Nokia Rolling Out Low-cost Smartphone Via T-Mobile

There’s a lot riding on a comparatively cheap and streamlined smartphone Nokia is rolling out in the U.S. on Jan. 11. The Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone will launch at T-Mobile stores and online for $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year contract. As for color, it has more choices than the Model T: not only black but also white.

It’s the first phone from Nokia running on the Windows OS in the U.S. and “is targeted at the 150 million Americans who have yet to make the transition to smartphones,” the Los Angeles Times’ Andrea Chang reports.

And it gives T-Mobile, which has been losing customers even as its proposed acquisition by AT&T has hit the shoals of regulatory and judicial scrutiny, a story to tell other than “we’re stuck in the middle.”

“Windows Phone offers a compelling mobile OS choice for people who want a smartphone built around them, their family and friends," says T-Mobile USA CMO Cole Brodman. "We expect it to play a more prominent role in our lineup and marketing efforts in 2012."



The low price "keeps [it] out of having to compete with the hot in-demand phones such as the iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II and lets them do more of a soft U.S. launch of the Nokia Windows phones," the Yankee Group's Carl Howe tellsTechNewsWorld’s Richard Adhikari.

"It's the right space to launch our first Windows phone in the U.S.," Nokia U.S. President Chris Weber tells Ina Fried, the Wall Street Journal’s “All Things Digital’ blogger. "It is the greenfield for us."

Nokia is planning to spend “a significant amount” on advertising for the launch, Fried reports, including TV, and is purposely avoiding the holiday season to avoid all the competing messages out there.

“The Nokia Lumia 710 is not as gorgeous as the Nokia Lumia 800, but it is still a very good device and is priced at the right level to appeal to a lot of new smartphone customers,” according toZDNet’s Matthew Miller.

Allen Nogee, a research director at NPD In-Stat, tells Adhikari that it’s a “very risky” strategy “because low-cost devices can attract buyers, but ‘don't always send the message that the company has a high-value product.’”

While we’re talking about mobile devices, you’ve probably heard about theNational Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that cell phone use – even on hands-free devices -- be banned while driving. As you might expect, opinion is hotly divided.

Writing on CBS MoneyWatch, Margaret Heffernan says automakers’ attempt to turn vehicles into rolling entertainment centers is not a welcome development and a cell phone ban couldn’t come sooner -- “not just because I'd like safer roads for myself and my children, but because we all need thinking time -- moments when we stop doing and start reflecting. Perpetual motion may look energetic, but it is often stupid, exhibitionist and wasteful.” 

But Detroit Free-Press columnist Mark Phelan writes thatbanning all uses of mobile phones in cars would be the most pointless and universally ignored law since Prohibition.” Hand-free devices are the answer, he says, and they’re available in nearly all new cars for little or no additional cost.

“A total ban on phone use in cars would breed contempt for the law and saddle overworked police officers with an unnecessary responsibility that would keep them from more important work. It also would be unenforceable,” Phelan says.

In any event, you can breathe a little bit easier about getting harangued by candidates as you zoom down the interstate. Lawmakers hung up yesterday on the innocuously named  “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011,” which would have allowed robo-calls to mobile devices -- even if you didn’t give a company permission to contact you at that number. 

Supporters included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Air Transport Association and assorted trade groups representing bankers, mortgage lenders, college loan programs and debt collectors. They said they only wanted to alert consumers to “non-marketing commercial information” such as food and drug recalls, data breaches, flight delays and appointment cancellations. But a poll conducted by found that 99.5% of the more than 60,000 people who responded to its online poll thought it would be a violation of their privacy

Not to mention their “thinking time.”

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