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Looking at Nokia’s carrier exclusives differently and what is Verizon’s Lumia 822?

With yesterday’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 coming to AT&T, the word that caught our eye and yours was “exclusive”. Even Rogers is now in on the "exclusive" action. The term was applied to both Lumia devices, although as pointed out in our forums, the 820’s exclusiveness to AT&T was dropped from Nokia’s site later in the day. 

The tech’o’sphere has responded quite negatively to the news if only because the Lumia 920 has built up such demand that many people are cheering for its success. That success though depends on how many people can actually buy it, which in turn translates into carrier availability. If the Lumia 920 is only available on 1 of 4 major US carriers, well that’s certainly less people than had it been on two or three carriers. A pretty obvious impact.

The notion that the masses will drop their contracts with an existing provider and run to AT&T (or Rogers) for the 920 is misguided. The 920’s hype is just not there yet and with “family plans” growing in popularity, switching is just not as feasible as it used to be. Sure, some will switch but churn for specific devices (as opposed to being fed up with service) is just not that high anymore.

Why exclusive?

The first area we want to tackle is how this situation even arises. Lots of folks are blaming Nokia for the decision but the fact of the matter is we don’t know the details. Here are some scenarios though that come into play:

  • AT&T could have refused to carry the Lumia 920 unless they had it locked in
  • Non-AT&T carriers and Nokia might not have reached an amicable deal, with either side potentially turning down the other
  • “Exclusives” could be timed. AT&T may have it all to themselves but only for a short period
  • AT&T/Rogers may have an exclusive but only on that model number
  • Exclusive deals often pay more to the OEM upfront
  • Carrier deals often involve more than just the phone e.g. support and advertising

Chew on those reasons for a bit as they all get mixed into the bag. Sure, Nokia needs to put this phone on as many carriers as they can—they know that—but they do have to play ball with the carriers and at least here in the US, those guys play for keeps.

AT&T and Nokia have a fairly strong relationship. The carrier embraced the Lumia 900 in the past with only a mediocre response (the 900 was hardly the run away success people were hoping for, though it did greatly raise awareness). It makes sense that the carrier would, in essence, demand Nokia give them—and only them—the Lumia 920.

That’s not good for consumers but those who live in the US should know by now that the mobile phone business in the US is hardly buyer-friendly. (Anyone else notice all the carriers have rolled back the 30-day no-risk trial back to 14 days?). In essence, Nokia is trapped by the very system it needs to participate in—just like you and I.

What does exclusive mean?

Here’s where we head into some speculation territory but there is some evidence here to support the ideas being put forth. To put it bluntly, AT&T (and Rogers) may have an exclusive on the Lumia 920 specifically but is that tied to the phone or the model number?

Verizon is expected to get the Lumia 820 or rather the Lumia 822--that much is known and that model number change should tell you something about what is going on here.

Verizon 822

Verizon's upcoming-phone database

Nokia in the past have said they will work with carriers to have specialized, unique devices. Another company actually knows this system very well: RIM. If you ever found it difficult to keep up with all the BlackBerry 9xxx model numbers, you’re not alone. While that system is confusing to the consumer, to the carriers it means they have something special to cling to for advertising.

We think Nokia is taking the same tactic here and while the tech press is getting itself all wrapped up in the AT&T announcement, they’re forgetting that T-Mobile and Verizon have yet to announce anything yet for Windows Phone and Nokia.

We’re not quite prepared to say that there is a Nokia Lumia 922 for Verizon—frankly we have seen no evidence that it exists, but we do know that there is an 822 and Nokia to us appeared confident that this AT&T-exclusive controversy will blow over.

Lumia 822 Arrow

Anyone remember me?

So what is the Lumia 822?

Anyone remember this image, thought to be the Arrow? Notice we have yet to actually see that phone announced? It’s not the Lumia 920 (too rounded) and it’s not the Lumia 820.

People who are familiar with Verizon know they don’t like to be “just another carrier”. They too, like AT&T, want to offer something unique and we think the 822 is just that—a mix device between the 820 and 920. Could it be a 4.3” more rounded phone with the same PureView camera technology? It could very well be though details are non-existent at this time.

Through the grapevine we’ve heard that a certain US carrier may an announcement as early as Monday. We’re thinking T-Mobile at this point and it will be real interesting to see what they get, though we’re leaning on just the “820” model for them. So far T-Mo aims for “middle of the road” as opposed to “high end” for their customers.

And the take away is...

In conclusion, this whole exclusive mess may be much about nothing. Nokia’s Chris Weber said as much back in January and reiterated in June—they’re seeking to offer carriers “unique propositions” to help them bite at the Nokia line. From Bloomberg in June:

“The key to getting more Lumia phones into consumers’ hands is giving each carrier a “unique proposition,” so they can show how the devices stand out from the iPhone or Android models, Weber said.”

The fact of the matter is while consumers want the Lumia 920 on every carrier the carriers do not, so Nokia will have to offer each something “unique”. Nokia discussed this as recently as July with the Financial Times.

How that translates to getting consumers what they want remains to be seen. Whether carriers get a modified Lumia 920 or something else will be crucial—after all, it’s about the PureView camera and other 920 specialties that people really want.

For now though we would rather wait for Verizon, T-Mobile and other carriers to show their cards before lighting our torches and grabbing our pitchforks. Hopefully some of the evidence we’ve shown here will make you do the same.

Additional photo credit: Anka Galuza

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • finally some to read!
  • I'm going to wait and see where this goes before rushing to conclusions. Wait to see what Verizon puts out.
  • Wait!?  Daniel, you're counselling patience?  We're not supposed to run of the side of a cliff in our rush to judgement based upon limited information?
  • Oh yeah, my prediction on the 822.  1280x720 screen.
  • First, this article could have been written when the Lumia 900 was announced as an exclusive, and we saw how that turned out for Verizon users.   (Someone even spotted an elusive 910 that some thought was going to Verizon.) 
    People will react based on past experience, and that has taught everyone that only AT&T gets flagship Nokia phones, and that is why everyone is reacting so negatively.  It's (in the article) speculation versus the reality of past experience. 
    Second, my personal interest in WP8 phones goes in this order; Nokia 920, HTC WP 8X, Samsung Ativ S, then the Nokia 820.   So to me, if Verizon offers the HTC WP 8X and Samsung Ativ S,  then it doesn't matter if the Nokia 820 is there or not.  Fortunately, I use AT&T but that isn't the point.
    Phones, more than any other device, are sold in the wild when people compare phones at work or out.  For Windows Phone to be successful, I believe when someone pulls out their new iPhone or Android phone, you need someone to pull out the very best Windows Phone made.  I believe that's the Lumia 920.   I believe that phone will shut everyone up and make undecideds consider a Windows Phone.   I'm not convinced that happens if someone pulls out an 820 (or 822) to compare against the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III.
  • Do you mean in the back near the supply closet because it's not an iPhone or Android device???
  • Please, explain that others ..
  • It is really hard not to jump to conclusions when past experience has plainly shown that if you don't jump to AT&T you don't get anything close to a hero-level phone. IOW, we all expect to get screwed, because of the near monopolistic exclusivity deals with AT&T.
    Let's see how many American/Canadian consumers are willing to switch carriers to get the 920 vs how many will end up getting the 8X and what color.
  • I'm in the minority, switching carriers to AT&T for the Lumia 920. I'm tired of Sprint's slow and unreliable service in my area, not to mention their complete lack of support for the Windows Phone platform.
  • I would have considered switching to Rogers but I just found out that they are only carrying the black so I won't be switching for that. As it is, there are not any carriers in Canada intending to carry the 920 in colour which is rather pathetic. I thought for sure that it would be the L920 or nothing for me but the 8x has to be considered now.
  • Its not really that big of an issue for me because after the 8X was announced that's pretty much been the phone I've been set on getting,,,but I am interested in the percentage of how many people are willing to switch after reading the news that the 920 "MAY" be exclusive ATT and Rogers in Canada.
    The last few polls that almost 90% of the people that voted were for the 920 I want to how much that's changed,,,,if any.
  • I personally think the 8X looks the best but I would rather have the 920.  The 16GB on the 8X is too small.  I currently have the HTC trophy, which is an awesome phone, but I always have this thing full.
    Even though I want the 920 and voted for it there is no way I will switch to AT&T.  I have unlimited data on Verizon and plan on keeping it.
  • That's why I think we need a NEW poll,so people can RE-vote for the phone their actually more likely to get since since the 8X will be on 3 major carriers in the US and the 920 as far as we know so far will only be on ATT.
  • You won't be keeping unlimited data with a 4G phone. Check with Verizon on that.
  • As looking as he buys it full price then he's good.
  • If you want color, put a cover on it. Too many people are making too much of a big deal over color. It would be like turning down a Ferrari 599 and getting a Porsche 911 because it only came in black, even though you love the Ferrari. The L920 is a quality phone, and I'm getting one regardless of color.
  • Currently trying to switch away from ATT to Verizon.  I was hoping to do it with the 920, but dosn't look like that's going to work out.
    A great phone with crap service is, well, still pretty crappy.  
  • Daniel, the torches are out and they are even getting the kerosene. Nokia needs to fix this stuff up quick or the flames might engulf the whole Lumia WP8 launch all together.
  • But Nokia are not responsible for carrier announcements. Who's more to blame here: Nokia or the impatient tech geeks who cling to breaking phone news and can't wait for the big picture?
  • but impatient phone geeks don't care about the big picture
  • Patience is a virtue that is lost in modern day teachings and the fast speeds of the internet. I am patient and this issue isn't even my concern as I live outside of the US. But CNet, Gizmodo and PocketNow aren't and are officially pronouncing it DBA (Dead Before Arrival).
    One just feels that Nokia needs a better media department. The OIS scandal and all the secrecy on price (even though I feel that Nokia's waiting for the GNote II pricing before they commit) aren't helping Nokia's cause one bit.
  • You're right patience is a virtue. And the hyperactive society we have been diving head first into over the past few decades is simply horrible. "OIS scandal" I for one disagree that it's a scandal. The "scandal" is only being perpetuated by the douches over at The Verge, and anyone who wants to latch on to that. Hell, people are going out in droves to by the iPhone5, yet no one is screaming for the demise of Apple, or calling them liars (which they should.)
  • Not true... I've had several iPhone users mention the OIS fakes to me after I mentioned the Lumia. All are non-geeks and never read The Verge. Like it or not, it was mentioned in numerous sites where iPhone 5 & Lumia were compared - with the OIS issue haunting it like a ghost. I've seen a few articles casting Nokia in a very negative light, basically saying they rushed the new Lumias, in a panic to beat the iPhone5 announcement, and the OIS was faked out of desperation. Hopefully the actual release will shut everyone up about that... Or get them talking over how great it is
  • so you're saying we shouldn't read this breaking news posts on your site?
  • - _ -  No, though I am saying you missed the point of this article...
  • We got the point. But seriously, I how could any talk of exclusivity not cause people to dig out torches and pitchforks, especially when HTC managed deals with three of the big four? No matter what the real reasons for the deals, after Nokia's announcement a heck of a lot of us feel like we've been taken for a ride again.
  • While I like the 8 series HTC has put out, I prefer the L900. Since I found out MS is making their own phone, I'm going to attempt to wait to see it. Besides, I'm on a contract, and the longer I stay on it, the lower the early termination fee will be
  • WMPoweruser is reporting that MS is working with Huawei on the new MS phone and that it is going to be a midrange device.
    Not the best source but atleast its something other than Nokia news.
  • Hi Daniel, while I normally agree with you, I don't here. Tech geeks don't have well compensated PR departments, nor do tech geeks have to focus on delivering customer service. I am inclined to think/agree that some of the criticism directed at Nokia over this issue is overheated - but that is what happens in the world of delivering products to a retail market. Companies that handle it well anticipate problems and are prepared to deal with them in advance. Right now, Nokia is doing nothing to respond to the understandable frustration of potential future customers. Sure, Nokia can't announce what carriers are going to do, but they can speak directly directly to their fans - tech geeks. Important customers at that, as it is those tech geeks who drive what Malcolm Gladwell described as a "Tipping Point" for both products and companies. Something is obviously wrong if yesterdays announcement caused it to be a better day for HTC than for Nokia. Also, as a side note, I think that people consistently pointing out that the 820 or variations of it not being exclusive only makes people more irritated over this. No one who had their heart set on a 920 is going to have that wound salved by availability of the 820, not even a souped-up version of it. They would more likely buy a top of the line product from either HTC or Samsung than a second tier phone from Nokia, a phone that no matter how good it is would still irritate them as being a lesser phone than the Lumia 920. Irritation, frustration, disappointment and venting are understandable, and maybe even warranted right now given yesterdays announcement - at least in my opinion.
  • Imo people are so over dramatic about this. Granted this site is mostly by American's so i guess it makes sense, but still. 
    We are talkking about North America here. Nokia getting Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 available for China Mobile is 10 times more important than Nokia not having their phone via Verizon. Rest of the world does not know exclusives and are not locked to carrier tyranny. 
    HTC did not get any of it's WP's to China Mobile with 650 million subs. 
    China is Nokia's largest market and by far world largest Windows Phone market. Also world largest smartphone market. 
  • +1.
  • I dont understand why some people are trying to underestimate the significance of Verizon wireless in promoting the Lumia brand and Wp platform by citing the availability of the Lumia line in China mobile. It is true that China Mobile is the largest carrier in terms of number but Vodafone is the biggest in terms of coverage and revenue. Let's not forget that it was the aggressive marketing of Verizon wireless that push android to become a global force. I have traveled to China on a couple of times and the truth is not many people in China would dish out $ 500-800 to purchase a Smartphone( no disrespect to my Chinese friends) so it would be a bit difficult for China Mobile to push the Lumia 920 in drones as some people expecting. I never liked CDMA Technology and Im not a fan of Verizon Wireless but you got to respect them for the marketing prowess
  • "Nokia getting Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 available for China Mobile is 10 times more important than Nokia not having their phone via Verizon..."
    Well, it's 10 times more important for Nokia to be available for China Mobile.  But as I do not live in China and I'm restricted to Verizon due to business, it's 10 times more important to me that they be on Verizon.
    Obviously, Nokia needs to make enough to survive and China Mobile helps that but the concern being raised here isn't about Nokia's survival but about access to the 920 for individuals who aren't and don't want to be on AT&T.
  • @Heron...Your post was the most 'drama queen' post I've read today.
    Or perhaps you're being facetious?
  • Silly human, Nokia doesn't care about protesters. They care about the media who can make or break them but not the tech geek population. Their main concern is turning future isheeps into lumia-sheeps and that has nothing to do with us tech geeks, hopefully.
    The fact of the matter is that they need to get what they can now whether it is a truck of money and free marketing and brand awareness from At&T and Rogers.
    Getting smoked in sales by the iphone 5 and the GS3 on multiple carriers is technically worse than getting smoked by them on one carrier. It's just less messy. You take your AT&T money and free brand awareness and let them clean up the damage from the war.
    Apple waited for 3 years and Samsung whored out the GS1 and GS2 as exclusives until the time was right to strike. Nokia should do the same when they amass more power. Hopefully, the 940 is the right time with the iphone 5s sucking even more and the people using Android get overwhelmed by the constant customizing and rather be spoon fed.
  • I like being spoon fed. That's why I switched :D +1 but I disagree about Nokia waiting to release on multiple carriers. Who's stopping Nokia from making an unlocked device compatible with TMobile? If they are so confident in their product, they should release a non carrier branded phone compatible with all of the GSM frequencies. No need to get in bed with TMobile. Verizon might be a different ass hole altogether since they're CDMA but there are work around for TMOBILE. The marketing would have been done by word of mouth. No fucking way the camera isn't going to turn heads when you post your pics on farcebook. Excuse my language. Nokia fucked up with 900 and I suspect it will be the same with 920. Im on TMobile but im going to get the att 920 and pray that it works well with straight talk or some other prepaid carrier.
  • And I disagree because they're not going to reap the benefits of the windows 8 launch. People will opt for HTC when they learn about win8, rt, etc
  • I'm sorry I was pulling for Nokia bought the stock, bought the L710 on T-MO frankly I'm sick of the "exclusive" thing. I know T-MO will not get a high end WP8 though some would say the 8x is high end I don't at 16gb. BUT. at this point if Nokia puts the L820 on T-MO I'll buy the 8x just to say sorry I don't want the weeded down device. I'll vote with my wallet.
  • Yeah I'm with T-Mobile too and I'm really perplexed by the possibility of the same thing happening like it did with the Lumia 900. You have a phone that is the clear "I gotta have it" phone for customers and cripple your sales by only offering it on one carrier? NOTHING can justify the idea of selling your greatest achievement on ATT as opposed to ATT, T-Mobile, and Verizon. With that being said, the HTC 8X is a wonderful phone in its own right but hopefully Samsung can come in and save the day being the only high-end phone with expandable memory. Those are high end power houses in their own right and I believe T-Mobile will get both of them.
  • Well if Verizon gets a variant of the Lumia 920 it better be sooner than later. A 30 day exclusive with AT&T would be great. Anything longer and the hype wears off
  • If the 822 is what we think it is, there won't be any wait time.
  • Whatever it is, if it doesn't have a camera >= 920camera I'm not buying a Windows Phone.  I'll stick it out with my Trophy until something with that good a camera comes out.  There's no point in getting less, when that's what I wanted from the 920.  Some people want the sound - great, go for the 8x.  Some want screen size - great - go for the Ativ.  I want the camera.
  • @hopmedic...I would just like to say, that I enjoyed ready your very reasonable post.   It's been a challenge lately to read such, with all of the dramatic and over emotional responses various sites have been flooded with these past few days.
  • Well, I have to admit that if you'd read my tweets from yesterday (since deleted) calling for Elop's resignation (yes, I'm a stockholder), you wouldn't have told me that.  But I've calmed down, and yes, I'll agree with you.  Lots of emotion.  But that's what happens when they show us something that we really want, and then they tell us that we can't have it.  This is the problem with the anti-consumer attitudes that our US carriers feel that they have to have.  Ridiculous.  Just tell us what you're going to offer so that we have the right expectations from the start, and life would be a lot better.
  • I did put up a survey, though, to show Verizon and Nokia what we want.  And while the phone call I received today was in reply to a different email I'd sent the other day, I got a voice mail response to an email I'd sent to one of the Verizon execs through their website.  I'll call back on my way home, and I'll tell her about the survey.  So far, over 360 responses, 96% want the Lumia 920.
    If you're a Verizon customer let them know which phone you want.
  • Kudos!
    You did a good thing - contacting the carrier to express interest in a specific device and/or OS. 
    Many were upset when Verizon wasn't a launch partner back in 2010 when WP hit the market.  Many took the time to contact Verizon to express interest.  Did it have an instantaneous effect?  No.  But eventually, Verizon released the Trophy, albeit 6 to 7 months later.  No WP devices since then, but it looks as though more are on the way, and hopefully Nokia devices soon.
    Hope you get good news, and please, share :)
  • Update on my poll and Verizon's response. I had contacted Verizon execs through their website last year prior to Trophy's release, and spoke with one of the assistants in the Alpharetta, GA office (45 min from me) on the WP subject at length, several times. Last month after the 920 announcement, I reached out again, and spoke with the same woman, and she remembered me. Last week, when WPC ran the story of the rumored upcoming ATT reveal of the 920, I sent another message through email showing them the link to the article, and telling them that ATT was once again going to beat them through the gate, and that they were going to miss the boat. Thursday after hearing of the exclusivity, I was quite angry, and after settling down, I put up a poll on a site that I'd originally set up but never followed up on back when I was going to create a poll because I wanted to show VZW that people wanted WP because they didn't pick up any of the original Lumia devices. That poll is at (because I bought the domain name in January). Go take the three question poll, please. So far there have been more than 550 responses, and at this point, 96% want the Lumia 920 on Verizon. This morning, that same person from the Verizon Southeast Region Exec offices called me, said she'd just received my message (that I sent last week - who knows how many people it goes through), and wondered if ATT has released the phone. I told her that they announced Friday that it was going to be released on November 4. It was GREAT to be able to finally give them some solid information and not just rumor for a change. I also told her about my web page, and that there were only about 500 responses (this was before I looked at it this morning and realized there were over 550), and told her that I realize that's not a lot, but I'm a nobody with no name recognition, and no way to get it out there other than twitter, but at this point 96 want that phone. She said, "No, 500 voices is a lot of voices, and I appreciate that, and I'll take a look. I told her that there is a button at the bottom of the page that you can click to see the results without taking the poll. She said thanks, and she'll take a look, have a great day, and all that. Maybe we're making progress. Who knows?
  • I heard the 8X has a good camera too.
  • Not even close to the 920 tho....
  • True dat.  Good != Great.
  • But how will the 822 stack against the 920? Hopefully it will be comparable.
  • Good question, but I don't think it will matter to those declaring their disappointment in Nokia with their new found love in the HTC 8x.
  • @elcaporegresa....I didn't say anything was wrong with it; however, I do find aspects of it childish, dramatic, and immature.
  • So Verizon is getting another Mickey mouse device like they did with wp7 ala trophy? Who cares. Yawn!!
  • wasn't the case for the iphone 4, droid pro, Note....etc
  • At the very least, can we get to the bottom of this? Is it true on the exclusivity? And if so, WHO is responsible?
  • If you think details of the AT&T-Nokia contract ever see the light of day, you'll be disappointed.
  • I'm going to upgrade on my timeline. If Nokia wants my business, they can have a Lumia 92x device on Verizon. Otherwise, hello HTC 8X. It's really that simple.
  • Agreed. I don't know who's "fault" it is.. Or even if there's anything to be all that concerned about. But I do know.. I won't switch my carrier simply for a phone. And I HOPE these companies realize that there are a lot of people like this.
  • I used to feel this way until my carrier decided to hate WP (Sprint).  So I jumped ship to AT&T and have enjoyed the best phone selection ever.  I do pay a bit more monthly but it isn't substantial and I do have better and much faster coverage in my area. I use on average 1GB of data per month so the limits AT&T imposes do not impact me. Looking at ANdroid, WP, and the iPhone, AT&T has the largest most diverse selection of all carriers and this is more important to me than saving a few dollars per month.
  • Oh don't get me wrong..  If I was on Sprint I'd do the same!  Lol.  Sprint has never been a dominate force in the wireless world in my opinion.  But I'm on Verizon.  Absolutely superior when it comes to coverage.  I could have switched to AT&T or TMobile, paid less, and had a HUGE selection of windows phones.  Instead I stayed with the better carrier, wiling to pay more, and I have an HTC Trophy.  Frankly, ANY wp8 will be an upgrade, and I'll gladly take the 8x.  I just can't see switching to a different carrier with not so great coverage for a phone.
  • Anyone notice on nokia global website ( it says 920 & 820 both support 1700 WCDMA band. This is the same band that T-mobile US amd Wind/Mobilicity Canada uses. And those are the only carriers that use the 1700 WCDMA in North America. Other than that its ony Japan that uses this
  • It'll be a non-issue only to those who live where the network has been refarmed. I expect the process to take well over a year, if not two.