So March 13th has arrived and the last Australian Telco to go live with the Nokia Lumia launch, Telstra, has finally flicked the switch! WPDownUnder hit the streets of Frankston this morning to undertake a quick retail check-up on how things were going for Windows Phone with the Lumia launch. What feedback did we have from sellers? How was it being represented? What was the all important “vibe” out there…
So here’s what we found…along with some updated editorial musings on the Lumia launch – and an exclusive tip-off that I know many of you are going to want to see. So let’s get to it, here’s our March Retail check-in on Windows Phone and the Nokia Lumia Australian launch. Come along for the ride!
We set out this morning with high hopes of seeing the Nokia Lumia front and central in most telco’s and retailers. Were we disappointed with our findings? Not really. In the scale of Windows Phone launches in this country to date, the Lumia wins hands-down. Can more be done however? Absolutely….
Only a few hundred metres from WPDownUnder’s home office, we had to stop – as we sighted our first evidence of Nokia advertising by Optus….at our local bus stop! Given that the local gangs of night-roaming youths had yet to discover the pristine new ad with their cans of spray paint, we took a picture for posterity! Let’s just say that the next one we sighted (at a stop much closer to our destination of Frankston) had not fared so well!
Our first retail stop was a quickie – as we zipped faster than K-Rudd exiting a media conference into our closest Telstra store, the Karingal franchisee T-store. A quick check with the staff there re: the new Lumia 800 returned a result of ”…we have them out-back, they should be on display ‘later’…” With no time to spare, I grabbed a coffee and jumped back in the car to head to that estimable and upper-class establishment, Bayside Shopping Plaza, Frankston.
With AFL footy season not yet fully upon us, we knew we could wander the Frankston streets in relative safety, not likely to be accosted by Sam Newman and the Footy Show camera crew and assorted hanger-on’s, so we parked in a well-lit (yes I know it was morning on a week-day…you can never to too cautious) parking spot and hit the pavement. TeleChoice, the scene of our earlier, first in-the-wild sighting of a demo Lumia 800 was first-up. Plenty of Lumia coverage there…
There was even that rarer coloured model of the Lumia 800 on display….Cyan! The manager was not in sight, and we were unable to chat with the staff member…as he was signing up a customer to a Lumia 800 and an iFruit device on a business plan! Score 1-1
Next stop, the Telstra Frankston store.
Well done to the team there. Despite it being not yet lunch-time on the first day of Telstra’s launch for the Lumia 800, it was out, ticketed (correctly) and proudly on display alongside two other Windows Phone devices, the Samsung OmniaW and older Gen1 HTC HD7. WPDownUnder suspects that if the HD7′s were let loose in the wild, professional hunters would have to be called in for a cull. As it is, we can expect Telstra to keep playing the long-game on clearing their old stock on these poor-selling units – so don’t expect a “Ken Bruce has gone mad” clearance type sale on Catch of the Day for this unit just yet!
Only the black Lumia 800 was on display, leading WPDownUnder to assume that there has been a delay from Nokia on shipments of the White model (the only colours Telstra have confirmed they will carry). In a clever move, and most likely the reason for their launch being the last by up to 2 weeks of all the carriers, Telstra’s Nokia Lumia 800′s ship with the very latest 12070 firmware release. The two main benefits of this update are a significant improvement (and reported complete eradication) of the much-commented upon battery issues experienced on the earlier firmware as well as the correction of a rare issue where certain handsets on certain carriers in certain network conditions suffered random OS reboots. It’s very clever of Telstra to mandate this to Nokia for their release – and places them at a further (network coverage and speeds aside) competitive edge at launch to their 850band network colleagues – being Vodafone.
There is currently no further word from Nokia – other than “soon” on when this firmware update will be available to either unbranded handset owners or other carrier branded devices. Disappointingly, the 12070 update does NOT deliver Internet Sharing to the Lumia 800…see our last update from Nokia on this subject. In another plus for Telstra, the Lumia 800 on their NextG network is “Blue-Tick” certified – meaning optimum reception and coverage on their network in remote and regional areas.
In other WP7 Nokia Lumia news on our Frankston trip today;
- JB Hi-Fi stores may have the Lumia 710 from today for sale – Frankston Superstore had it in-stock, but not yet on display!
- Vodafone had the unit on display – with little interest reported by staff (actually no sales as quoted by one staff member in the 1-2 weeks they have had it). They had reported receiving Nokia Training on the unit.
- Crazy John’s had the Lumia 710 advertised as “coming soon”.
- Virgin Mobile had both the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 on display – with the March/latest catalogue (running late) due to feature them.
- Allphones had the most prominent display of the Nokia Lumia – featuring a Point-of-sale display stand for their brochures, Front-page and prominent featuring of the devices in their March Buyer’s Guide and plenty of in-store plan display and posters.
- Optus stores had the Lumia 800 – and also featured the device in their current catalogue, along with a full-page Nokia advert.
- Shopping Centre Advertising boards also displayed Nokia adverts.
- Nokia Masters (internal training+sales programme for retail salespeople) was reported by a number of stores as having been held, with representatives having been sent from each store.
- Conversations WPDownUnder held with various store representatives alluded to channel incentives or staff sales competitions to try to promote WP7 and the Nokia Lumia’s specifically from launch.
(Virgin Mobile, Optus Catalogue Advert and Crazy John’s Coming Soon catalogue page).
(Allphones display, Shopping Centre Advert and Crazy All phones Point-of-Sale).
So all this bodes well for Windows Phone. That’s not to say there are not some nagging concerns with the Lumia launch to date. There certainly are. Whilst the retail availability of the devices is now on a par with any of their competitors and training and incentives are being put in place to motivate retail channel staff, the final phase required is the advertising/promotion to help capture the consumer’s mind. The coming public events later this month, and the commencement of mainstream TV advertising by Nokia will help start this, however campaigns like the #smokedbywindowsphone initiative or something similar need to accompany this to help plant the seed of something different to iOS and Android.
Finally, the most worrying sign and something WPDownUnder raised prior to launch, is a continued lack of understanding by sales staff of the different Lumia model variants for different 3G WCDMA network bands. Our Buyer’s guide and earlier warning posts were aimed to try to highlight this. Despite calls and emails made to Harvey Norman head office, they have refused to engage on this subject. Dick Smith responded to WPDownUnder feedback, and amended their online advertising information slightly to assist.
Essentially, both the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 each come in two models. One model of each works with Telstra NextG and the new Vodafone 3G network (on the 850band) and the other models of each work on the Optus and Virgin Mobile 3G networks (900band). They are NOT network interchangeable for 3G performance – despite numerous claims or ignorance by sales staff WPDownUnder has spoken with on this point. In the past week, DSE staff have confirmed to us in error that the unlocked devices they will be selling (850band) will work on all 3G services. Wrong. Whirlpool feedback has confirmed at least one sale already by a Harvey Norman staff member of an unlocked 900band unit for requested use on Telstra NextG – resulting in a customer return and delay in re-ordering the correct model.
This situation is really not good enough – and needs to be corrected before it gets any worse (let alone potentially having customers out there not even aware why their mobile data speeds are not working like they used to and then blaming the phone). See more on this here, and our buying guide.
So. Some things to improve, some more work to be done – and some congratulations on some great work done so far in getting Windows Phone, via the Nokia Lumia into all good stores (and some crappy ones to!) near you right now!
Watch for our Lumia 800 review coming soon. Before signing off, I promised another exclusive for you. Based on information hot off the press (and further to my earlier exclusive), I can confirm that Telstra will begin promoting the 4G HTC Titan II Windows Phone later this month, for an early April release! Woot. Look for the advertisements starting from the 27th March! We also expect that this may put some forward pressure on the Lumia 900′s arrival in Australia – who knows, we may not have to wait till mid-year after all!
It’s all happening on Windows Phone Down Under