iPhones and Androids Have a Brand-New Rival

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) launched the Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) Lumia 900 smartphone with plenty of swagger. One top executive promised that the event would outshine any promotional event AT&T has ever done, including the launches of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhones. "Before you walk in to the store, you know this is our hero phone," said Jeff Bradley, senior VP of devices. "We're going big. We're really bullish."

The phone hit store shelves on Easter Sunday, when pretty much every storefront was closed for business. Despite that wacky blunder, Ma Bell appears to have sold out of its entire Lumia inventory just one week later. AT&T's online store lists both the black and cyan-faced models as "temporarily out of stock."

Spot checks around my neck of the woods also failed to turn up a Lumia 900 in the wild. Store clerks told me that the initial inventory sold out quickly, and that the very small second batch was gone within minutes of hitting the shelves. Of course, nobody wanted to talk about unit volumes, but we're clearly looking at a hot commodity here.

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) appears to have the black Lumia in stock, though the cyan one is backordered for up to two weeks. The two colors are listed as the two best-selling phones in Amazon's catalog at the moment. Mind you, the e-tailer doesn't carry iPhones, which makes it harder to get an objective idea of the relative sales. And either way, Amazon is pretty tight-lipped about its unit volumes and prefers to think in terms of best-seller lists.

So there's a ton of things we don't know about the Lumia 900's first week. We don't have any hard numbers, no press releases about a blowout premiere, no statements from a blushing company representative.

But you can't build pre-launch hype like that and then leave stores with thin and light inventories of the "hero phone." I think it's fair to say that Nokia has its first smartphone success on American soil here. That also counts as a hit for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , which is eager to get American consumers acquainted with -- maybe even lusting after -- Windows phones like the Lumia.

Apple and the Android gang had better take the Lumia line seriously. Nokia and Microsoft want their share of the trillion-dollar mobile pie, and they're coming to get it.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nokia, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Apple and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2012, at 2:12 AM, Fruitfan wrote:

    I'm going to guess that Nokia shipped small initial supplies to AT&T stores. There certainly were no lines at any of the stores and two days after going on sale I walked into an AT&T store and played with one for a few minutes. Was not impressed as it seemed outdated. But they had plenty available the clerk said and the same clerk told me he would buy the iPhone instead

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2012, at 7:50 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    And what about the still not fixed software issue?

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2012, at 9:28 AM, radarthreat wrote:

    @jdmeck - It was fixed on April 13. Do try to keep up.

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2012, at 9:36 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    They have what appears to be a solid product, a genuine competitor and a differentiated OS... but that launch was halfway to terrible. Launching on Easter Sunday was a great way to minimize any positive news coverage they could have gotten.

    I don't know, I had high hopes for the device and for the OS, but I'm starting to worry.

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