AT&T in Talks With Nokia for Its Windows Phone Devices


AT&T (NYS: T) Mobility is negotiating with Nokia (NYS: NOK) to carry its smartphones running Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone software starting next year, a senior AT&T executive said.

"We look at every promotional period separately and decide what we're going to spend our dollars on and what we're going to put our efforts in," Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices unit, told Bloomberg in an interview during a conference organized by Morgan Stanley in Barcelona, Spain. "But nothing to announce there on that yet."

Lurie's comments are the first official indication -- though not an outright confirmation -- of a U.S. carrier's intent to sell Nokia's Windows Phone devices. Rumors sprang up last week that AT&T will launch an LTE variant of Nokia's high-end Lumia 800 Windows Phone smartphone.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said last month that Nokia will release LTE and CDMA devices for specific markets, and Nokia has reportedly been working closely with Verizon (NYS: VZ) Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA on its first Windows Phone devices, to hit the U.S. early next year. Historically, GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have been Nokia's strongest U.S. partners. There have also been rumors recently that T-Mobile will launch the Lumia 710, Nokia's mid-range Windows Phone device.

The phones have gone on sale in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K., and Elop said that the response has been strong so far. "The reaction is remarkably positive," Elop told Bloomberg at the same conference in Barcelona. "We need to introduce the experience to consumers to get them to try it because we know once they try it they will like it."

Indeed, Orange U.K., for example, said preorders for the Lumia 800 have been higher than for any other Nokia handset in its portfolio. But two unnamed operator sources told the Financial Times that preorders for the device have been far fewer than for Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPhone 4S, which went on sale Oct. 14 and has already sold over 4 million units around the world.

Still, Elop said Nokia has a plan in place to roll out and market the devices and is executing on it. "We have taken a very deliberate strategy to how we roll out the Lumia product line," he said. "We know we have a lot of work to do step by step, so we look at it as a build."

AT&T's Lurie also swung some support to Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) at the conference. "RIM is getting a lot of grief right now," he said, adding that RIM's new QNX smartphones coming next year will aid the company. "But I wouldn't count them out. ... RIM still holds a nice share in the U.S. There is still a very, very nice share of RIM customers on the AT&T network."

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