updated 03:20 pm EDT, Wed April 11, 2012
Small check shows Nokia coaching not swaying minds
Early investigations have suggested that Nokia and AT&T attempts to have staff use the Lumia 900 may not be having an impact on actual recommendations in the short term. A tour by CNET of five Manhattan-area AT&T stores just after launch showed that staff not only didn't know much about the Windows Phone flagship but were actively steering users to the iPhone. A companion check by IDC researcher Ramon Llamas in Massachusetts showed one Windows Phone recommendation, but most recommended Android hardware like the Galaxy Note.
"Windows Phone is alright, but it's no iPhone," said one of the New York City store staffers even after being prompted about the Lumia 900.
Microsoft's Windows Phone senior product manager Greg Sullivan reconfirmed that Nokia and Microsoft were working to train staff, but that covering all of the 2,200 was "not something that can be accomplished overnight." Training would go on past the initial period.
The inability to get voluntary recommendations reflects an ongoing reversal of fortune for Microsoft, which has been put in Apple's old position from the 1990s at retail as staff recommend an Apple or Google platform while omitting or even downplaying Microsoft's own. Windows Phone's late arrival into the smartphone market has left it facing an Android and iOS duopoly and store staff that have only ever known one of the two platforms.
AT&T may have unwittingly created its own obstacles to endorsing Windows Phone. By making Apple offer the iPhone as a four-year exclusive to its network, AT&T inextricably linked its name with the iPhone's and kept it the majority iPhone carrier even after Verizon and later Sprint signed on. Even its collective Android sales have so far stayed clearly behind those of the iPhone.