Walmart is currently offering the Nokia Lumia 710, Nokia’s entry-level Windows Phone, for free with 2-year contract on T-Mobile. It originally was $50 with 2-year contract. Some would say that the Lumia 710 is already failing, but I think that would be a misunderstanding of a good strategy on the part of Nokia (and possibly Microsoft).
Nokia used to be the ubiquitous feature phone in the US years ago because they were often the free phone offered by various carriers. But Nokia’s smartphone offerings never got a big foothold in the US because they were always offered unlocked with no subsidized pricing. While that’s a better deal overall for consumers, the up-front cost of getting something like an unlocked Nokia N95 (a GREAT phone during its heyday) was quite a hit to thefor many buyers who were used to Nokia being the free phone offering.
Fast forward to today. Nokia is partnered with Microsoft, and recently announced their Lumia line of Windows Phone devices. The Lumia 900 got a ton of positive attention at CES and won several different awards thanks to its great hardware, 4G LTE support, and slick, optimized performance running Windows Phone. There is a lot of interest in the geek community surrounding the US release of the Lumia 900.
But there are a lot of people out there who are still rocking the feature phone, and still aren’t really sure that they need a smartphone. Enter the Lumia 710. It’s from Nokia, so the hardware design is nice. Plus, it has the novelty of Windows Phone which has a brightly-colored interface with Live Tiles that looks so fresh and different from iOS and Android. It’s appealing to those who may not care for either iOS or Android, as well as to the frugal buyer who isn’t quite ready to drop a few hundred dollars on a smartphone that they may or may not like.
With the Lumia 710 being a free phone with the latest and greatest Windows Phone OS, I think Nokia and Microsoft both could get a boost from this. Nokia could once again become the ubiquitous phone in the US, and help educate the non-geek public about Windows Phone. Microsoft is really pushing Windows Phone this year, so I feel like the price drop for the Lumia 710 is just one of the facets of Microsoft’s strategy to make the general public more aware of the Windows Phone OS.