Microsoft and Nokia Go All Out in Hawking Lumia

By Shira Ovide

If partners Nokia Corp. and Microsoft Corp. don’t score a hit with their new smartphone, it won’t be for lack of trying.

ReutersNokia staff dance after the presentation of the new Lumia 900 during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 27.

The two companies, along with AT&T, are rolling out a series of marketing stunts to back the Lumia 900 handset, set to go on sale next week.

Today, Microsoft launched a new website teasing what looks like the company’s marketing strategy: Pitching the time-saving functions of the Lumia phone, which is powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone software.

On a bright blue background – similar in color to one version of the Lumia 900 – the website asks, “What would you do with a little more time in your day.”

Spotted in New York’s Central Park on Tuesday were people handing out chocolate bars pointing people to Microsoft’s “Free Time Machine” website. The hawkers in bright-blue jackets were back this morning in Times Square with chocolate treats, according to photos on Facebook and other places. Microsoft has declined to say how much it is spending on marketing for Windows Phone.

Meanwhile, bloggers fingered Nokia as the source for a website that includes mock hidden videos of a mobile rival–presumably Apple–acting haughty about consumers, and dismissing some of the well-trod criticisms of the iPhone. (You’re holding it wrong!) A Nokia spokeswoman confirmed the company is behind the website.

And AT&T already has said its promotional push behind the Lumia 900 will rival the telecom company’s marketing flurry for the original iPhone.

Nokia and Microsoft badly need a hit with the Lumia 900, the companies’ flagship phone in the U.S.

The Finnish company has linked its fate in the smartphone market pretty much entirely to Microsoft’s software. and while Microsoft’s 18-month-old Windows Phone operating system has won over many tech reviewers, Microsoft’s smartphone market share is just 3.9%, according to comScore data released this week. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating system combined power about eight out of every 10 smartphones in this country, comScore reported.

The three partners’ marketing pitches will have to overcome some bumpy early reviews for the Lumia 900. The Journal’s Walt Mossberg said the Lumia 900 looks great and has zippy data speeds, but “still doesn’t measure up to rival smartphones” because of a flawed Web browser, underwhelming battery life and poor photo quality compared to rival mobile devices.

CNET gave the Lumia 900 four stars out of five and said it’s “perfect for the mainstream market” at a price of $99.99. The Verge said the Lumia 900 highlighted the problems with the Windows Phone software, and “it’s almost impossible to move beyond some of Windows Phone’s shortcomings this late in the game.”

Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Phone, said the Lumia 900 reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and he said Microsoft is investigating one case where a reviewer ran into an issue with Lumia’s mobile Web browser.

FreeTimeMachine.comA Microsoft website teases the upcoming launch of the Lumia 900, an important new smartphone backed by Microsoft, Nokia and AT&T.

Microsoft and Nokia Go All Out in Hawking Lumia

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