Report: Nokia paying AT&T for exclusive employee use of the Lumia 900

We've heard numerous times that the Nokia Lumia 900 will be a "hero" device for AT&T, a term that is unfamiliar for many who are not in the business of smartphones. Here, the usage refers to AT&T promoting the Lumia 900 on the level of the Apple iPhone meaning we should expect a very intensive media campaign for the flagship Nokia device and it taking center stage on one of the largest carriers in the US.

One way to do that is to put the phone in the hands of those on the front lines -- the sales reps at the AT&T stores. More information has rolled in over the last few hours since we broke the April 9th street date for the 900. First, we know that the phones started arriving at AT&T stores over the last two days and that employee training on the Windows Phone OS (and this specific hardware) will take place on March 26th, April 6th and 7th at those outlets.

Next is the big news: AT&T has designated the Nokia Lumia 900 for 'Company Use' meaning all Front Seller employees are eligible to receive the phone at no cost. The trade off is though is that employees have to turn in their current 'Company Use' phones, namely the iPhone and certain Android devices.

You read that right: Nokia is paying, we hear up to $25 million, for AT&T employees to exclusively use the Lumia 900 instead of the iPhone and Android. Nokia is expecting more than 80% of employees to be using their flagship Windows Phone for participation in the CU program (employees can opt to use any phone they want at a discount, but CU phones are provided for free), which should go a long way in convincing those employees the merits of the OS, resulting in positive word of mouth and high sales.

So why is AT&T so keen on promoting Windows Phone, specifically the Nokia Lumia 900? Sure, there is money involved but in addition but we're told that the feeling at AT&T is that the company is trying to get away from being "the iPhone carrier" and are looking to differentiate their lineup from their competition. The Lumia 900 is a device they can get behind to do that -- not just because of the financial incentive, but because this phone represents a real chance for the fledgling OS to shine. That should sit well with many of you who are worried about the fate of Microsoft's mobile OS.

Oh and before we close out, we're also told that the HTC TITAN and Samsung Focus S are to be put on the End of Life (EOL) list, meaning their future availability will be phased out from current inventory without being replenished. (Well, there had to be some bad news, right?)

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Nokia, you're doing it right :)
  • Yeah they are!!!
    When WPCentral posted about the Lumia 900 being in stores now, I didn't even read the article, just the title and ran out to who I thought would have it, the Microsoft Store... HAHA would have helped if I read the article since they didn't have them yet. They did start this today though. :)
    So in the Microsoft Store I read the article and went around the block to the closet AT&T store. They didn't have them (yet) but I can confirm the employee training on March 26th since the assistant manager showed me the screen while looking for information on the release date.
    So I left there and went to another AT&T store and they had the 900! I got to mess around with one and snapped this picture. They received 6 or 8 of them I think they said and while talking to the girl that let me mess with her Lumia 900 I can see three other employees playing with there’s snapping pictures of themselves laughing and having a good time with it.
    The girl did tell me that she had to give up her Android company phone to receive the Lumia 900 but she seemed pretty happy about it. She liked how she had Xbox on the 900 and thought the Xbox games where really good.
    She did tell me that she also has a personal phone that's an iPhone but when I told her about the promotion going on at the Microsoft Store, she was thinking of taking her iPhone in and getting a free WP7 from the challenge.
    So yeah, this is finally going down and after messing with the Lumia 900, I'm sold!
  • Pretty neat experience you had there!  $$$ wise though, losing an iPhone wouldn't be your best plan of action.  I wonder if they will give you a 900 if you have a top tier iPhone / Android; else a lower tier Android will just get you a 700 or something?  Anyway, my point is that she'd be better off swapping her iPhone to a friend for their old Android and then taking the challenge (aka, using the trade in, haha)
  • I left that part out since my comment was getting lengthy. She said she would be keeping her iPhone and would go with signing a new two year contract for a free Windows Phone. She must be eligible on her personal account.
  • Totally awesome!! Get WP some spotlight and show people how wonderful this OS is. Plus how beautiful the Nokia 900 is.
  • Oh Nokia! Yes show how to do things....
  • I used to work in sporting goods retail, and all of the "hardgoods" manufacturers (tennis rackets, skis, golf clubs, etc) would give the staff cost MINUS 20-50% off just to get us using their products.  Think about it, when you go in to get a pair of skis, how often to people ask the sales person "what do YOU use".
    Same thing here.
    Plus.  Being  the most misunderstood OS out there, this will get them using and talking about WP.
    This is some of THE BEST money Nokia could have spent on advertising!
  • amen to that!
  • Wow, what a way to end an article lol
  • :-P No drama here, just to the point, lol
  • If mr Rubino ever watches the "mafia-series" Lilyhammer... He should feel right at home with Norwegian spirit:)
  • Nokia = GOD!!!!
  • Very good move, Nokia!! Lumia 900 will be on fire...
  • What's the e o l list.
  • EOL=End of Life, I'll clarify in the post
  • this is awesome.  no more of this fucking iphone craze in the stores.  cant wait for the displays.
  • AT&T has the better WP7 phones. So their plan to differentiate themselves may be working. I think I'll switch for the 900.
    Too bad about the Samsung Focus S. I'm using it unlocked on T-Mobile (at 2G speeds) and still like it more than the HD7.
  • Yes they R and thank the question is do I switch from Tmobile to At&t..or wait it out. From reading this, it seems like the 900 is going to be at&t next iPhone, which could mean years of exclusiveness (include next generations).. ..
  • If the Focus S is EOL does that mean the Mendel(SG3 little brother) is coming soon?
    /I really think At&t only wants LTE phones from here on
  • I think that is fair to assume, yes.
  • Didn't the Mendel just pass FCC certification recently?  So it's far to assume that a WP7 based on the SGIII chassis is on its way.  However, concidering Samsung not being that much behind Windows Phone (over what the other products they are selling and marketing) I would much rather have a Nokia.  I did love my Focus, and the Focus S is a good phone, I just believe that Nokia would be the better choice period.
  • Where's the guy who was always commenting this: "what do you do when nobody wants your phone? You give them away!"
    That's completly approprieted here !!
    But that's a real god strategy... Nokia !!!
  • Wp7 for life..:D:D!!!!!sprint needs to get off their butt and walk it out...
  • Hey guys, just so you know, two days ago one of our assistant store managers said that only 5 or 6 employees would be getting the Nokia phone. It's not 100% sure that all employees will get a Nokia phone.
  • Thats because your manager is taking the rest of them for himself. ;)
  • Wow Nokia is killing HTC, I believe my 1st WP8 will be made by Nokia (HTC HD7 TMobile USA)
  • Does this include Radio Shack and BestBuy employees?
  • (Insert impatient complaint by an early WP7 adopter about how badly Nokia is screwing up the release of this phone here...)
    Good things come to those who wait!
  • this is good news for me it would be GREAT news if we inserted Sprint everywhere you mentioned at&t. oh and didnt the focus S just come out? if so what was the point of releasing it?
  • Wow, doesn't anyone proofread their work any more? :-/
  • Nokia wouldn't have to pay me. I'd pay them. All Nokia has to do is release it for T-mobile
  • I second that,
  • Hopefully when the so called "Apollo" phones come out. For now, I'll have to make due with my HTC Radar......
  • Oh the horror to have to trade your 'old' phone for something better. Send me a job app so I can get a free phone.
  • Good show Nokia. Not so happy my 4 month old Titan is going EOL. I guess we see now why they are dragging their feet on updates. I'm glad I only paid a penny, yet sad I wasted my upgrade. When can we get the 900 unlocked, unbranded is my question. Oh, and will it have VVmail?
  • Replying to myself. Confirmed that Titan II and 900 will have VVmail. Anyone want to buy a Titan with dock?
  • I think it's more about clearing out all non-LTE phones. I am very happy with my Titan but if this means we should expect nothing for updates, then that is really bad.  Fine, EOL the phone to push LTE, but don't screw over people who just used an upgrade.  Might lose customers.  Is customer retention worth whatever it costs them to test MS/HTC software upgrades?  I'd think so.
    If the XDA community figures out how to unlock the phone then unbranding sounds like what I'll be doing, especially if it means tethering will start working.
  • Wow!
  • Wait a second! Did you get a Cyan Lumia 900 from At&t through "sources" ? Are you holding the one in the second pic? (curious... curious..... hmmm...) ;-)
  • It's understandable that the Titan is going EOL since the release of the Titan II is impending. The Focus S OTOH is still quite a ways away from having an LTE replacement. The Samsung Mandel has yet to be officially announced. Samsung sure is dragging its feet.
  • The Titan and Focus S being EOL at AT&T? Can we have them now over at T-Mobile then? Please?  smh  May have to make the switch to AT&T.
  • Don't do that, when T-mobile finishes refarmimg their existing network and rolls out LTe we will be able to use any phone with full compatibility. Even the LTe ones.
  • It just passed FCC  last wek.  It could be announced anytime now as well.  For are we know it could yet be coming at the same time as the 900 and Titan II
  • I agree, T-Mobile needs to offer some higher end WP7 phones.
    The Radar & 710 are nice and all, But... the Titan & Focus S are alot nicer.
  • This is the greatest news I heard since windows phone launched!!
  • Im really starting to hate on Samsung. They haven't done anything in terms of advertising
  • They're too busy sucking on the Android teat and promoting the Note.
  • Sure they do... They're very busy advertising how wonderful the Galaxy Note is...
  • That's all fine and dandy, Nokia. But what if we don't want to pay $200 a month for limited AT&Me data? Release the damn phone with Sprint or TMobile for God's sake.
  • Amen brother.........
  • That's up to the carriers, not Nokia!!
  • Nokia has nothing to do with it. Nokia offered, and Sprint, Verizon refused by saying that WP has no future, while T-Mob signed on to 710.
  • If that's what it takes to wipe the glazed look off of the faces iPhone/Android users, then so be it.   People are reluctant to change which is understandable but getting first hand, front line people using the phone will go a long way.
    It will be nice to walk into a store and have someone say "You don't want an Android, you want this" and brandishes the sexy 900. :)
  • Oh Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!  It's about damn time they took it serious.
  • The thing is my brother works for AT&T, he told me only 30% of all of AT&Ts sales come from the corporate stores so they need to extend this to the Bestbuys and Radio shacks around the country.
  • Props to Nokia for getting it right!It will be a sweet day when the sales reps finally aren't jamming Android/Apple crap down our throats and we can hear the familiar sounds of Windows Phones permeating AT&T stores like a chorus from above.
  • I can see the Titan being phased out (even though they said otherwise when the Titan II was announced). But now Samsung has very few WP devices out. Makes one wonder if they are going to get completely in bed with Android.
    Pretty alarming given that these devices arent even a year old and have essentially identicle specs to the Lumia phones.
  • Sprint's data isn't TRULY unlimited. Hit 6GBs and see what happens. Also, their ads are misleading in terms of what you actually use. Since at&t put caps in place, have you heard of anyone going way way over? The only reason Sprint offers Unlimited is because they HAVE TO to survive. And there are those that still have the illusion that they "need" unlimited. Mobile web was not intended to replace home internet.
  • Some people can't afford both (me included) but need a phone. So, you get both in one! I'm on T-mobile and love having internet sharing for my home laptop & Xbox. But even without those I use between 4-5 gbs on my phone, monthly. So I think your logic is slightly flawed here. Some people do need & should be able to get unlimited data.
  • Great to see Nokia doing this. More 900's for everyone. Not bad news about the Focus S, Samsung can go suck it, they have made a mess of WM and WP and are far too concerned about the Note to do anything with WP now. Nokia and HTC are the only two OEM's making any effort with WP so funnel more resources to the two and enjoy the battle. As for Sprint, those people waiting for good news should stop. I read an article the other day where Dan Hesse said they want to go hilt deep with the iPhone so don't expect any good WP news from them soon.
  • Exactly, they're too concerned about missing the boat on the iPhone. Now they're going to miss the boat on the next big thing, Windows Phone!
  • AH! It's so beautiful I could cry!
  • Oh how I hate those ugly AT&T boxes. I was hoping to see Lumia launch with an original Nokia box, not this orange crap.
  • Yes cause a box is that important
  • Presentation is always important. Believe it or not, but presentation of any product always decides if it's going to be successful or not.
  • Well if it matters that much to you. If I'm lucky enough to get one with the Nokia box, I'll keep the phone and send you the box
  • Goodbye iPhone.
  • Great to See that Nokia is making a push for Windows Phone
    Wonder if EOL includes the Focus Flash has well..
  • I can't wait for this thing to come to tmobile
  • Yep my girl works for at&t and her manager gave her one yesterday.. She likes it but she is more an ios user so she hotspots her iPad with it.
  • This is great news and I like the way Nokia is going about business. This makes me wish I had gotten that job with ATT now But as for EOL, the Titan I can understand because the Titan 2 is coming out but why would they do that for the Focus S? It hasn't been out that long to disappear yet. Still great news. I'll be going over to ATT stores to drool over their phones. Darn you T-Mobile!
  • You can hotspot a Lumia...
  • they just got them! :D
  • What about other retailers like Best Buy?  Are MS and Nokia concentrating only on AT&T brick and mortar or are they going to address the sales staff at Best Buy, Staples, Frys, WalMart, and other cell phone retailers that sell phones for other providers?
    BTW - Just stopped into an AT&T store in the north Dallas/Fort Worth area and they didn't have a clue.
  • WOW, tempted to get a part time job at AT&T selling phones....Just to get a Lumina 900 :)
  • I just wish the other 3 companies would follow suit, maybe not to the extent ATT has not give us something. Are you listening TMo
  • Meant to say "but give us something" thank you and good day :)
  • I have used Windows phone since they released it.  Want to upgrade to Nokia 900 but now plan on going iPhone.  Why?  Because once you buy a windows phone, service carriers don't care to release any OS updates.  Have HTC Titan and keyboard still disappears once in a while despite fix having been released by Microsoft months ago.
    Apple releases their updates directly, bypassing the carrier.  I wish MS would do the same and stop using the useless carriers who don't care because they already have your money.  Android users are on the same boat, albeit carriers release Android updates more frequently, probably because more people use it.
    Too bad for me - I was really looking forward to the Nokia 900.
  • Stopped by att store.  one sales person had a lumia.  He let me handle it for while, but he was not familiar with it.  He also was still in a negative mindset to the device. He talked more about what it could not do, and what he did not like.  Admitedly he was not scheduled to undergo training until the 10th, but he softly confirmed the 8/9 release date.
  • bring in the white lumia