At $299 and exclusive to AT&T, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is too expensive

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
At $299 and exclusive to AT&T, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is too expensive
During Nokia’s introduction of the super-cool, mega-camera, Lumia 1020 in New York on Thursday, CEO of AT&T Mobility, Ralph de la Vega, made some exciting observations about the long-term relationship the carrier and Nokia have had over the past 15 or so years.

First, Mr. de la Vega was clearly excited about this device, notably more excited than he was when I witnessed his presentation about the HTC First as the first device packing Facebook Home as part of the native experience. Today was no mistake or act, Mr. de la Vega digs this device.

What’s not to like? I know fans of the different platforms will chime in with all sorts of answers, but frankly many of the answers are tired and in some cases, no longer applicable. Since I don’t want to chase that rabbit down the hole let me say this: In all honesty, I, along with anyone that uses or has used Windows Phone 8, can reasonably concede that the platform is not perfect. The app environment has a ton of momentum and so Windows Phone fans are dedicating more time to really examining what they hope will be enhancements to the user experience with Windows Phone 8 in the GDR2, GDR3 and 8.1 updates over the next year.

The complaints are now less about the apps, and more focused on refining the experience to propel the platform to the next level. The biggest issues have to do with notifications (customized), file management, and use of Zune for media syncing. The list is quite long. The good news is that Microsoft appears to be really listening, so for now, let’s acknowledge that there are warts for Windows Phone. For the rest of the gang, take a step back an acknowledge the failings of your favorite platform and we’ll get to brass tax.

It’s too expensive.

When you consider what the Nokia brand is currently commanding through the carriers via subsidies, the new Lumia 1020 does not fit the model to generate appropriate demand. The current line-up of Nokia flagships, the Lumia 920, Lumia 925 and Lumia 928 can all be had for a subsidized price $99 or less ($49 down payment in T-Mobile’s case).

I have no doubt that the carriers and Nokia have been aggressively subsidizing these devices to reestablish a foothold for Windows Phone 8 and Nokia in the United States. Some of the internal components, due to the operating system requirements, also help keep costs down, but like any “new” player, aggressive pricing is almost always used to lay the foundation for future products. Therein lies the rub, Nokia is still laying a foundation, and while I think the Lumia 1020 is timely (and necessary), I also think Nokia is not situated properly to command such pricing with AT&T alone.

Last year, I bemoaned AT&T’s exclusive arrangement with the Lumia 920. I stand by my arguments in that case, but I do not need to use them now. Now, circumstances are different, and Nokia needs to pay better attention to the environment.

One of the first points I will make concern Mr. de la Vega’s comments about AT&T and Windows Phone. During the presentation, he noted that AT&T is the leading carrier for Windows Phone in the United States. If we are talking about all of Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, he may be correct. When it comes to Windows Phone 8 however, the statistics are painting another picture.

Based on last month’s statistics from AdDuplex, Verizon Wireless holds a distinct lead over AT&T in Windows Phone 8 market share, 43% to 39%. In fact, Verizon has more Lumia 822 devices in service than AT&T has Lumia 920s in the field according to the same crop of data. Now that the Lumia 928 is in full swing, it will be interesting to see how that affects the landscape.

The next point I will touch on is the relationship between AT&T and Nokia. AT&T has been selling Nokia gear for a long time. Verizon’s relationship still has a new car smell by comparison. However, during the question and answer phase of the presentation today, a reporter with Forbes, not a small organization by any means, outright called Nokia and AT&T about a perception that the partnership is not making its way to the retail channel.

I can’t quote her directly, but she pretty much said to Stephen Elop, “AT&T has been a horrible partner for you. I love my Lumia but when I walk into a store no one knows anything about it.” She then took that commentary and tried to turn it into a question about how the relationship can be strengthened. To his credit, Mr. Elop took ownership (unnecessarily in my view) and responded that Nokia was going to ensure more cohesive training at the retail level. Frankly, if I had just signed another exclusive deal, I probably would have made sure the other party was doing its part as well.

Am I saying that Nokia and Verizon could get away with a $300 price tag for the Lumia 1020? No. Am I advocating that AT&T should have it on sale for $199? No, I am not so naïve to think this device comes cheap. That camera is packing a ton of expensive technology and there isn’t another device like it on earth (it even sets itself apart from the 808 PureView I think). What about the $249 price point? Surely AT&T and Nokia would be willing to each eat $25 in order to sell a boat load of these things. When you consider the updates that Microsoft has coming over the next year, this flagship will still be distinct a year from now, and even two years from now. The 808 PureView is proof of that (go look on eBay how much new and used ones are still selling for).

However, while “we” muddle through the maturing updates to the Windows Phone platform, a customer is going to be put off by $300 out of pocket when he or she can get a 32GB Samsung Galaxy S4 for $249, a 16GB for $199 or a 32GB iPhone 5 for $299. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny the duopoly that is Android and iOS.

It’s too expensive.

Speaking of duopolies, Nokia is taking overly protective positions when it comes to these exclusive deals. The carriers may insist on them to a point, but it is detrimental to Nokia especially when its chosen partner may not be a top performer compared to the competition.  Verizon is currently outperforming AT&T with Windows Phone. Nokia needs to consider Samsung’s model of building primary devices that end up available across all relevant carriers.  The Galaxy S4 is a perfect example, available everywhere while off-shoots of the device fill the niches.

Nokia engineered three different devices for three separate customers when it could have engineered three (or maybe two) for all its customers in stages. Offering first dibs on a device for three months is certainly a workable incentive, and then let the rest of the carriers join in the fun. Whatever AT&T can’t get done in the first three months of exclusivity does not mean that another three months will make any difference, the mobile hardware cycle is too short to allow anyone to sit on the sidelines.

Maybe Nokia has plans like this already in the works. Next year, Verizon expects to start offering devices that are devoid of any CDMA radios, purely LTE. That will certainly make things easier for the manufacturers since they can just ensure the proper LTE bands are supported and keep the GSM/UMTS radios on board for global roaming. When those days arrive, exclusive arrangements like the one for the Lumia 1020 are going to be more difficult to justify at any price.

It’s too expensive.

reference for Windows Phone market activity: AdDuplex



1. FlushGordon unregistered

Utterly delusional, Wait for a month or so then they'll give it for free on -contract

24. dan86

Posts: 298; Member since: Mar 17, 2012

Not sure about the correct pricing of the device but yes the technology Nokia has developed no other OEM has even dared to think in that segment. A masterpiece of all time. Nokia 1020 has left me absolutely impressed.

42. icyrock1

Posts: 307; Member since: Mar 25, 2013

The Lumia 1020 is extremely impressive. I normally don't care about the camera in a phone (mainly because I never use them), but this one is just amazing. Though, The exclusivity hurts there potential market in the US. At most, there audience is AT&T customers. Now narrow that down to those who are up for upgrades. And then narrow it even more with those willing to shell out $300 for a new Lumia 1020 (that's the price of the Note 2, and $50 - $100 more than the 32GB HTC One and 32GB S4). This device has a small audience, unfortunately. If they could get this everywhere (like HTC with the One) and got the price at $200 - $250 Max, it would sell very well.

51. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

and those upgrade ready at&t customers who will pay 300 bucks and that too for a windows phone. I dont think its gonna work well for this phone

2. ChiX017

Posts: 308; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

That will be good.

57. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

now a days good camera is expensive so i don't mind to pay $300 for this phone, because this phone have "41MP camera r u listening 41MP camera" and some innovating features packed in it and it's a really huge thing. and r we using android in dslr? 2GB RAM and 32GB memory (+7GB skydrive storage) oh com'on. i don't understand about this article.

3. Bootutu

Posts: 228; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

i Knew it, who will buy bulgy low spec for that price, JOKERS!!!, Phones are not specialised for excellent images, that's why we have dedicated cameras, get that into you grizzy head nokia, all the other Nokia phones are lingering in store gathering dust even at give away prices. Someone should just buy nokia and put them out of their misery.

5. FlushGordon unregistered

It will take good captures on certain lighting situations no doubt, but what I don't understand is that, these Noki-knobs are so passionate about this phone they think it can replace a dedicated system. Those night samples were absolute rubbish I don't think it can even do a clean 1600 ISO

16. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

I prefer to see how the new Nokia toy does in objective comparison tests. There shouldn't be too long to wait. In the interim, carrier exclusives are the definition of stoopid. There are probably enough people on all 4 major carriers who would be willing to drop the coin Nokia is wanting for the L1020. However, there is probably only 1/3 of the total population of that universe who are AT&T customers. The missing 2/3s could be the difference between success and failure.

20. sam.7

Posts: 68; Member since: Jul 10, 2013

no need to think then buds! go with ur dark shots n go with ur custom samsung..

35. FlushGordon unregistered

I have a full frame Nikon D7100...I don't take pictures with my phone Phone photography is a waste of time

55. darktiger

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 12, 2013

Nikon D7100 is an APS-C sensor and not a full frame.... guess you do not take that many pictures with your D7100 if you cannot tell the difference a APS-C or FF (D800/D600/etc)

21. alterecho

Posts: 1106; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

There is no denying the Lumia 1020 has the best camera in a mobile device, or thats what i believe, since it is an upgrade to the 808 Pureview, which held/holds the crown for mobile photography. If you have any doubts regarding the photographic capabilities of the Pureview sensor in the 808, maybe this will clear it: These shots were taken with the 808 Pureview. Obviously, dedicated cameras, something like the dedidcated Nikon D600 will be better, but compare the size with the Nokia 1020 and the 808 Pureview. Lumia 1020 is just a fraction of the size of the the Nikon, yet produces such stunning images. What Nokia has achieved is nothing short of breathtaking. Leave the fanboism aside for a moment and appreciate whats been done. Just imagine being able to capture such fine once in a life moments in such detail with a mobile device. Thats what the Nokia 808 Pureview and Lumia 1020 are for.

7. abcdefgh

Posts: 471; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

where did u get that info? as far as i know,they have a bit supply issues to cope with demand

65. jabberwolf

Posts: 7; Member since: May 02, 2013

Sorry but that's an idiotic statement. We don't carry digital cameras along with us at all times and our Cameras take mediocre pictures at best. This changes that !!! As for low specs? What are specs if the phone performs better than others at 4 cores? That's like saying a car with 600 horsepower that goes from 0-60 or 0-100 at the same speed as another car at 400 horsepower. If they perform the same, the car with lesser specs is actually BETTER!

4. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2451; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I was reading an article in which an analyst suggested that Nokia and Microsoft lower the price of the 1020 to $200 on contract and offer a $50 gift card to the Windows app store. He suggested that users would use that $50 over time once more and more apps became available and would help keep customers happy. Not to mention that Microsoft has tons of cash on hand that they could stand to lose some in order to offer such a deal.

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Perhaps MS could use some of the royalty $ they have been extorting from Android OEMs to cover the cost of the $50 gift cards?

19. abcdefgh

Posts: 471; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

hi there. i like the way you come up with detailed explanation (especially the guy who claimed to be nokia employee) kudos mate

6. abcdefgh

Posts: 471; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

this one is for trolls who say "WP SUCKS" shut havnt tried it even once. go to verixzon page and check USER REVIEWS.its far better than s4 and iphone5. fed up of shutting the mouths of these paid shills. PA pls ban them

9. Bootutu

Posts: 228; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

WP sucks monkey balls, those tiles look stupid, they flip like some uncontrolled teenager, they can easily give epilepsy or vertigo, no notification, no quick toggles, everything seems just archaic, old and weird to operate, no sense of organisation at all, no wonder its not selling, and don't even get me started with the bugs lol

14. abcdefgh

Posts: 471; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

did you even read my comment?

15. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

Bootutu is a paid shill that sucks monkey balls, working for the competition, and his/her sole purpose is to write fundamentally negative and dishonest comments about Nokia and/or Microsoft products and services. PhoneArena, please stop letting paid employees working for other companies interfere with the user feedback process!

18. abcdefgh

Posts: 471; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

yeah.well said xperiadroid.cheers :)

33. Paradox

Posts: 124; Member since: Aug 08, 2012

Just because wp is rubbish, not every negative comment on it is by someone who is paid...

45. HouTexan

Posts: 461; Member since: Jan 08, 2012

So, I guess ask the Nokia idiots bashing on android articles are paid shills, right? Terrible logic.

53. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

wp is rubbish huh ? lets see its the only os that dosent resemble ios and android, its dosent need exnos octa core to run smoothly, less a chance of messing with a setting to the complicity of android and your not f****** yourself to the boringness of ios and its devices oh ya and no carrier branding whatsoever. still rubbish ?

56. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

dude i tell u what, when lumia 1020 launch, i'm seeing everywhere trolling people and haters keep saying vs to lumia 1020 but u know what they jealous of lumia 1020, because their phone can't complete with it in features and some innovation. we know that nokia lumia 1020 is a tremendous, unique, and masterpiece phone.

8. Piotrek007

Posts: 119; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

Lets be honest... its all about price these days... I think nokia will figure out quite quickly that the price of device is far too big and they will cut it or make something like gift cards mentioned before.

10. Bluesky02

Posts: 1439; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Well if you compared it to SG4, it does look expensive

12. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013

Considering the camera technology and that it will probably put even some advanced compact cameras ( those cost up to 2000$), the price is a bargain. BUT.. this means something only to the people who are serious or enthusiastic about photography, or in a need for a great camera..for them, this phone can actually save money. For average people who need a smartphone first, and are happy with their simple cameras, there are better choices. Any of the current crop of high end android is a better smartphone than this. Take the S4: -better, sharper, bigger screen - more battery life, with ability to remove the battery - slimmer, lighter body - far more powerful processor, especially GPU(the adreno 225 in Lumia 1020 will barely be any gaming worth even in a year from now, given how fast 3D mobile games are advancing) - expandable and removable storage - far more flexible, customizable and capable OS For anyone in the need for a smartphone first and camera second, Nokia is not the way to go. For anyone in the need for a camera first, it is by far the best choice

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