Phones4U and Carphone Warehouse still pushing Nokia Lumia Windows Phones
July 29, 2012 at 22:34 GMT | By Darlington Moyo
Recently, there's been stories that carriers and retailers have lost interested in Windows Phone devices since Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone 8 update will not be coming to current devices. Also, there's been suggestions that Nokia Lumia sales were tailing-off due a combination of the launch of the HTC One range, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the inability to upgrade to Windows Phone 8
We decided to visit The Trafford Centre, located in Manchester, England, to get a feel on how the Nokia Lumia range and other Windows Phone devices were doing in a real life retail environment. The Trafford Centre is on average the biggest and busiest shopping mall in the United Kingdom. All the big players in the mobile phone space are represented here; Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Three and Orange, with some having 2 units within the centre. Independent mobile phone retailers such as Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U also line up alongside the carrier stores.
We visited all carrier stores and before too long, one theme soon emerged. The was no special placement for Windows Phones. No one carrier seemed to carry more that 3 Windows Phone devices. All carries had the Nokia Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710, only 2 had the Nokia Lumia 610 and none had the indomitable Nokia Lumia 900. The only non-Nokia Windows Phone device we found was the HTC Radar at the Vodafone shop. Not much of a choice if you ask me. We know that other devices like the Samsung Omnia W and the ZTE Tania are available, but finding them left us feeling like we were on a DaVinci Code quest. No wonder Windows Phone is struggling in the UK!
Of all the phones we saw in carrier shops, none had a dedicated stand like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S3. The devices seemed to the scattered amongst Androids, mainly out of the line of sight.
The story could not be different in independent shops. Phones4U and The Carphone Warehouse seem to be bothered about affording Windows Phone and the Nokia Lumia range some decent real estate and exposure. For the benefit of those who don't live in the UK or Europe: The Carphone Warehouse is a Bestbuy subsidiary, is Europe's largest independent mobile phone retailer and has over 1,700 stores across Europe, while Phones4U is the second largest independent mobile phone retailer in the United Kingdom with more than 500 stores across the isles.
At Carphone Warehouse (pictured above), we were welcomed by a dedicated area for the Nokia Lumia range, right next to Samsung's, Apple's and Sony's own dedicated display areas. The was the full complement of the Nokia Lumia devices, all connected and ready to thrill would-be Windows Phone users. We spoke to a sales rep who was ready to speak to us off-the-record. He confirmed that there was still strong interest in Lumia devices although the interest was not at the level of the iPhone or the SGS3. Unfortunately, the rep was more intersted in showing us his brand-spanking SGS3, which naturally we were unimpressed by and uninterested in. He did confirm though that customers that purchased a Windows Phone devices were highly satisfied and unlike Android users, didn't returned to the store to complain about the phone's performance or usability.
We moved across to a Phones4U shop, literally. We were greeted by the pschodelic Nokia Lumia squares on the floor, forming a path that lead to Nokia Lumia centre piece (pictured above). Not only was there a Lumia centre piece, the was a dedicated space on the wall right next to the damn-it iPhone.
The sales rep at Phone4U wasn't too pleased that we had helped ourselves without asking for permission first and was initially unwilling to speak to us. He eventually told us that Phones4U currently have a special relationship with Nokia will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He alluded to the recent White Nokia Lumia and the Dark Knight exclusives as proof of the deep working relationship between Nokia and Phones4U. Needless to mention, the full complement of the Lumia range was also available with working display units on show. Not only that, a purchase of the Nokia Lumia 800 attracted a free XBOX console (now that a pull!). The reps appeared comfortable when talking about Windows Phone, often expanding knowledge that your run-of-the-mill sales representative would not have a clue about.
Windows Phone appears to suffer from active distribution and advertising. Before Nokia came onboard, UK carriers seemed not to know what they were doing with the Microsoft powered devices. We feel a bit more of the Phone4U treatment could go a long way. Maybe a Nokia or a Microsoft flagship store would help. But whatever it is, we hope Microsoft, Nokia and other Windows Phone partners will step up their game when Windows Phone 8 says hello.
Let us know about you experience in your local retail area.
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