a good week last week as its new Surface Pro 4 tablet and Surface Book laptop both earned praise from the tech media. But when it comes to smartphones, Microsoft sadly seems as clueless as ever.
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So two years after the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520, Microsoft finally launched new flagship devices for Windows Phone, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL. But for some reason, Microsoft decided to choose AT&T as the only carrier that will sell the Lumia 950, which figures to be the most enticing model for consumers. Sure, people can still buy the Lumia 950 unlocked from Microsoft and bring it to another carrier but how many people will really fork over $550 up front to buy a Windows Phone?
If Microsoft were serious about actually selling more Windows Phones, you’d think it would want to get its flagship devices on every carrier. But for some reason, Microsoft has opted to do the opposite.
In fact, T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted out recently that it was Microsoft’s decision to not offer the Lumia 950 to T-Mobile, which means the company thinks AT&T exclusivity is a good idea for some reason. VentureBeat got the following response from Microsoft when asked about why it was going with AT&T as the only carrier to sell its flagship device:
We’re refocusing our channel strategy, narrowing it in the short-term and planning for broader operator availability long-term. While there was interest across the board from U.S. operators, currently we’ve made the decision to have AT&T carry the Lumia 950, and then sell both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL unlocked through our own channel in Microsoft stores. In Europe, Deutsche Telekom will carry the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, and we’ll have more to share about other carriers shortly.
And there it is: Microsoft doesn’t want its devices to be widely available through as many channels as possible right now.
This all makes me wonder: Does Microsoft even care if people buy Windows Phones anymore? Not that Windows Phones would ever beat iOS or Android for market share at this point, but if the company is going to bother releasing new products, why not at least try to sell as many of them as you can?
At any rate, in a year’s time I’m sure the Lumia 950 will go down as yet another flop in which a manufacturer decided to tie its premier device to a single carrier, just like the Lumia 1020, the Facebook-centric HTC First and the Amazon Fire Phone. You’d think that Microsoft would have learned its lesson right now, but apparently it’s a glutton for punishment when it comes to getting beat in the smartphone market.