updated 11:55 am EDT, Sat March 31, 2012
Windows Phone promo triggers rare spike
Microsoft has extended its in-store Smoked By Windows Phone contest several more days in what may be one of the first real signs of sustained demand for its mobile platform. Originally due to end March 29, it will now last until April 5. The daily free prizes for losing the device test have been capped to prevent stock-outs, however and will now see only the first 100 visitors who take the test get a phone for free.
Those who fall outside of the first 100 now get a $25 gift card for the Microsoft Store. Regardless, the $1,000 special edition The Hunger Games HP Folio 13 is still available.
The promise of a free phone on contract has triggered long lines at Microsoft Stores, a rarity for the company. Reports from the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego, the Mall of America in Minnesota, and the presumed Microsoft-friendly Bellevue Square Mall in Washington state have all seen long lines even before opening. Some have reported waiting hours with no guarantee they would get a free phone.
The effect at least partly reflects the same giveaway strategy Microsoft has had to use to generate lines for its own store openings, where it gives away free tickets to a pop star's concert to get queues that would never have appeared otherwise. They nonetheless show an at least latent demand for Microsoft's phone OS, although whether that's sustainable when there's any up-front price for a Windows Phone is still uncertain. Demand has been healthy for the Nokia Lumia 710 at T-Mobile, but Windows Phone remains outsold by Android phones at that carrier and is usually distant to the iPhone and Android at other carriers.
Extending the contest until April 5 is also likely a deliberate timing to clear stock and maintain interest until the Lumia 900's April 8 release. Although the Easter holiday means Americans usually won't have an option of buying the new Nokia phone until Monday, it could keep Windows Phone interest higher than usual and help AT&T get its hoped-for strong launch. [via Down Right Wireless; second image via Michael Momsen]