What Is Microsoft's Plan For Lumia 950, 950 XL Carrier Availability?

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Blinken

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Slow burn approach like the Google Nexus line probably won't be successful given the tiny market share of windows phones. Now if these could be rooted and flashed with AOSP, wew.
 

bigedmustafa

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Giving AT&T exclusive rights to all of the latest Windows phones and then watching them bury them at the bottom of their website and not even bothering to display them in stores has worked wonders so far. I think Microsoft is wise to stay the course... assuming the Windows Phone division is a tax shelter of some kind. At least Sony has the same problem here in the U.S., and it isn't just Windows Phones.
 

g-unit1111

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Once again same old story - great product, horrible marketing department. I'm on Sprint and this is one of the best phones that I have seen in a long time, I would buy one in a heartbeat!
 

slyviper

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I have been with WP since 6.5 and currently using a 2 year old 1520 that has worked flawlessly. I work in a tech company that employs around 200 people and I see every one complaining about there phones locking up, burning thru battery life and getting way to hot. Then they praise their I-phones and Androids and laugh at my old Windows Phone and the belief that there are no apps for the windows. Well my phone has never locked up, never gets hot and the battery last forever. As for apps, there is an app for everything I need. You can only have variations of Candy Crush and Angry Birds or the multiple variations of the Facebook App... etc. The cellular companies in the US have never supported WP which is why I bought mine from Microsoft. So if the cry baby from T-Mobile is serious about carrying the 950 and giving his customers a quality phone, I suggest he get off his ass and talk to Microsoft and fully support the line this time around. One thing I can promise everyone is if you want a great reliable phone the try WP. You wont regret it.
 

falchard

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T-Mobile would be a great carrier for Windows Phone. I bought my Nokia 635 from them a year ago, and they were shown quite prominently with excited employees about the product. Particularly what it offers for the money. They weren't trying to sell me on an Android because "its better" like other carriers.
Also the days of the Windows Phone deficient storefront are over with the ability to easily port Android and iOS applications.
 

alextheblue

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Assuming John Legere is being completely honest, there must have been some benefit from a timed "exclusive" with AT&T. But, it's not really exclusive since they sell them unlocked. Frankly I don't care whether the carriers get the devices or not, unlocked is fine by me. BUT they do need to get a Sprint/Verizon compatible CDMA version out the door at some point.
 

amk-aka-Phantom

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Typically, if you want to sell a lot of smartphones, the process is as follows:

Step 1: Create an attractive phone with solid hardware
Step 2: Secure support from as many carriers as possible
Step 3: Profit
Imagine if you had to buy a car from a certain gas station chain and then always refuel there and nowhere else. Ridiculous, innit? Then why are Americans tolerating this nonsense for phones? And why is it "baffling" that MS decided to sell both phones unlocked via their own store instead of investing a lot of resources into this carrier mess? Do people also get "baffled" when they have to buy a laptop from Amazon or BestBuy and not Comcast or some other ISP?

I'm on Sprint and this is one of the best phones that I have seen in a long time, I would buy one in a heartbeat!
So buy it from MS store and insert your Sprint SIM. What's the problem? How do you people even travel if you're not familiar with this simple concept?
 

Snip3rM00n

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So buy it from MS store and insert your Sprint SIM. What's the problem? How do you people even travel if you're not familiar with this simple concept?
CDMA networks such as Sprint and Verizon do not work that way. Having been an employee of Sprint and dealing with upgrading customer devices I can tell you with certainty that when you switch to a new device on these networks the SIM card doesn't mean much. What a CDMA network activates a phone on is the phone's IMEI or MSN number. So, if I took my SIM card out of my CDMA device and dropped it into a different CDMA device that device will not make or receive calls and texts using my phone number and would not access the data network. I would need to contact my provider and give them the IMEI or MSN number. The problem with that is, if these numbers are not in their database (and considering Sprint and Verizon prefer to take the subsidized device route, the number's wouldn't be) then they couldn't activate the phone and help us program them with the phone number and MSID. So we on CDMA carriers couldn't just buy an unlocked Lumia 950/950xl and drop our SIM card in it because it would literally do nothing for us.

GSM carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile and most of the rest of the world's providers) on the other hand just rely on the SIM card to provide the service. In which case you can just take the SIM card out of one device and drop it in another and you're good to go.

Also, if the device is using a GSM radio chipset you cannot activate it on a CDMA network. Likewise, you can't take a phone with a CDMA radio chipset and activate it on a GSM network. The device and network literally could not talk to each other. Since the Lumia 950 series are currently GSM only, CDMA users get the shaft.
 

Urganite

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CDMA needs to finish going the way of the dinosaur, as has been much touted over the course of the last decade. I applaud MS for not pandering to the antiquated device-locking system relics of the past.
 

p05esto

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Oh come on already. I'm on Verizon and have been waiting over a year to upgrade from my Lumia 928, which is a great phone but starting to show its age.

Do they really expect me to change carriers? This stinks. How long are we supposed to wait?
 

jasonf2

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In a recent interview Microsoft's VP of Windows and Devices Terry Myerson says Microsoft never wants customers to be in a position where they'd prefer Windows 10 but simply refuse to buy a Windows 10 computer because there's no suitable hardware available. This carrier move creates that very situation. For many of us (myself included) we can not simply move around to different carriers. We have multiple family devices with contracts coupled with the fact that Verizon is the only carrier with acceptable tower support across our market area.
I hope that Microsoft gets this thing figured out. We are sitting on the threshold of another evolutionary shift in the smartphone sector. The overall processing power in a mobile chipset finally sits at the threshold of direct desktop replacement via a dock setup. Throw in wireless charging and 802.11ad (60ghz) and we are very realistically only a couple of generations away from phones being the mainstream desktop PC replacement. I know that the business and gamers will still need a different class of higher power consumption hardware for a while, but if Moore's law holds up at all even that is closer to being blurred than what one thinks.
That reality should be the imperative reason for Microsoft to be all in to gain smartphone OS traction. I think that Google has really done a pretty good job of paving the way for what this takes. Quit focusing on making phones for third world countries and start making reference devices so awesome and available that everyone wants to copy them. Microsoft cannot go into this mature market with the android/iOS dominance thinking that they can be another Apple and pave this alone. Apple had the first to market advantage that no one will ever have again. Android is where it is today because a multi-manufacture ecosystem fought out the race to the bottom trying to compete with Apple. If that doesn't sound familiar it should for Microsoft. It is the same story that played out for their OS dominance in the early PC days. The race to the bottom has already happened with smartphones so Microsoft's only hope here is to be a forerunner blurring the lines between PC and phone. And for that I have been waiting months to replace my Samsung Note and would have bought the 950XL. But I can't because my carrier who represents 40% of the market share isn't going to carry it and now I am going to go out and settle for the big IPhone 6s.
 

Avus

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What MS need to do are:
- no exclusive carrier. That is the most stupid way to expand your unpopular product!!
- lower the price. Your phone may be as good as Apple or Samsung but very few will care if they are as expensive as iPhone and Galaxy. $$ is always the most effective way...
 

Adam-dotNet

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I might be on an island here but this seems like MS is playing the same rollout that both Apple and Samsung did. When Apple released the iPhone, wasn't it an AT&T exclusive for years? Wasn't the Epic 4G only available to Sprint customers for a good six months (before any other Galaxy S phone was released in the US)?

I can squint and see a strategy here with one carrier - admittedly this might not remotely correspond with MS' reasoning. With that caveat out there, if you wanted to try build any momentum, then consolidating most of your minute market share within one channel seems reasonable. MS has today something shy of 3% US marketshare in smart phones, if you could get 2/3rds of that on one carrier, that's likely the largest bloc of voices they've had. And that group could have potentially more influence than spreading 3% over four channels. Additionally, there is likely more ease at putting all your marketing might behind one carrier for a 3-6 month period than spreading over four (esp. when the likes of Sprint and Vz have been horrible at promoting your product). If after six months, the brand's identity is on an uptick (even slight) and they release a Surface phone for summer on all carriers, that would have a better bet of broader acceptance than if they released the 950/950xl to all carriers today.

In the end, these are fan phones - and as a fan, I am taking my toys from Verizon to AT&T to have one. And if they release a Surface phone in May/June of Vz, I'll likely be back with that this time next year.
 

scolaner

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I might be on an island here but this seems like MS is playing the same rollout that both Apple and Samsung did. When Apple released the iPhone, wasn't it an AT&T exclusive for years? Wasn't the Epic 4G only available to Sprint customers for a good six months (before any other Galaxy S phone was released in the US)? .
The iPhone was the most sought-after computing device in the world during that time. AT&T getting the carrier exclusive on that was a MAJOR coup for the mobile provider.

But with these Lumia phones, there's not a strong demand for them--see the market share numbers you noted. Microsoft needs to CREATE demand, and it needs to do that by making these phones available via every outlet possible, in conjunction with a massive ad and education campaign.

Anything less simply won't work, and the Windows Phone market share will remain minimal.
 

jasonf2

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I am in total agreement with the prior post. The smartphone market has already matured. The Iphone exclusivity only worked for Apple because there was nothing else like it in the market at that time and everyone was IPod crazy. Jump forward 10 years and the new Iphone is released annually on all carriers just like every other device, regardless of GSM or CDMA. If Microsoft has unlocked CDMA versions available this would be less of a deal but most people in the US still buy their phones at the brick and mortar outlets of their carrier. If it isn't sitting there being presented at the store these things are not going to sell and Microsoft just locked itself out of 50% of the US market. No matter how awesome the product is this is not a PC product that I can go anywhere to buy and use. No matter how much it stinks the US Cellular market has a built in technology difference (GSM vs CDMA) that none of the carriers really want to resolve. It is far to easy to continue on and lock their devices to their own towers without taking personal blame or deal with legislation. If the single channel carrier bit really worked Apple would have never redesigned the IPhone to handle CDMA in the first place. But they did.
 

Adam-dotNet

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I don't ascribe success to their plan, nor do I even know that logic was part of it, just pointing out a corollary. And I'd say that with the Epic 4G, there wasn't pre-hype that I recall before they hit Sprint stores. The Epic (and the Evo) got a lot of press once folks put them in their hands however and that took off. Bottom line, creating some unfulfilled desire doesn't always lead to a product's demise.

As for "how" to create high demand for "these" phones, noone shown so far they know how to do that. My guess is that when there is a bonefide Surface Phone, that will be pushed to all carriers in all markets that have the infrastructure to make them look good. So the "anything less won't work" doesn't wash with these phones. I personally think that until they get past the Vz and Sprint sales staff actively trying to push folks away from the platform, they will not have anything that will work from a marketing perspective at those outlets.

In my (you guys apparently think crazed) view, the notion of consolidating at this time to one US carrier might have some value in concentrating that small fan faction into a slightly more influential one. At the same time, if that 2.x% all concentrated at AT&T doesn't grow, what they do next year will likely not matter.
 

jasonf2

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More than likely their development budgets got cut and in a best choice effort Microsoft went after the GSM setup due to international network adoption. ATT is probably giving a kickback like they did with Apple and Verizon is notoriously terrible to work with.
 

royalt1217

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Gotta get a CDMA fix. As much as I'd like to jump ship for a flagship Windows 10 Device I will not. Use a little Common Sense MS and get it while the getting is good... The market is itching for a phone specc'ed as the 950's are... . Do whatever it takes to get them in the hands of consumers!!! I need a new device because my aging Nokia 822 on Verizon is on it's last leg and I've been waiting to see what MS does. C'mon and make it happen Microsoft. P.S. I know many of us which will not for any circumstance buy a phone without a removable battery and expandable memory, take my money MS>! I guess worse comes to worse I'll settle for the 735 Selfie phone on VZ, but I will not be happy being forced to settle because of Microsoft's short-sightedness.
 

scolaner

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It's funny, I was just writing a response to you asking why a "Surface Phone" would make any difference, because even if such a device had insane specs, why would anyone pay the commensurate markup (are we talking $1,000 here?), and then I realized that you have a really good point. Such a device could push the phone-as-PC paradigm even further than the 950/950 XL can.

In that sense, maybe the 950/950 XL is a sort of dress rehearsal for how users will actually use their phones with the Display Dock and peripherals on a big monitor. Interesting...

The other thing is that we should remember that these are kind of "world phones"...and Windows Phone has a much larger market share in other parts of the world. In some European countries, for example, it has double-digit market share.

I've written about this before: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/microsoft-global-windows-phone-strategy,28697.html

Granted, that's more about the low-end, but the main idea is that Microsoft sees international markets as a key to Windows Phone success.
 

amk-aka-Phantom

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A very thorough explanation, thank you. I keep forgetting CDMA is a thing. Where I'm from, they dropped it 20 years ago :D

 

Adam-dotNet

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scolaner, our dialog is given a bit more color considering the article on Windows Central this afternoon that the preorder stock of Surface Books are sold out ... and the first to go, the highest end of the price range (without doubt, the fewest they built due to said cost but telling nonetheless). I think they are onto something here with the Surface brand. I don't think they (MS) are as sold on the 950/950XL but I am betting that if enough users get this in their hands and it is made of the liquid cooled pixie dust many of us think it is, then when they are ready to release the Surface Phone, there is a market for it. Not thinking we are talking anything that would scare Apple or Samsung, but combined with worldwide sales and feature phone saturation, they might have a real marketing strategy after all.

I am hopeful that the 950/950XL is the Surface Pro 2 stage of their phone play. It remains to be seen if they can make it all work. I think however those that wanted or expected an all-in-one fix to their smartphone market share gap are looking for a silver bullet in an industry that has precious few of them and rarely are they sustaining.
 
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